How to Install WordPress Plugins – Two Simple Methods


Fiona O’Connell


2019 February 8th

WordPress is one of the most extensive content management systems (CMS) on the market. And one of the best things about it is the incredibly extensive plugin catalog.

Trust me: if you want to get the most out of your WordPress site, you'll need to use a variety of different plugins.

Current WordPress plugins offer everything from payment processing to Google Analytics capabilities. Best of all, most of these plugins come completely free of charge. And once you know how to install WordPress plugins, you'll be able to set them up in no time!

So, in this tutorial, we'll be talking about how to install WordPress plugins, I'll break the entire process down step-by-step, so you can follow this together.

Here is how to install WordPress plugins:

  • Step 1 - Scroll over the 'Plugins' tab on your dashboard
  • Step 2 - Select 'Add New' from the sub-menu
  • Step 3 - Search for your plugin
  • Step 4 - Click 'Install Now'
  • Step 5 - Click 'Activate'

Scroll Over 'Plugins' Tab on Your Dashboard

To get the process started, head to the homepage of your WordPress's administrative site. On the left-hand side of the page, a dashboard will provide you with a range of different admin options. Scroll your cursor over the 'Plugins' tab that appears on this left-hand dashboard.

Select 'Add New' From the Sub-Menu

As your cursor scrolls over the 'Plugins' tab, a sub-menu will immediately appear to the right of the dashboard. On the sub-menu, click on the 'Add New' button. This will then load the plugins database that you can use to search for free plugins.

How to Install WordPress Plugins Dashboard Menu

Search for Your Plugin

Once the plugin database loads, you need to find the search bar on the top right-hand corner of the page. Here, search for the plugin that you want to download. There are thousands of different plugins, from WP content plugins to custom online store plugins. For the purpose of this tutorial, I'll be installing WooCommerce.

How to Install WordPress Plugins Search

Click 'Install Now'

Once the plugin you want appears, you'll need to install it to your WordPress site. In the top right-hand corner of the plugin preview, you will see an 'Install Now' button. Click on this to begin the installation process.

And don't worry, it only takes a few seconds to install.

Disclaimer: Even if you type the exact name of the plugin that you want to install, a different plugin may also appear within the search results. Make sure to choose the exact plugin that you're trying to download. Overall rating and number of installations may help you see which one's which.

How to Install WordPress Plugins Install Button

Click 'Activate'

After your plugin is done installing, the 'Install Now' will transform into an 'Activate' button. Click 'Activate' if you want to activate the plugin on your WordPress site. You don't have to click 'Activate' straight away if you want to keep the plugin inactive. You're always welcome to activate plugins at a later date from your main plugin menu.

How to Install WordPress Plugins Activate Button


(Additional Step) View Currently Installed or Activated Plugins

If you'd like to view your current plugins, you can access them from your dashboard whenever you want.

Scroll over the 'Plugins' tab and select the 'Installed Plugins' option from the sub-menu. Here you will be able to access their settings, as well as deactivate or activate your current plugins.

How to Install WordPress Plugins Currently Installed

Installing a Plugin from External Source

Now that you know how to install WordPress plugins available on the WordPress site, it's time to look at a different type of plugin option. Unfortunately (or fortunately), WordPress only allows you to download free plugins on their .org site. If you want to access other premium plugins, you'll need to know how to upload a plugin from an external source.

Fortunately, it's not hard at all once you know what you're doing. Let's take a look in more detail below.

1. Download your external plugin

If you've found a plugin you like from an external source, download it to your computer.  Then you upload it to WordPress. In most cases, you can download these plugins as a zip folder.

You'll need a zip folder if you want to easily upload it to WordPress's platform.

Disclaimer: There is often a price associated with downloading external plugins. Make sure you only download plugins from sources you can trust.

2. Head back to 'Add New' Tab

Next, start by scrolling over the 'Plugins' tab on the left-hand side dashboard menu. Select 'Add New' from the sub-menu that appears to the right.

3. Click Upload Plugin at the Top of the Page

After you arrive at the plugin database, you'll see an 'Upload Plugin' button at the top of the page. Click on this button to redirect yourself to the upload page.

How to Install WordPress Plugins upload button

4. Choose file and click install

After you arrive at the upload page, click 'Choose File' and find the zip file of your plugin. Upload this file to begin the installation process. Then, click 'Install Now' when the file is done uploading to the portal.

How to Install WordPress Plugins plugins upload portal

5. Click 'Activate' (Optional)

Once the plugin is installed, WordPress will notify you. This may take longer than installing a WordPress plugin that is already on the platform. You'll then be prompted to click 'Activate' if you want to immediately activate the plugin.

Again, this is optional; you can always activate your plugin at a later date!

WordPress Plugins - Don't Overdo It

If you're new to WordPress, it's easy to get caught up in all the awesome features that this content management system provides. Plugins are one of the biggest advantages of using the WordPress service, but try not to go overboard.

If you scroll through the thousands of plugins available on WordPress, you may feel as though your site could benefit from a significant number of them. Unfortunately, overusing plugins is a major contributor to lagging site performance.

While some plugins can actually improve your site performance, plugins that require large server resources will often damage your page's ability to load its content quickly.

And while a few seconds may not sound like a big deal to you, Google sees it differently. One of the primary components of SEO is page speed. If your site doesn't load quickly when someone clicks on your links, you probably won't ever be a top performer in a Google search request.

Verdict: It's Easier Than It Sounds

Adding plugins and other features to your WordPress site can sound intimidating if you don't have much experience with website builders.

Fortunately, WordPress makes it extremely easy to download plugins and activate them. As long as you use the steps in my how to install WordPress plugins tutorial, you won't have any issues upgrading your site!

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