How to Install a New WordPress Plugin Step by Step

As, WordPress themes, WordPress plugins need to be installed to extend the software features and functions. Luckily, there are thousands of plugins to use for free, and there are others, that are paid, and they are easy to install.

Today, I will talk about how to install a WordPress plugin for beginners. Of course, you can install the plugins from your Dashboard, and also, with an FTP client such as Filezilla if you have a problem with your plugin installation, and you get errors.

At the same time, you can use your cPanel for any plugin installations, and it’s faster than the FTP that takes more time to upload the file.

Installing a WordPress plugin from the dashboard

This is the easiest way to install your plugins. All you have to do is to upload a ZIP file and follow the steps. The problem here is that lots of WordPress users, especially, beginners forget that they can only upload ZIP files from there.

So, they get errors when they have a “RAR” or any other file format that the WordPress plugin installer from the dashboard can’t recognize. So, make sure to have only, a ZIP plugin file in this case.

To start the installation process, log in to your WordPress dashboard and click on “Plugins” and then, “Add New”, as the following screenshot.

Install a new Plugin in WordPress

Now, you will get the plugins options, you have two options, the first one is to search for free plugins, and installing them from the WordPress directory. In this case, you don’t have to do anything as uploading, as the plugin is stored in the WordPress website, and you just need to add it from there.

The second option is uploading the plugin, from your computer, and you need to click the “Upload” option.

How to Install a New Plugin in WordPress

Option 1: Installing plugins from the WordPress directory

Let’s start with the first option, where you want to search a plugin, and install it from the WordPress plugins directory. Enter any word in the search box, for example, “comments” and hit the “search plugins” button. Then, you will get lots of plugins, that are related to your exact keyword. Find the one that you want to use, and click “Install” as this screenshot example.

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installing WordPress plugin

On the next page, you can activate the plugins by clicking the “Activate Plugin” link, as in the next screenshot.

activate plugin

That’s it, you have just installed a WordPress plugin. To find the plugin options, go to “Settings” and search for the new plugin name, and click on it. If it comes with options and a dashboard, you will manage it from there.

Option 2: Uploading a WordPress plugin manually

This option is the most used in the premium plugins, where they come in ZIP files, and you download them from Codecanyon, for example. In this case, make sure to upload the exact plugin folder, and not the attached files with it.

So, if you have PDF files or documentation in the same folder, then, you should exclude them and only upload the plugin file name, copy it, and move it to your desktop.

Now, that you have your Plugin file in a zip format, click on the “Upload” option, and then, select the exact file from your computer.

upload WordPress plugin

If you don’t have a way to convert a RAR file into ZIP use any of the free online file converters. Not all the plugin folders come in ZIP and you should convert them.

ZIP Plugin file


How to Install WordPres plugins

Now, wait some seconds while the plugins being uploaded, then, you will get an option to install them. Finally, activate your uploaded plugins and it’s done.

activating the uploaded plugin

Installing your WordPress plugins from cPanel

The majority of the modern web hosting companies use the cPanel control panel. It’s easy to use, and powerful to edit and manage your files that are stored on a distant server. First, log in to cPanel and then click the “File Manager” icon.

File Manager

Then, find the  “wp-content” directory, and next the “Plugins” folder as the following example.

WordPress contentWhen you’re in the plugins folder, you can upload the one that you want from your local computer, by clicking “Upload”, at the top of the cPanel file Manager page.

upload plugin in Cpanel

You will get a new window, where you need to choose the files from your computer, and upload it, it will automatically start the process. Wait some time, and you will see “compete” at the bottom of the page.

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WordPress plugins uploading

Now, the WordPress plugin was uploaded, but it’s compressed. So, you need to find it, it’s located at the bottom of your plugins list, select it, then, click on the “Extract” option at the top of the page.

extract WordPress plugin

You will get a small pop-up window to validate your choice. Just click “extract files” and don’t modify its location, the plugin should be extracted in the WordPress plugins directory.

Your plugin is installed but not yet active. So, come back to the WordPress dashboard, and click the “Plugins” link, and you will find the plugins that you need. The final step to do is to click “Activate” as in the next screenshot example.

how to activate WordPress plugin

That’s all, you have the plugin installed and active, and you should use WordPress properly. If something happens, such as error messages, make sure that you have uploaded only, the ZIP file, and the exact plugin file and not the files with the documentation.

You don’t need to use the FileZilla FTP if you have a cPanel. It’s easy and takes less time. But, if you really should use an FTP client software to upload your plugin, then learn how to use FileZilla with WordPress.

Tips using WordPress plugins

Please make sure that you download your plugin from trusted sources. I recommend the only WordPress directory for free ones, it’s Codecanyon for premium plugins. They have thousands of WordPress developers, and they’re doing great jobs with security, and system protection.

Plugins are the thing that makes WordPress flexible, easy, and powerful blogging and CMS that millions of people use. So,  protect yourself and your site from plugins that can destroy it with hidden files.

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About Fathi Arfaoui

Fathi Arfaoui is a Physicist, Blogger and the founder of He shares Business, WordPress and Blogging tips to build a better blog and succeed online.

Disclosure: The recommendations on this page are my own based on my tests and analysis. We may earn a small commission from web hosts and other partners if you use my referral link to make a purchase. That’s what helps us to maintain the site and add fresh content, Thanks for your support.

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