How to Install a WordPress Plugin

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Like most WordPress features, the plugin system is easy and intuitive to use. WordPress offers 4 ways in which to install plugins, via their plugin management interface, uploading the zip file, manually uploading via FTP and using WP-CLI to install. In this article, we're going to show you how to do all 4 methods starting from easiest to hardest.

Important Note: if you're running a website on it's not possible to install a plugin manually that isn't on the plugin repository. If you have third party plugins from example, codecanyon, you will need to move to self-hosted systems, like what we offer with our managed WordPress hosting.

Installing a plugin from your WordPress dashboard

Installing a plugin can be done in just a few clicks, to streamline this process you can watch the video below.

Installing a plugin from the WordPress repository

To install any of the 55,000+ available plugins on the repository, simply log in to your WordPress admin area, then click on "Plugins->Add New" on the left hand menu.

You will then see a page showing featured/trending plugins, and more importantly, a search box at the top right. This is where we'll search for the plugin we wish to install.

For the purposes of this guide, we're going to go ahead and install the wpowl-manager plugin, so go ahead and type the name of the plugin you wish to install into the search box.

Once you can see the plugin you would like to install, click on the "Install Now" button and then on the "Activate" button.

Congratulations, you've now installed a plugin on your WordPress website. If you have a premium plugin, or would like to install from zip file, keep reading!

Install a WordPress Plugin Manually from Zip File in your WordPress Dashboard

Much like installing a plugin from the repository, installing from zip file is quick and easy.

Again, we'll go to Plugins->Add New

But this time, instead of using the search box at the top right, we're going to use the button at the top left that says "Upload Plugin"

You'll then be asked to choose the file to upload, click on the button and browse your computer files to select the plugin zip file.

Click on "Install Now" and then click on "Activate"

You have now installed your plugin from a zip file.

Install a WordPress Plugin from FTP Upload

Simmilar to installing fia ZIP file, plugins can be extracted locally and uploaded to your WordPress installation.

To get started you will need an FTP client such as Filezilla.

  1. When installed you will need to put in your FTP details and connect to the server. These details can be fetched from your control panel where your hosting is managed.
  2. Enter the host, the username, password and port and click Quickconnect. Once connected you will see a list of local folders in the bottom right window.
  3. Every hosting provider can use a different folder structure but with WPOwl our folder structure is as follows - /
  4. Click the folder with your site name, and then click the public folder. The following folders are the structure of the WordPress installation.
  5. To upload a plugin, you will need to first make sure you have extracted the plugin files from the zip file.
  6. Navigate to wp-content folder and then the folder called plugins. you will see a list of folders of all installed plugins.
  7. In the bottom left window, navigate to where you have extracted the plugin files. Right-click on the folder and click upload. IMPORTANT make sure you are uploading the folder with all the extracted files, not just the .PHP and other files inside it.
  8. Once completed, you can navigate to your WordPress dashboard and visit plugins > installed plugins.
  9. The plugin list will show your new plugin installed, the next step is to click activate.

Install a WordPress plugin from WP-CLI

WP-CLI is provided on WPOwl's hosting so check your host supports it and SSH connections.

You will need a SSH Client to connect to the command line of your website, we suggest putty for windows users and terminal for macs/linux.

Your SSH connection information is usually the same as your FTP/control panel login details. With WPOwl, our SFTP details are the same as SSH details.

  1. Enter in the hostname and port, usually 22 and click connect.
  2. Enter in your username and repeat for your password - note: the password will not show any input characters or stars, this is for security.
  3. once connected browse to the public (sometimes public_html with other providers) by entering cd public
  4. once in your public directory, you can now perform WP-CLI commands
  5. The command to install a plugin is wp plugin install plugin_name --activate this will install and activate the plugin


Neil Skoglund
Avid WordPress fan and founder of WPOwl - home of the best managed WordPress hosting. Neil has 3 passions in life,  coding, guitars & family.

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