Plugins are like greeting cards. There is one for almost anything you can think of. They extend the functionality of your WordPress website by improving performance, providing security, adding social share options, delivering awesome images and just about anything you can dream up. But don’t worry. Whether your latest plugin is from the WordPress repository or a custom plugin you downloaded, learning how to install a plugin in WordPress is far easier than picking out the perfect birthday card for Great Aunt Mabel.
Install a Plugin from the WordPress Repository
With almost 50,000 plugins to choose from, there is likely to be a plugin in the WordPress repository to suit almost any occasion. To find a plugin to install, go to the Plugin page in your WordPress dashboard and choose Add New from the top of the page. Plugins from the WordPress repository will be displayed.
You can search for the name of the plugin if you know it or simply search for a keyword. If you see an interesting plugin, click More Details under the install button to learn more about what it can do and to see the plugin ratings. Avoid plugins that have not been updated recently or that have a lot of negative reviews. Generally those plugins with a large number of installs are best but early adopters might like to test out new plugins.
Install the Plugin
Once you’ve found the plugin you are looking for, click the Install Now button to install the plugin.
Activate the Plugin
Go to the list of installed plugins and click the Activate button. Your plugin is installed and activated.
Configure the Settings
Now here is where it can get tricky. Most plugins require some setup but the challenge is often finding out where to customize your settings. In some cases, the settings option will be on the plugin page as is the case with the NextScripts: Social Networks Auto-Poster plugin I’m installing here. Other plugins might create a menu option in your dashboard sidebar. And yet other plugins will create a new sub-menu option in the Settings menu.
Once you’ve found the settings, follow the instructions to configure your new plugin.
Install a Plugin from a Zip File
In addition to all the free plugins in the WordPress repository, there are other more fully featured plugins available for sale on sites like ThemeForest or directly from the plugin authors.
Examples of plugins that I’ve purchased and installed are the Yoast SEO Premium Plugin, Visual Composer page builder by wpbakery and Intense Shortcodes. When you purchase a premium plugin, you will be provided with a zip file, and normally a license file with a license number. I normally save both of these in my downloads folder inside a folder named for the plugin so I can easily find it if I need to reinstall it later.
Install the Plugin
Go to the Plugin page in your WordPress dashboard and choose Add New from the top of the page. From the top of the page, choose Upload Plugin. Click on Choose File and navigate to where you saved the zip file you downloaded.
Once you’ve selected the file, click Install now. The file will be uploaded, unpacked and installed.
Activate and Register the Plugin
Activate the plugin and locate the settings area for it. Methods of registering a premium plugin vary from plugin to plugin but you will be looking for some type menu option to enter a product license. On screen help is usually available to walk you through the process. In my example, the Intense Shortcodes plugin, the plugin is added to the settings menu and there is a further sub-menu called Product License that requires me to enter my Envato username, api key, purchase code, email, first name, and last name to activate the plugin and receive updates.