how to install a WordPress plugin

Basic Tutorial #6:

How to Install a WordPress Plugin

WordPress Tutorial #6

Installing a WordPress plugin is pretty straightforward. Let’s walk through it, using a plugin that every site will need anyway.

Just as you need to save backups of your important documents on your home or office computer, you need to back up your WordPress site regularly as well. There are lots of available backup plugins to choose from.

I’m partial to one called WP-DB Manager, so we’ll use that as our example.

There are two ways to install a WordPress plugin:

  1. Search and download from
  2. Download the plugin to your computer, then upload it into WordPress

We’ll review the search and download method first.

#1. Click Plugins / Add New

From your WordPress Dashboard, click on Plugins, then Add New.

how to add a plugin to your WordPress website

#2. Find your Plugin

WordPress maintains a repository of thousands of plugins. Naturally you don’t want to scroll through each one.

Fortunately they have a pretty good search feature, and you can use it from within WordPress.

how to add a WordPress plugin

I already know the name of the plugin I want to install, so I can type it directly into the search box.

If you don’t have a specific plugin name, you can type in a search term like “database” or “backup,” then click the “Search Plugins” button and select from the list that pops up.

how to add a plugin to your WordPress site

Notice there’s a star rating system for the plugins. You should always choose a plugin with at least 4 stars. There are other ways to determine how good a plugin is, and we talk about them in this article.

#3. Click “Install Now”

how to add a WordPress plugin

#4. Activate

You may or may not see the progress as your plugin is installed — sometimes it happens pretty fast. But when WordPress is finished installing it, the Install button changes to Activate.

plugin is installed and ready to activate

Activate it here, or from your list of installed plugins.

You’ll notice two new items:

  1. Database now appears in your left-hand navigation column.
  2. WP-Database Manager is now in your list of plugins.
plugin is installed and active

Installing the Plugin as an Upload from your Computer

The process here is almost identical. If you already have the plugin — maybe you purchased a premium plugin or downloaded it from someplace other than — Step #2 changes.

You don’t have to search for the plugin. Instead of the clicking the “Search” link on the Install Plugins page, click the Upload Plugin button.

Then click the Choose File button and navigate to where the file is stored on your hard drive. (Note: the file must be in zip format!)

Click the Install Now button (Step #3 above) and continue with those instructions.

That’s all there is to it! You’ve installed and activated a plugin.

Some plugins might need you to set them up once they’re installed and activated. If that’s the case, they’ll usually pop up a message on your WordPress dashboard with a link to the Settings you need to adjust.

After you’ve learned how to install a WordPress plugin, it’s time to add a particular plugin to cut down on comment spam on your site.

This post was updated on May 1, 2019.

2 thoughts on “#6: How to Install a WordPress Plugin”

  1. Hi Susanna,

    Sorry I’m late commenting on this post but it was an excellent walk through of how to install a plug-in. I know that for a lot of people who aren’t quite sure they are just too nervous to do things they aren’t sure of. I know I would be so I did send this post to a friend of mine. Now if I can just get her to follow through and install one herself.

    Great tutorial.


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