Installing a plugin is super easy from WordPress Dashboard on self hosted website, and it’s also not hard even if you do it via FTP. But that doesn’t mean that I should not write a tutorial – How to Install WordPress Plugins. That also doesn’t mean that you should install any other plugin just because you like it. Plugins are necessities of WordPress life – PLUGINS ARE NOT FUN.
Importance of WordPress Plugins
WordPress is really a great platform for web publishing and plugins are something that makes it even better. You create an awesome blog with WordPress and WordPress makes full featured website with plugins. The Codex simply explains, “Plugins are tools to extend the functionality of WordPress”. However, installing too many plugins is not recommended as it could lead to poor website performance.
Plugins are necessities of WordPress life. Plugins are not fun.
Personally I appreciate 10 plugins installed and activated at most. But I know that 10 are not enough because they are already those plugins which every blog or WordPress site should have for basic website requirements, for example – cache plugin, contact form plugin, SEO plugin. There would be more plugins that you want to install for your specific needs and of course you and your website have something different (features) for your users. So practically, limiting to 10 is not possible (I am using 15) and you can go for up to 25. You can even install more, but always keep your WordPress clean and compact.
Changing File Permissions
This part is optional and does not require you to look into if everything is working fine on your hosting server. WordPress users usually complain when they are asked to input FTP details. However, my complete guide should inform you that some WordPress plugins require the creation of a temporary directory to store cache data in it. In this case you need to change directory and file permissions so the WordPress plugin is able to create and write to a directory without failing. Plugins get installed if write permissions to the /wp-content/plugins directory is set to 755.
You can skip this part for now, or read on to learn more. You should have an FTP Client on your PC to connect to your web server or download FileZilla or Cyberduck. Install and open any one of them. Enter host name/web address, followed by your username and password (provided to you by your hosting service) in given fields. Click on connect button. Once connection is established, you will be able to view your website directories on the remote server.
Usually public_html directory hosts all WordPress files. The directory public_html at the root of your account is actually a link to /domains/yourdomain.com/public_html.
Navigate down to the …/wp-content/plugins/ directory and right click on it to select and open “file attributes tab”. This enables you to change file permissions. Set the file permission to 755 and click OK. Now you are ready to install plugins.
Install WordPress Plugins Using Admin Panel
Log in to your website. Go to Menu > Plugins > Add New
After hitting the Add New, you will be taken to Plugin Installer Page. Here, search option lets you search the Official WordPress Plugins Repository online that hosts thousands of plugins, developed and contributed by users around the world.
Choose a plugin from Installer Search Results
Search Result display number of plugins along with their Version numbers, Ratings and Descriptions. You should always go to Details page for more information before hitting Install Now option. I am more comfortable to search Plugins Repository via wordpress.org website. I visit the Plugin Directory page and insert my keywords there in search field.
About WordPress.org Search Results
By default, WordPress.org displays search results having plugins sorted by Relevance or you can select Newest, Most Popular or Highest Rated (sorting methods) and click Search Plugins again to sort items in different manners. Relevance displays those results which are very close to keywords. Newest are obviously recently added/updated. Most Popular are most liked plugins in the history of WordPress and Highest Rated are top rated on the scale of 5 stars. Popularity actually reflects continuous success of a plugin from its inception. About Highest Rated, people tend to rate a plugin when they are able to manage its actions by given settings. However, Relevance works best most of the time because Most Popular and Highest Rated usually show best plugins of all time.
About Google Search Results
Why I am talking about Google and not Yahoo or Bing! The answer comes from WordPress.org itself. Each WordPress.org search result page holds a note at its bottom (just above the footer) – “You may also try your search at Google”.
Click on “search at Google” and here it presents Google SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages). All the links on SERPs are from one source, wordpress.org/extend/plugins/. They are truly more relevant links which only present top rated pages, also happened to be most viewed pages – This is and that’s why Google.
Go Back to WordPress Dashboard
I know that I can search from my website dashboard but as I told you, I find it more comfortable to read about plugins on wordpress.org pages. I go through descriptions, ratings, version updates, stats section, compatibility with current version of WordPress and even demo/home sites, and then I choose my preferred plugin. I select and copy its TITLE and also retain its version number.
After this kind of research, I get back to Plugin Installer page (dashboard) and place TITLE text there for search. Of course, my preferred plugin gets top place on search results. The version number (should match) confirms my selection and I click “Install Now” button without any doubt or delay.
Let’s Complete the Installation
Plugin should install successfully. Now, click on Activate Plugin in order to start using its functionalities on Installed Plugins page. Each plugin has two options – Deactivate and Edit. Click Edit to update source files (not recommended). Click Deactivate to stop using a plugin. This action does not remove your plugin but keeps its settings and you can Activate your plugin any time in the future. Isn’t it beautiful?
About Plugin Settings
Usually plugins get installed with some Settings. It helps to customize How plugin should work by making changes on Settigns page. Most plugins work fine with default settings but you must learn them carefully. Some plugins work only after you complete all the details on settings page – You can install Google Analytics Plugin but this does not enable google analytics on your site until you add web property ID (UA-0000000-0) from Google Analytics to the settings. Keep that in mind and always visit plugin site for more help.
You can find plugin Settings button on different places. It may be available on Installed Plugins page below plugin name or under description text. Or you may find it on Dashboard under Plugins or Settings menu by plugin name. Some plugins install their own seperate menu options on WordPress Dashboard.
Install your Favorite Plugins
What are Favorite Plugins? The ability to favorite a plugin was added to the WordPress.org plugin repository in 2012. A user must be registered in order to mark plugins as favorites on WordPress.org pages. You can also view your favorite plugins listed in one place on your Profile page – Go to My Favorites. You can register and log in to the site (see below the main navigation) from Plugins page.
You can register yourself to WordPress.org with a username and get password. Once logged in, you can mark a plugin as Favorite by clicking the Favorite button below the Download button.
Access Plugin Installer page (Plugins > Add New) from your Dashboard and go to Favorites option instead of Search. Version 3.5 introduced the ability to display and easily install a user’s favorite plugins through Add New plugin option of WordPress. Use your existing WordPress.org username and Get Favorites. You can view all your Favorites Plugins and also install them here on WordPress Admin Screen. Making favorites is really awesome.
Use Upload Option to Install Plugins
There is one Upload option next to Search option on Plugin Installer page. It simply asks you to browse, select and upload *zip file from your PC. Do you have plugins in .zip format on your PC? Well, you can download plugins from WordPress.org website in zip format. This downloading and uploading can be avoided using other options on the same Plugin Installer page. But there are other sources also which are not accessible using these options. Premium plugins are sold separately on plugin marketplaces. Authors also tend to host their codes on secure places like github. You can download zipped plugins from demo sites too or maybe you have got one e–mailed to you. Right!
*A zip file is a special file that allows you to store and compress many files together, resulting in a single file that is small and fast to download. Select one to upload and click Install Now.
Upload via FTP Client instead of Plugin Installer
Unzipping creates a directory on your PC with the same name as zip file. Some softwares create a surrounding directory for the unzipped package. Click and open unzipped directory to see if it’s a container, or plugin package itself – where all plugin files are located. You should upload plugin package and not the container or surrounding directory.
Connect to web server using FTP Client – refer to Changing File Permissions above. Browse wp-content/plugins/ directory where WordPress keeps installed plugins. So what WordPress Automatic Plugin Installer does is, unzip the .zip file on its own and place the unzipped package here. You have got your unzipped package too, now upload this plugin directory onto your web server. To upload, select (highlight) the directory on your PC, then drag it to the right-side frame (remote site) and drop into the appropriate directory (roll your mouse over the plugins folder to highlight) on the remote server. Each FTP client operates differently, so please consult help file for complete instructions. Uploading should complete in few seconds. Go to your website Dashboard and locate your newly installed plugin here on the Installed Plugins page. Got it? OK, now you know what to do – click Activate.
How to Uninstall WordPress Plugins
You can Deactivate any one of the installed plugins and keep it idle in plugin directory with current settings untouched. This option could be used to stop a plugin temporarily. If you are sure that the plugin is not useful, then it’s better to uninstall it from WordPress. WordPress offers you Delete option instead of Uninstall. Delete button appears when you deactivate installed plugins.
How to Delete WordPress Plugins via FTP
You can also uninstall or delete WordPress plugins using an FTP Client. As you have already learned about FTP programs, you can complete the process in 3 simple steps. Open FTP program and log in to the site using FTP details. Navigate to the folder named after plugin title inside …/wp-content/plugins/… directory where all WordPress plugins are placed on remote server. Select the plugin folder/files and press Delete option to remove it from the server.
How to Update WordPress Plugins
Installing is only an aspect of managing plugins. There is more you should know. But don’t worry, when you start practicing things you learn naturally. I don’t want to make this tutorial too long, that’s why I am writing about plugin updates in an another article – How to Update WordPress Plugins – Complete Guide.
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