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To extend the functionality of WordPress, WordPress Plugins are composed of php scripts. They can offer new features to your blog that either add otherwise unavailable new additions or enhance features that were already available on your site.

WordPress Plugins Essentials

Most of WordPress users require a few Plugins, such as Plugins dealing with customized post listings or comment spam protection. Other people enjoy the featured Plugins which provide post word counts, frequently updated weather reports, rating systems, etc. WordPress Plugins are they are not incorporated into the core of WordPress since they are optional and based upon the needs of the user.

Plugins are designed by volunteers and usually free to download and available via the WordPress Plugins Directory site. WordPress Plugins are considered thoroughly “safe” and tested being hosted in the WordPress Plugins Directory. Don’t forget, WordPress Plugins are typically works-in-progress as WordPress expands and grows. They are the responsibility of the user and the author.

How To Find Plugins

You can find WordPress Plugins directly via the Official WordPress Plugins Directory or in the Administration Panels > Plugins > Add New panel.

Updates and Plugin Compatibility

To determine if updates are available and compatibility check the WordPress Plugin in the WordPress Plugins Directory or on the Plugins List on your WordPress site.

To update the Plugin, follow the instructions. You will see if a WordPress Plugin update is available. It will be shown on the Plugin List, on the Dashboard Panel and as an palert on the Plugin’s menu title.

You can always contact the Plugin author directly for information on compatibility issues and the next update if a WordPress Plugin was updated for the next release of WordPress is not compatible.

Installing Plugins

Automatic Plugin Installation

Use the built-in plugin installer to add a WordPress Plugin:

  1. Click Plugins > Add New.
  2. Click a tag link below the search form or type in descriptive keyword, the name of the WordPress Plugin, tag or the author in the search form.
  3. Choose the needed WordPress Plugin.
    1. To know more about the Plugin and see the instructions, click Details.
    2. To install the WordPress Plugin, click Install Now.
  4. You will see a popup window which will ask you to confirm the plugins installation.
  5. You may need to enter the FTP login credential information, if this is the first time you have installed a WordPress Plugin. This information is available through your web server host. There will still be the login information, if you have installed a Plugin before.
  6. To continue with the installation, click Proceed. The resulting installation screen will note any problems during the install or list the installation as successful.
  7. To activate the Plugin, click Activate Plugin if the installation was successful. For further actions, return to Plugin Installer.

To customize some WordPress Plugins it may require more steps. See the ReadMe file and follow step-by-step instructions. This information becomes available on the Plugins Panel for each Plugin after the installation.

How to Install a Plugin Manually

Manual installation of a WordPress Plugin is appropriate in a following cases:

  • If you want to control the process and placement and installing a WordPress Plugin.
  • If automatic installation of a WordPress Plugin is not permitted by your server.
  • When official WordPress Plugin Directory does not contain the WordPress Plugin.

Firstly, backup your site completely before proceeding. You should have the awareness that you may put your site at risk if you install a WordPress Plugin from an unreliable source or it will be incompatible with the current WordPress version. In addition, installation of a WordPress Plugin manually requires FTP familiarity.

How To install a WordPress Plugin manually:

  1. Download a WordPress Plugin and ensure it appeared on your desktop.
  2. Extract the Plugin folder to your desktop if downloaded file is a zip archive.
  3. Ensure you follow the installation instructions in the “readme” file.
  4. Using your FTP program, upload the Plugin folder to the wp-content/plugins folder in your WordPress directory online.
  5. Find the newly uploaded Plugin in the Plugins screen list.
  6. To activate the Plugin, click Activate button.

For further instructions and customization, check the Details readme file.

Plugin Favorites

Since 2012 the plugin repository provides the ability to favorite a plugin. Version 3.5 comes with the possibility to easily install and display a user’s favorite plugins. To do it, click Dashboard => Add New.

Plugin Repository

How to favorite a plugin:

  1. Log in to the official WordPress Plugins Repository
  2. Click the Favorite link below the plugin’s download button when viewing a plugin’s page.

You will see your favourite plugin in public profile, as well as your rating of the plugin.

How to Install Favorite Plugins

Find WordPress dashboard to install plugins from a user’s list of favorites:

  1. Click Plugins > Add New.
  2. Type in the WordPress.org username Under Favorites. It is the name of the user whose favorites you would like to install. Then click Get Favorites.
  3. To install the plugins you would like, follow the Installing Plugins section above.

Solve problems

Often, a WordPress Plugin conflicts with another WordPress Plugin or may not work as expected.

  1. Ensure you follow all included instructions.
  2. Go to the Plugin Panel of your Administration Panels and check that the Plugin has been activated.
  3. Reactivate and Deactivate the Plugin several times to see if this makes it work properly.
  4. Go to the WordPress Support Forums and search the solution using keywords associated with the problem you are experiencing and the name of the Plugin.
  5. To find links to issues reported in the Forums and the notes on the Plugin, check the WordPress Plugins Directory.
  6. Сheck the Plugin page as well as the website of the Plugin author or his/her blog to find issues or advice.
  7. Use keywords associated with the trouble and the name of the Plugin to search the web.
  8. Put a post with the name of the Plugin and specific problems on the WordPress Support Forums.
  9. If you cannot seem to solve the problem, try to use similar WordPress Plugins.
  10. If you have no fear of going “under the hood”, try the following tips below for solving the problem yourself.

Advanced problem solvation

Use the following recommendations if a Plugin you installed stopped working after upgrades or you are experiencing problems with the one:

  1. Use your FTP program to delete the Plugin files/folder and upload it again if you installed the Plugin manually.
  2. If you changed the WordPress Theme template files to add customization or the Plugin’s code, make sure they are spelled right (including letter case), placed in the appropriate place, e.g., within the WordPress Loop or outside of it and correct.
  3. Delete the old version prior to uploading the new one if you are uploading a new version to replace the old. Ensure that you uploaded the file to the Plugins folder under wp-content.
  4. If you cannot see the Plugin in the Plugins List, ensure the Plugin’s header text exists and is properly formed. To do it, view the Plugin’s main file in the Plugin Editor.
  5. Try to use one of the default WordPress Themes to see if your issue is Theme related if you are using a custom WordPress Theme. If needed, contact the Theme author for advice.
  6. To ensure they are not causing the problem, deactivate the rest of your Plugins. Reactivate the problematic plugin several times. There may be a conflict if it works properly. Then test the site to see if the problem ceases or returns to indicate the conflicting Plugin. Activate the others one-by-one and see if the plugin start working.

How to Uninstall Plugins

To uninstall a WordPress Plugin:

  1. Go to Plugins screen.
  2. Find the Plugin you wish to deactivate and uninstall.
  3. Click Deactivate.

The Plugin will initiate the deactivation.

Most WordPress Plugins have an option to completely uninstall themselves, though not all. If you wish to remove a WordPress Plugin permanently:

  1. Check the WordPress Plugin instructions in the Details readme file on how to properly uninstall the Plugin.
  2. If the WordPress Plugin required the addition of code to the WordPress Theme, manually edit the Theme files to remove it.
  3. Deactivate the Plugin and remove it manually through your FTP program.
    1. Login to the site via your FTP Program.
    2. Go to the Plugin directory and find where the Plugin is installed.
    3. Delete the WordPress Plugin folder and/or files from your server.

Available WordPress Plugin Tips

The following information for is for advanced users and developers. It contains WordPress Plugin tips and techniques.

How to Manage Plugins

To manage Plugins, go to the Administration Screens of your WordPress site => the Plugins screen. You can find all Plugins listed on this screen in your wp-content/plugins directory. Each Plugin has a version number a description in its header section of what it does, website to refer to and its author. If it does not appear in the list of installed Plugins, most likely this Plugin is missing the “File Header”:

Plugin Name: Example Plugin
Plugin URI: http://example.com/example-plugin
Description: Example Plugin is an example
Version: 2.3
Author: Mr. Example
Author URI: http://example.com/

The header section includes:

Plugin Name

This section defines the Plugin’s name. Plugins listed in bold are currently active. In addition, it links to the Plugin’s website if one is provided.


The number of the Plugins version.


The description of who authored the Plugin and what the Plugin does.


Allows you to activate, edit and deactivate the Plugin.

New version available

A message will display along with a download link if a newer version of a WordPress Plugin is available.

Changes of the Theme

Direct modification to a WordPress Theme is no longer required in most WordPress Themes. All you should know if you are using a WordPress Theme without direct modification:

  1. Make notes to remind yourself to re-add the Plugin code to the updated Theme or use a Child Theme since any updates to the WordPress Theme may remove the Plugin modification code.
  2. Any changes you made will not carry over automatically to the new Theme if you change Themes. Even if you use a Child Theme which is not associated with the new Theme, you will need to add or copy them manually to the new WordPress Theme.
  3. Check the Plugin’s code manually or use a Child Theme to ensure it is still active since upgrading WordPress may conflict with your WordPress Theme modifications and make changes to the code.

Required Plugins

Required Plugins are special WordPress Plugins installed in a special directory next to the normal /plugins/ dir (/mu-plugins/). They don’t even show up on the list being instantly activated and cannot be de-activated through the admin Plugins panel. They are “must-use” if you are using the Multisite version of WordPress since because once their file is placed in the /mu-plugins/ directory.

Required Plugins are useful to make WordPress Plugins functionality across the entire blog network. They aimed for installing WordPress Plugins on all sites in a Multisite installation. Required Plugins are loaded by PHP before normal Plugins, which means that hooked-functions and code registered in an mu-plugin and can be assumed to another Plugins.

How to Hide Deactivated Plugins

Some WordPress Plugins add tags to the template files when activated. After Plugin’s deactivation, these tags can affect the functionality and/or look of the Theme and may remain, resulting in failures to load and errors. If the plugin is deactivated it is necessary to deactivate all its parts.

To determine if such a condition exists, you can perform a simple function_exists() check. Just add some php code to the template file where the Plugin was used. Configure the function you’d like to check and paste the code in the example below. Then the modified template should be uploaded to WordPress Content folder.

The if (function_exists()) will use the Plugin if it exists (activated or not). If it returns “not found” or FALSE, it will continue loading the page and ignore the Plugin tag.

if (function_exists('FUNCTION NAME')) {

This example Plugin uses a function called magic_one() to print out its contents.

if (function_exists('magic_one')) {

How to Develop Plugins

You may sometimes wonder how you ever got along without using WordPress Plugins them, once you start using them. Moreover, you can develop your own Plugins if you have knowledge of PHP since to get you started, WordPress provides a comprehensive list of tools.

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