How to install a plugin on WordPress – a step-by-step guide for beginners

Installing plugins on WordPress using the admin panel is so easy that you’ll probably never need the skills to manually install plugins via FTP/SFT or using WP-CLI. But the technical part can be useful if the WordPress plugin directory is overloaded or not available at all.

Installing plugins on WordPress from a repository

The easiest method to install plugins for your WordPress site – go to the official repository (directory of plugins) directly on your WordPress site, the section is called “Plugins” in the drop-down list choose “Add new”.

Installing plugins – How to create a blog on WordPress

Choose the plugin we need from popular plugins or in the search bar type in the keyword we need, such as “WooCommerce”. WooCommerce is a free plugin that allows you to start trading online. If interested, read our guide on how to create a free online store.

Installing the WooCommerce plugin – How to create an online store

Click the “Install” button next to the plugin you want. After successful installation you need to “Activate” it by clicking on the appropriate button.

All, the plugin is successfully installed and ready to work?

Manual installation

The official WordPress directory – the most accessible place to download plugins, but not the only one. There are a lot of third-party sites online that offer a wide variety of paid plugins, such as CodeCanyon or Codester, and in this case you can’t do without manual installation.

The following steps describe how to manually install and then activate a WordPress plugin through the admin panel, using FTP/SFTP or WP-CLI. In this tutorial, we will be using the “Gutenberg Blocks” plugin.

Gutenberg Blocks – This is a powerful addition to the block editor in WordPress that greatly extends the standard functionality. If you’re not yet comfortable with the editor, we recommend reading our guide to using the block editor in WordPress.

1. Simple manual installation

The first thing you need to do is download the *.zip archive of the plugin itself. This you have to do on your own. If we’re talking about paid plugins, for example bought at, then all your purchases can be found in the “Downloads” section.

In brief, as a result of your purchase or, as in our case, download, you should have the installation file of the plugin saved as a *.zip archive.

Next, on your site, go to PluginsAdd New.

  • At the top, you will see a button “Download plugin” – click on it.
  • Select the ZIP archive with the plugin you downloaded.
  • Click “Install” and then click “Activate” when finished.


So, as you already know, all the plugins you downloaded are in *.zip format. Most operating systems (Windows, Mac, etc.) have built-in tools for opening *.zip files. After opening the *.zip file, extract the directory it contains and place it in a folder or on your computer’s desktop.

After successfully extracting the folder you need to upload it to your server in the directory You can do this using “File Manager” if your server has ISPManager or CPanel, as well as using separate software to connect to your server via FTP/SFTP protocols, such as FileZilla.

If you have trouble connecting to your server, contact your hosting provider and ask for help to connect to your server via FTP.

After successfully connecting, go to /wp-content/. Inside this directory are the plugins and themes folders, as well as several other files and folders. Go to the /plugins/ folder. Inside it are all the plugins.

Upload your plugins folder to /wp-content/plugins/ on your web server.

The plugin folder, called by the name of the plugin (for example, in our case it is “ultimate-addons-for-gutenberg”) contains all the files for this plugin.

If all went well, then going to the section “Plugins” on your site, you will see the plugin you just downloaded, and you only have to click on the “Activate” button.

3. Installing plugins on WordPress using WP-CLI (SSH)

WP-CLI offers a quick and powerful way to manage your WordPress plugins using the command line via SSH.

Disabling plugins from the command line is especially useful if the /wp-admin/ area is not accessible due to misconfiguration of something.

First, Connect to your server using SSH as a system user of your WordPress. Don’t use root with WP-CLI, as that can only do harm, and use the following command to install a plugin, where “PLUGINNAME” is the name of the plugin in the WordPress repository.

wp plugin install PLUGINNAME

In our case it is ultimate-addons-for-gutenberg

Spectra – WordPress Gutenberg Blocks plugin

When the command works and the plugin is installed, you will see the following message:

Installing Ultimate Addons for Gutenberg by Brainstorm Force (1.16.0)
Downloading install package from
Unpacking the package...
Installing the plugin...
Plugin installed successfully.
Success: Installed 1 of 1 plugins.

The plugin can also be activated during installation by changing the command as follows:

wp plugin install PLUGINNAME --activate

But if you forget to do this, just type the following command

wp plugin activate PLUGINNAME

If successful, the system will display a notification:

Plugin 'Ultimate Addons for Gutenberg' activated.
Success: Activated 1 of 1 plugins.

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