3 Different Ways To Install WordPress Plugin (Beginner’s Guide With Pictures)

Install WordPress Plugin
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This post is part of the “Start A Blog” series.

WordPress is a full-fledged content management system (CMS), and there are a couple of technical things to know about when you start using WordPress.

Installing WordPress plugins is one thing that every self-hosted WordPress blogger should know how to do.

Technically, WordPress offers three ways to install WordPress plugins on your blog:

  1. Search and install
  2. Upload and install
  3. FTP
In the FTP method, you upload the plugin using an FTP software such as FileZilla or CyberDuck. You then activate and configure it. In the other two methods, you search, find, install, and activate the plugin with a few simple clicks.

Search & Add Plugin in WordPress From Dashboard

Installing a plugin from the WordPress dashboard is the easiest way.

If you know the name of the plugin, you can directly search from the dashboard and install it.

Simply log into your blog’s dashboard and click on Plugins > Add New. Then type your search term into the search box on the top right.

In this case, I searched for WP-Optimize and I got the following results:

Install WordPress plugin
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You can click on “More Details” to see more information about any plugin. Make sure you check that the plugin is compatible with your current version of WordPress.

Also, be sure to read the documentation before installing any new plugin.

To install, simply click on “Install Now” and then “activate” the plugin

Activate WordPress Plugin
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The next step is to go into the settings panel of the plugin and make all of the necessary changes. Much of the time, we make the mistake of installing plugins without properly configuring them. After installing any plugin, always be sure to configure the settings.

Installing Custom WordPress Plugin Downloaded From 3rd Party Sites

Install Custom WordPress Plugin
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If you have downloaded a WordPress plugin from somewhere, you can upload the .zip file and install it directly from the WordPress dashboard.

Click on “Upload Plugin” and browse your drive to find the .zip file.

At this time, WordPress only accepts the .zip format for uploading WordPress plugins and themes.

FTP Method To Install WordPress Plugin

This is another method that is very useful when you can’t install a WP plugin using the WordPress dashboard.

You simply download the plugin from the WordPress plugin library, unzip it, and upload it to your WordPress plugin library using your FTP software. You can use FileZilla which is free and available for all major computer OS.

Normally, the plugin upload folder is located under wp-content/plugins.

Once you are done uploading the file, you can simply go to the WordPress plugins folder in the WP dashboard and activate the plugin. This is a very useful method for those who don’t have access to installing plugins or themes from the dashboard due to server restriction.

Conclusion: 3 Ways To Install A WordPress Plugin

Personally, I prefer using the dashboard’s search and upload feature. Only in specific cases do I need to use the FTP method.

Managing WordPress plugins is also easy. All you need to do is go to the plugins folder in the WP dashboard and activate or deactivate plugins with a single click.

Sometimes you may find that you’re facing issues with your WordPress site after installing a certain plugin. Simply log into your dashboard via FTP and deactivate that plugin. Certain plugins are not compatible with certain versions of WordPress and will cause problems.

If you are completely new to WP or are planning to start with WordPress, you should check out our complete WordPress guide.

Also check out:

Speaking of plugins, here is a list of WordPress plugins that I use at ShoutMeLoud.

If you have any issues regarding installing, activating, and deactivating plugins, let me know via the comments.

You’re now ready for Part 6 of the “Start A Blog” series:

And if you like this guide, don’t forget to share it with your friends!

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Authored By
A Blogger, Author and a speaker! Harsh Agrawal is recognized as a leader in digital marketing and FinTech space. Fountainhead of ShoutMeLoud, and a Speaker at ASW, Hero Mindmine, Inorbit, IBM, India blockchain summit. Also, an award-winning blogger.

30 thoughts on “3 Different Ways To Install WordPress Plugin (Beginner’s Guide With Pictures)”

  1. ankita

    Congratulation Harsh Sir, I was 100% sure that you will win

  2. Darshan Saroya

    A perfect article for a newbie. Cover all the ways to install a WordPress plugin. Personally, I prefer upload plugin via file manager.

  3. virender singh

    Excellent advice here bro.

    I am a big fan of serving up tweets my audience digs. Quite easy really; see what folks respond to, RT and engage, and then you know how to tweet in the future.

    Be observant. Spot patterns. Honor those patterns.

  4. Amar Agarwal

    Hey Harsh,
    I read your posts,and they seem to be really helpful and well organized.
    I have a query regarding my wordpress blog which i want to be hosted on bluehost. But now comes the real problem ,that i already have a well working blog on wordpress, but i dont know how to migrate my entire blog from wordpress to the Bluehost and use it like i have read people can do after installing wordpress on their bluehosts. I am in dilemma that will i be able to use my blog and write down my posts as i used to do on wordpress or some programming knowledge will also be needed which i currently dont have.
    I will be really helped if you can give some of your time in sorting out these doubts.
    I will be waiting for your valuble reply.


  5. Aavishkar Mane

    Any best post on how to develop a plugins.. Wanted customized plugin.
    Anyways the post was good, worth reading..

    One doubt loading WordPress with many plugins will it hamper performance of site..???

  6. Hossam Hossny

    Is there a way to install WordPress plugins direcly from zip archives. Say you have 100 plugins in zip formats and FTP’ed them to the plugins directory; is there a way to bulk install them all in one shot? I don’t see a problem here since you can install the plugins in zip format from admin panel, so there must be a way! Thanks and nice blog BTW.

    1. Mathur Khanna

      Yes brother. It is possible. All you need is to get drunk and sleep. Dreams will show you how to do it. Jokes apart! Why would you want 100 plugins anyways? Do you want your wordpress website to be included in some recordbook for slowest ever? Like, if you try opening it in browser, it shows up in the next century?

  7. shyam kushwaha

    great post harsh i have read it fully and applied the things as you mentioned in this post to my site its working ,………….great.
    thanks a lot ..

  8. Draven Hopsin

    Hi Harsh,

    I just started my website at wordpress and payed for the premium plan.
    But i dont have the option for plugins in my dashboard how do i get it?
    Or do i have to host my site from a other site like godaddy or hostgator ?

    Thanks in advance

    1. Harsh Dwivedi

      Hello Draven,

      I think you are using WordPress.com. If You are Using WordPress.com, you can not install Plugins. There is no Plugin option in WordPress.com Dashboard. There are Some Essential Plugins pre-Installed in WordPress.com for Common Tasks like contact form and social media buttons etc. If you want to Install Plugins then you would need to switch to WordPress.org

  9. Prachi

    Is there any other way to activate the plugins. I get an error while activating plugins sometimes it says max execution time exceeded or some random err on so ans so line.

  10. harsha

    Recently i started new wordpress blog, and using free apostrophe theme so unable to see plugin in my dashboard even though i login as wp-admin for this blog. Any suggestions on this or is it that since it is free we wont have access to wordpress plugins.

    1. Krishna Jha

      Your website is probably on wordpress.com and the problem with it is that you cannot install plugins in wordpress.com sites.

  11. SHIJIL

    Harsh, This post is really useful….

    I need to know how to disable a plugin for wordpress mobile theme only??

    1. Harsh Agrawal

      That’s an interesting question. I would see if I can find an answer to this. 🙂

  12. jagraj


    I’m planning to start a self hosted WordPress blog relating to financial education. I want to ask whether is it required to have any knowledge of programming or using FTP for that? as I do not know much about these things.

    1. Krishna Jha

      Hello JAGRAJ,
      If your blog is on WordPress programming knowledge is not necessary but if in future you want to do some tweaks and trims to your blog have a programming knowledge is essential and about FTP it is very simple to use and learn there are tons of videos on how to use FTP.

  13. Saad

    I was struggling with installing WP plugins a few days ago as due to some reason I was unable to connect WordPress with my FTP credentials and I had to manually install plugins using the FTP method. Thank you so much for the insight

  14. Sourav Ghosh

    Hi Harsh. I faced some issues while trying to install some plugins. For example, when I tried to install easydigitaldownloads from WordPress dashboard, it gave some error like “Upload max size reached in php.in” . Can I upload these plugins through FTP? Actually I didn’t take the risk.

    I tried to search for the php.ini file using FTP, but couldn’t find. I edited one earlier while testing offline using Wamp. Any solution?

    Thanks for sharing so much valuable info. Learning a lot and learning fast.

  15. Sachin

    Thanks Harsh…I have been waiting for some time to know more about WP plugins but you tell some plugins about who safe web site to hacker and spam ….

  16. Manish

    Hi Harsh, could you please tell me that what is the best plugin to insert google adsense in my wordpress blog.


  17. jayaar

    Hello Harsh,
    thanks a lot for this particular article. I have been waiting for some time to know more about WP plugins and their implementation.
    Your presentation has made me better informed about the same.

  18. KBharath

    I prefer FTP method is easy to install some paid and premium plugins or themes because if they give any error while direct installing it will create a problem. so first i transfer the plugin/theme via ftp and then i will check in the plugin/themes section for that app if the app is there then i will activate and use it.

    1. Harsh Agrawal

      @Kbharath That usually happens because of packing the file. Most of the premium themes keep the actual Zip file below one level as they add psd and other important files..!!
      In such cases, using FTP method is always good….Thanks for your comment.

  19. Tony

    It’s great for a newbie, but nothing beats using a good ftp program. There are some really good (free) ones out there, Filezilla for example, that once you learn how to master is a total life saver.

    1. Harsh Agrawal

      You are right Tiny , file Zilla if certainly the best. Though for installing plugin I prefer using WordPress dashabord. It is much easier this way.

    2. Vikas SN

      @Tony Ofcourse Filezilla is the best, but Somehow installing it from the WordPress Dashboard is much more easier.

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