How to Install a WordPress Plugin – Step by Step for Beginners

After installing WordPress, the first thing every beginner needs to learn is how to install a WordPress plugin. Plugins allow you to add new features to WordPress such as add a gallery, slideshow, etc. There are thousands of free and paid plugins available for WordPress. In this step by step guide, we will show you how to install a WordPress plugin.

How to Install a Plugin in WordPress

Before You Start

If you are using WordPress.com, then you cannot install plugins.

We often get complains from users saying that they can’t see the plugins menu in their WordPress dashboard. It is because you are using WordPress.com, which has its limitations.

In order to use plugins, you will need to use self-hosted WordPress.org (See the differences between self hosted WordPress.org vs WordPress.com).

If you want to switch from WordPress.com to WordPress.org, then read our tutorial on how to properly move from WordPress.com to WordPress.org.

How to Install a WordPress Plugin

To make it easy, we have created a video tutorial on how to install a WordPress plugin that you can watch below.

However if you just want to follow text-instructions, then you can follow our step by step tutorial on how to install a WordPress plugin.

We have covered all three methods: installing a WordPress plugin using search, uploading a WordPress plugin, and manually installing a WordPress plugin using FTP.

Install a Plugin using WordPress Plugin Search

The easiest way of installing a WordPress plugin is to use the plugin search. The only downside of this option is that a plugin must be in the WordPress plugin directory which is limited to only free plugins.

First thing you need to do is go to your WordPress admin area and click on Plugins » Add New.

Searching for plugins to install in WordPress admin area

You will see a screen like the one in the screenshot above. Find the plugin by typing the plugin name or the functionality you are looking for, like we did. After that, you will see a bunch of listings like the example below:

Plugin search results

You can pick the plugin that is best for you. Since in our search, we were looking for Floating Social Bar which happens to be the first plugin, we will click the ‘Install Now’ button.

WordPress will now download and install the plugin for you. After this, you will see the success message with a link to activate the plugin or return to plugin installer.

Activating a plugin

A WordPress plugin can be installed on your site, but it will not work unless you activate it. So go ahead and click on the activate plugin link to activate the plugin on your WordPress site.

That’s all, you have successfully installed your first WordPress plugin.

The next step is to configure the plugin settings. These settings will vary for each plugin therefore we will not be covering that in this post.

Install a Plugin using the WordPress Admin Plugin Upload

Paid WordPress plugins are not listed in the WordPress plugin directory. These plugins cannot be installed using the first method.

That’s why WordPress has the Upload method to install such plugins. We will show you how to install WordPress plugin using the upload option in the admin area.

First, you need to download the plugin from the source (which will be a zip file). Next, you need to go to WordPress admin area and visit Plugins » Add New page.

After that, click on the Upload Plugin button on top of the page.

Uploading a plugin from WordPress admin area

This will bring you to the plugin upload page. Here you need to click on the choose file button and select the plugin file you downloaded earlier to your computer.

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Plugin upload page

After you have selected the file, you need to click on the install now button.

WordPress will now upload the plugin file from your computer and install it for you. You will see a success message like this after installation is finished.

Activate plugin

Once installed, you need to click on the Activate Plugin link to start using the plugin.

You would have to configure the settings to fit your needs. These settings will vary for each plugin therefore we will not be covering that in this post.

Manually Install a WordPress Plugin using FTP

In some cases, your WordPress hosting provider may have file restrictions that could limit your ability to install a plugin from the admin area.

In this situation, your best bet is to install the plugin manually using FTP.

The FTP manager method is the least friendly for beginners.

First you will need to download the plugin’s source file (it will be a zip file). Next, you need to extract the zip file on your computer.

Extracting the plugin zip file will create a new folder with the same name. This is the folder that you need to manually upload to your website using a FTP client.

You would need to access your host through the FTP manager. If you do not have your FTP username and password, then contact your WordPress hosting provider and ask them.

Open the FTP client on your computer and connect to your website using the login credentials provided by your web host. Once connected, you need to access the path /wp-content/plugins/

Next, upload the folder you extracted from the zip file to the /wp-content/plugins/ folder on your web server.

Uploading a WordPress plugin files using FTP

After uploading the files, you need to visit the WordPress admin area and click on the Plugins link in the admin menu. You will see your plugin successfully installed on the plugins page.

Installed plugins

You need to click on the Activate link below the plugin. Upon activating, you may need to configure the plugin settings. WordPress plugins come with their own settings which differ from one plugin to another so we will not describe them here.

We hope this helped you learn how to install WordPress plugins. You may also want to see our plugins category where we write about the best WordPress plugins that you can use to accomplish whatever you’re looking to do. Each of those articles come with step-by-step instructions on how to setup individual plugins.