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How to Install/Uninstall WordPress Plugins

Currently, there are three ways to install a WordPress plugin: via the Add New tab underneath Plugins in the WordPress Dashboard, by uploading the file directly through the automatic plugin installer built into WordPress via the Dashboard, or by manually installing into the plugins folder inside of the WordPress Installation via FTP. In this article, we're going to cover the first and last method.

As always, before making any changes to your site, we do recommend that you perform a complete backup of your site before proceeding.

Install a WordPress Plugin Automatically through WordPress

  1. Go to your WordPress admin panel.
  2. Go to Plugins > Add New.
  3. Under Search, type in the name of the WordPress plugin, descriptive keyword, author, or tag in the search form, or click a tag link below the search form.
  4. Find the WordPress plugin you wish to install.
  5. Click More Details for more information about the plugin and instructions you may wish to print or save to help set up the plugin.
  6. Click Install Now to install the plugin. The button will show Installing... and then will say Activate once it is installed.
  7. Now you can click Activate to activate the plugin. Some plugins will return you to the Installed Plugins page or redirect you to a new tab to set up or begin using the new plugin.

Our team created this great webinar about WordPress Plugins and Widgets. We've queued up the portion about finding and installing plugins, but you can start it from the beginning to learn that and much more!


Note: Some WordPress plugins require further steps for customization. The More Details button should contain step-by-step instructions. After installation, this information is available on the plugins panel for each plugin.

Install a WordPress Plugin Manually via FTP

Manual installation of a WordPress plugin requires FTP familiarity and the awareness that you may put your site at risk if you install a WordPress plugin that is incompatible with the current version or from an unreliable source.
  1. Download your WordPress plugin to your desktop.
  2. If downloaded as a zip archive, extract the plugin folder to your desktop. This is very important as files must be extracted to be uploaded properly to the wp-content/plugins folder.
  3. Read through the Details readme file thoroughly to ensure you follow the installation instructions.
  4. With your FTP program, upload the plugin folder to the wp-content/plugins folder in your WordPress directory.
  5. Go to Plugins and find the newly uploaded plugin in the list.
  6. Click the Activate button to activate it.

As always, be sure to check the readme file for customization instructions and further information.

Uninstall a WordPress Plugin

To deactivate a plugin without permanently deleting it:

  1. Go to your WordPress admin panel.
  2. Go to Plugins.
  3. Find the plugin you wish to deactivate or uninstall.
  4. Click Deactivate underneath the name of the plugin.

The plugin will initiate the deactivation on its own.

Most WordPress plugins have an option to completely uninstall themselves, though not all of them have this option.

Remove a WordPress Plugin Permanently

Be aware that the installation and removal of plugins can alter your WordPress installation as they can modify the code in your theme or your overall WordPress installation.

To remove a WordPress plugin entirely:

Most plugins can be removed by following the steps below, but you may need to check the plugin's readme file's instructions to learn how to uninstall some plugins correctly. For instance, if the WordPress plugin installation required the addition of code to the WordPress theme, then you may have to edit the theme files to remove it manually.

  1. Deactivate the plugin and remove it manually through your FTP program.
    1. Log in 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.
Tips for Removing Plugins

The following tips can help you to minimize unwanted changes to your site while removing plugins:

  1. Upgrading WordPress may make changes to the code, which could conflict with your WordPress theme modifications. Use a child theme or manually check the plugin's code to ensure it is still active.
  2. If you change themes, your changes will not automatically carry over to the new theme. You will need to copy or add them manually to the new WordPress theme (even if you use a child theme since it is not associated with the new theme).
  3. Updates to the WordPress theme may remove the plugin modification code. Use a child theme or make notes to remind yourself to re-add the plugin code to the updated theme.