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How to Install a WordPress Plugin

How to Install a WordPress Plugin

I can go on and on about how highly I regard WordPress as a user-friendly content management system, but the truth of the matter is that, in addition to the platform itself, plugins are extremely helpful in extending the functionality of WordPress, allowing you to add advanced features to your site that would otherwise require knowledge of HTML, CSS, PHP and/or Javascript, not to mention hours of work. The great news is that third-party developers have spent that time for you by developing thousands of plugins to do everything from allow you to easily manage your Search Engine Optimization settings to add social media sharing buttons to your posts. The best part is that these plugins are super easy to install and implement – and I’ll show you how!

Note: The instructions below are for a self-hosted WordPress site, if you website is hosted on WordPress.com these steps will not work. 

How to Install a Plugin:

  1. First and foremost, you absolutely, positively need to backup your WordPress site. In fact – you should always back up your website regularly.
  2. Make sure you are using the latest version of WordPress. If the version you are using is not the most recent release, you will see a notice when you log in in to your dashboard that prompts you to update. If you don’t see a notice to update, you should be good to go!
  3. In the left hand sidebar of your dashboard, click on Plugins > Add New01a
  4. Search for a Plugin: Type in a plugin name or the type of plugin you would like to install and click Search Plugins. (If you have already downloaded a plugin to your computer and just want to upload and install it, you can do so by clicking on the Upload link at the top of the screen and selecting the plugin you wish to install)02a
  5. Browse through the plugins listed and click on details for more information about a specific plugin.03a
  6. If the plugin you have selected is compatible with your current WordPress version, and looks like what you want, click Install.Click Install!
  7. Once WordPress displays a message that it has successfully installed the plugin, click on Activate Plugin. This may take a moment to appear depending on the size of the plugin, speed of your connection, etc.05a
  8. Congratulations! Once the Plugin Activated notice is displayed, you have successfully installed the plugin and are ready to configure it’s settings.06a
  9. You should now see the plugin listed in the sidebar of your admin panel. If it does not show on it’s own, it may be listed as a subheading under one of the main headings. For instance, TinyMCE Advanced is listed under Settings.Settings
  10. Enjoy your new plugin!

It is also important to note that since most plugins are third-party, it is possible that a plugin doesn’t work with the most recent version of WordPress or your specific theme. It is also possible that the plugin can make your site appear a little off. No need to worry if it does, typically just deactivating the plugin will get everything back to normal. Before installing any plugins, do a quick Google search and keep an eye out for other user’s issues. Use your best judgement and only download plugins with a proven track record (as made apparent by it’s rating) and that is being updated to be compatible with newer WordPress versions. If you have issues with a plugin crashing your site, simply navigate to the plugin folder through FTP (root folder > wp-content > plugins)and delete the folder of the plugin that you activated, causing your site to crash. This will deactivate the plugin and remove it – and the issues it caused.

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