How to Install WordPress Plugins

Plugins change the default behavior of the WordPress software that you can download from WordPress.org.

Plugins reside in the plugins directory inside the wp-content directory of your WordPress installation.

To install a new plugin for WordPress all you have to do is FTP the plugin’s folder to the plugins directory.

Download and unpack the plugin from the WordPress Plugin Directory, then upload to your site. Pay attention to the Installation tab on the plugin’s page in the WP directory. Some plugins need a few extra steps to be completed, but most follow the standard installation.

WordPress Plugin Installation Steps
WordPress Plugin Installation Steps

You may be directed to the plugin’s homepage for further instructions on how to install that particular plugin.

Also, you’ll need to activate the plugin before it will function. Go to the plugins tab from the WP Dashboard, find your new plugin in the list of inactive plugins, and click on Activate.

You’re all set! Your new plugin may have a management page, so check the Manage Tab of the WP Dashboard for a new link for managing your new plugin.

Caution: Plugins Don't Work with All WordPress Versions

Not all plugins are created equal. The most widely used plugins will work with the most versions of WordPress and especially with the most recent version of WP.

When you pick up a new plugin from WordPress, check the FYI box at the top right of the plugin page.

WordPress Plugin FYI Box
WordPress Plugin FYI Box

Note the version of WordPress that is required for your plugin to work properly, if at all. Also, it may be important to note the highest version of WP that is compatible with the plugin.

The Plugin FYI Box also gives links to the author’s homepage and the plugin’s homepage so that you can find out a lot more about the plugin.

Review of Popular WordPress Plugins: Akismet

The only true plugin that comes standard with WordPress software is Akismet. And for good reason. The developers of WordPress wanted to keep the basic blogging platform as lean as possible while allowing for extension of that software into as many directions as possible.

Plugins are bits of software that modify the out-of-the-box functionality of the basic WordPress blog.

What does Akismet do? The Akismet plugin catches comment and trackback spam.

We all need a way to deal with spam left in comments or we’d spend waaaay too much time reading and deleting the hundreds and thousands of machine-generated comments.

Akismet proudly keeps track of the number of spam comments it has arrested from your blog. One of mine has been saved from over 32,000 spammy comments, so far!

One of the great things about Akismet is that once you set it, you can forget it. At first I checked to see what comments were being caught as spam, but I got over it real fast. Once in a while a spam comment slips through, but not very often. Just mark it as spam and poof! – it’s a goner.

In order to run the Akismet plugin you will need to get a WordPress.com API key. All you have to do is sign up for a WordPress account. Part of that process is to check your email for details.

After you have your key – it’s listed on your profile page – enter it on the Akismet Configuration page that you can reach via the plugins tab of your WordPress Dashboard.

Stay tuned for more WordPress Plugin reviews.

WordPress Plugins Winning Popularity Contest

When it comes to people I’m not one for popularity contests. I couldn’t care less who is more popular or who’s the brightest star in Hollywood or Bollywood. Right now, USA has the every-four-years-popularity-contest in running for President and a host of smaller public office positions. Good luck, Mr. Obama! Not that you really need it now.

Start talking about popular features of any practical device and it interests me a little more. Popular with respect to people means glitz and glamour, but popular with respect to machines means useful and practical. I’m more of a granola girl, so the practical stuff is waaaay more interesting than the glitzy fluff.

WordPress has already claimed the winning votes to become the best blogging platform anywhere. But what about all those different ways that we can extend the basic blogging software?

What are the most popular, er..useful, plugins for WordPress blogs?

Looking at the WordPress Plugin Directory, the top 6 plugins listed as the most popular include:

  • Akismet
  • All in One SEO Pack
  • WP Super Cache
  • cforms II – contact form
  • NextGEN Gallery
  • Google XML Sitemaps

These popular plugins are all rated 4/5 stars or better by the people that use them and each has been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times. Sounds good to me!

I’ll be reviewing a number of WP plugins in the upcoming weeks, so stay tuned!