If you’re new to WordPress, the concepts of plugins, themes, widgets, etc might be a little overwhelming. There are definitely a lot of options and components that go into creating a WordPress site, and one of the best features of a WordPress site is the sheer number and versatility of the plugins available for use. Seriously, there’s a plugin for almost anything you can thing of — from really useful things like ecommerce integration, to less useful things like adding falling snowflakes to the pages of your WordPress site. If there’s a feature of functionality you want to add to your WP site, chances are there’s a plugin for that.
If you’re wondering how to install one of these plugins, there are a few different ways you can go about it. Keep on reading to learn more.
Search for a Plugin
The left-hand menu of your WordPress dashboard has a menu item called “Plugins.” If you hover over that link, you’ll see a few options. Click “Add New,” which will bring you to WordPress’s Plugin repository. You can browse through the Featured, Popular, and New plugin sections, or you can search specifically for a plugin or type of plugin by using the search bar in the top right corner of the page.
Once you’ve found the plugin you’re searching for, click the Install Now button in the top right hand corner of the plugin’s listing. The plugin will then be installed, and you’ll have the option of whether or not you’d like to activate it (most likely, you will want to), and then you’re free to start using it/configuring the settings.
(Note: depending on your hosting plan and how your permissions are configured, you may not be able to install plugins this way. If that’s the case, see the methods below).
Upload a Plugin
On the Add Plugins page, there’s also the option to upload a plugin (at the top of the page next to the Add Plugins title).
To upload a plugin, first you’ll have to have it downloaded onto your local machine. To download a plugin, you can use the official WordPress plugin repository page (or get a free or premium plugin downloaded or purchased from a third party site) and use it by searching the same way you searched through the repository on the Add Plugins page. The only difference between this page and the page on your dashboard is that the plugins in this repository download directly to your machine.
Once you’ve got your plugin on your computer, you can upload it using the “Upload Plugin” option. Make sure the plugin you want to upload is in a zip format, choose the file, and click “Install Now.” The plugin installation should then happen seamlessly, and you’ll again get the opportunity to activate the plugin.
Upload a Plugin via FTP
This is the option for manual plugin installation via an FTP client (if you don’t already have one, Filezilla is great). To install a plugin this way, you’ll need to make sure you have your desired plugin downloaded onto your local machine, just like in the process above — this is where the WordPress Plugin Repository will be useful to you again.
After you’ve got your plugin downloaded onto your computer, access your server by connecting via your FTP client, and navigate to the Plugins folder (wp-content/plugins). Use the transfer windows or just drag and drop the entire unzipped plugin folder into your plugin directory and wait as the files transfer. Once the transfer is complete, check the main plugin page on your WordPress dashboard to ensure that the plugin was uploaded, and activate it if you like.