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How to Install WordPress Plugins Manually in 2023 [A Genuine Step-by-step guide]

  • By Nauman Hawlader Russell
  • 05 Jul, 2024
  • Guide
  • 15 Min Read
Last Update: 05 Jul, 2024

Do you know what makes WordPress so popular amongst users? You do not require any prior technical skills, in fact; you can use it rather easily.

— Right after you install WordPress, one of the important tasks for you will be to install a WordPress plugin. This is one of the basic skills needed for every WordPress user.

Plugins can be vital for the functionality and form of any given WordPress website. You’ll find plugins in a variety of sizes and shapes, this is quite handy in meeting a wide range of requirements. Plugins may be useful for the following reason:

  • For enhancing functionalities.
  • Incorporating elements into your front-end site.

So before going describe how to install WordPress plugins manually, let’s start from the beginning:

What is a WordPress Plugin?

In its basic state, you’ll see that WordPress is undoubtedly an excellent platform. However, you’ll notice that it is quite limited. Therefore, if you want to enhance this framework, you’ll need to incorporate pieces of software as substitutes, we call this — plugin.

In order words, you can consider a plugin as a tool that is installed within a WordPress website to provide enhanced functionality.

Plugins can satisfy your wide spectrum of requirements, this includes:

  • It can enhance your website’s front end appearance. If you don’t use plugins, then you can’t use elements such as testimonials, contact forms, sliders.
  • Also, if you add different plugins, in that case, it will help you change the website’s functionality and form. This will assist you with search health, performance, security and so on.

How to install WordPress plugins manually?

Manual installation of WordPress plugin can help you a great deal, when:

The WordPress directory remains unavailable or remains down at any moment.

You will also find many WordPress plugins that are not listed within the directory. This is when you will need to install the plugin, manually.

The easiest way of  manual WordPress installation:

While contemplating how to install plugins, you may take the path of installing them manually. You can effortlessly install a plugin for WordPress using:

How to Install the WordPress plugin from Zip?

User: Beginner:

1. First thing you need to do is to download the plugin file from the plugin page or manually from a source. This creates a Zip file and is saved to your device.

How to Install WordPress Plugins Manually

2. For the next step, you will need to log in to the WordPress admin site and proceed to the plugins section.

3. The next thing that you need to do is click on the ‘Add new’ button right beneath the plugin section of the WordPress dashboard.

4. Then you will need to upload a plugin zip file. WordPress will do its job of unpacking all the files that are necessary.

5. After this is done, you’ll need to click on the ‘Install Now’ button for the plugin installation process.

Install zip file plugin

6. Once done, you will need to activate the plugin.

Activate Plugins

How to Install WordPress plugin using FTP?

User: Intermediate:

1. You need to go to the plugin page and proceed with downloading the plugin file from the WordPress Plugin repository site. For the sake of demonstration, we have used the Gutenberg plugin, as an example.

Download Plugins

2. This step will need you to unzip the plugin.

3. Next step for you will be log in to your designated FTP server.

4. To connect to an FTP server, you will need an FTP host along with the appropriate credentials (i.e. username and password).

  • Host
  • Username
  • Password

5. Once logged in, you will need to add the plugin folder to the folder that is named as wp-content/plugins, within your WordPress directory, by unzipping the plugin. As you can see, we used the Glutenberg plugin here. The above-mentioned steps have been illustrated, below, for your convenience


Lastly, you will need to go to the installed plugins on the plugins directory for activating it. Based on the FTP service, you can choose the default settings.

Activate Plugins

How to Install WordPress plugin using WP-CLI?

User: Advanced:

1. Go to YOAST SEO

2. You need to launch the WP-CLI

3. Next up, in the command line, enter – wp plugin install WordPress

*For plugin installation:

WP plugin installs plugin-name; here the name of the plugin is basically the slug.

wpcli plugin install

4. For activation, you need to run the following command wp plugin activate WordPress-SEO

*For plugin activation:

WP plugin activates plugin-name; here the name of the plugin is basically the slug.

wpcli plugin activate

How do I install WP-CLI?

WP-CLI is a very useful and robust tool that will help you to use the command line over the SSH for managing your WordPress plugin installation. The best part is, that you won’t need to use your web browser every single time. This can be quite handy if you aren’t able to get access to the wp-admin area on your WordPress site.

To know more, have a look at the overview of  WP-CLI installation:

Free vs. Premium WordPress plugins

Free Plugins

For free WordPress plugins, you can download certain plugins directly from the WordPress repository.

  1. Lookup for the plugins on the repository
  2. Download the plugin
  3. Install it on your WordPress website.

Premium Plugins

With premium plugins, you’ll need to purchase them. Various premium plugins are available at varying prices. Not all of these premium plugins will be available for you to download directly from the repository. For some of these plugins, you need to purchase these directly from agency based websites or plugin developers.

The table below provides a comparison between free and premium plugins:

Free PluginPremium Plugin
1. Listed in the WordPress plugins repository1. It needs to be bought from developers
2. Anyone can maintain & write free plugins2. Offers more reliability, the update can bring required changes
3. Free ones offer basic support and quality3. Costs between $19 to $145 (keep in mind this figure may vary)

Want you to know what’s vital for WordPress plugin installation?

What are Active and Installed plugins?

For WordPress, you can install a certain plugin and not use it if not needed. If you plan on using a plugin on your website, in that case, you need to activate it.

You can identify the active plugins by the blue highlighted background within the ‘Plugins’ page. Plugins that you see have a white background are not active.

Active Installed Plugins

Why can’t I install plugins on WordPress?

Reasons you cannot install plugins on WordPress are:

You are using the service – The most common scenario is if you use a limited version of the renowned WordPress software. For you to install plugins, you need to upgrade to the business plan, requiring you to pay around $300/ year.

You have a memory limiting issue It means you can access and see plugins, but cannot install them. This failure is because of the PHP memory limit. When a certain process reaches its limit, you’ll either receive an error or the entire process ends.

Allowed memory size of 33554432 bytes exhausted (tried to allocate 43148176 bytes) in php

You can bring a quick fix to this issue by increasing the PHP memory limit. All you need to do is, add the following to your file named wp-config.php

define( 'WP_MEMORY_LIMIT', '96M' );

Restrictions for user roles WordPress has an integrated user role management system. You may not have administrator access, rather may have an editor account. If you do not have administrator access, then you can neither activate nor install a plugin within a WordPress site.

Collapse Menu in WordPress Dashboard

You are within a multi-site network – Your site may belong to a multi-site network. If the admin of this network disables the plugin menu, then you won’t be able to see it. The admin usually does this to maintain WordPress security and for load balancing.

Uploading wrong file format: For this, you’ll come across an installation error while manually uploading a plugin using the ‘Add New’ upload option within the WordPress site.

If you notice the “bad format” message, as shown below, then, this means, you did not upload the necessary native files that you got from the plugin developer.

The error message that you would get is supposed to be as follows:

Installing Plugin from uploaded file

Important Note:

“You should keep in mind that the only plugin which you should upload to your WordPress site is the zipped files. Make sure to cross check with the developer to know for sure if you’ve got the correct folder.”

There are missing files within the zipped file

– Let’s consider that you’re trying to upload a zipped file on WordPress. However, you get the error message, shown below.

Therefore, the above message means, the files that exist within the given folder aren’t exactly what WordPress requires.

Therefore, what you need to do is, unzip the folder under question and proceed with reviewing its contents. Also, make sure that this is the correct zip folder.

In case of any missing files, we recommend you to contact your developers for help.

There are possibly syntax errors This is something that you shouldn’t be worried about if you buy a certain WordPress plugin from a reputed source.

— Although, you may come across either a “parse error” or “syntax error” message if you buy a plugin from an unreliable source with the hope of saving a few bucks. This error pops up while editing an already installed plugin.

On the other hand, if the error occurs during the installation process, in that case, this error lies within the developer.

File size exceeded You may also come to notice that the file size that is allowable has exceeded. When an error like this occurs, you will see a message as given below.

The uploaded file exceeds the upload_max_filesize directive in php.ini

Fixing the maximum upload limit

  1. Go to the control panel
  2. Access your directory via file manager or FTP
  3. Search and locate the folder named wp-admin
  4. Now, if you do not see a file called php.ini, then you need to create one
  5. Next up, once you’ve opened the php.ini file, you need to lookup for the “filesize” section.
  6. You will be required to overwrite the file with the code, given below.

    upload_max_filesize = 1000M
    post_max_size = 2000M
    memory_limit = 3000M
    file_uploads = On
    max_execution_time = 180

  7. Making this change will provide you leeway on the size of your WordPress plugin.
Word of caution
If you use any third-party plugins, then, it is vital for you to check for their authenticity. You need to make sure that this does not put your site into any jeopardy.
**You need to proceed at your own risk, any other parties won’t be liable in case anything out of the ordinary happens.**

Add new’ button missing on WordPress plugin page. Why?

Some steps you can follow if the ‘add new’ button is missing are as given below:

Use another browser You need to ensure that this is not a browser-related error. For this, open your website in another browser.

  1. If you see that upon opening your site the issue gets resolved, then you’ll know for sure that this was a browser-specific error.
  2. However, if you still see the error, then the error wasn’t because of the browser you were using.

Manually updating it

For this, you will need to download and unzip WordPress again. Then, you’ll need to proceed with accessing your server through the FTP or any other file manager from the control panel of your hosting account.

The next step will require you to delete and replace copies of all the documents within the server, except for the file wp-config.php as well as the /wp-content/ directory. This will replace all of your core files with no damage to either the settings or contents.

4. Can Inactive Plugins slow down my WordPress site?

WordPress plugins that are inactive are executable files. But, you should not worry because these files are harmless.

— Although, if anyone attempts to hack your site, these files may get infected. Hence, to ensure optimal protection for your website, delete any inactive plugins which aren’t used.

Ending Thoughts:


If you do not use one on your WordPress website, it will look gloomy and out of sorts. This tool can pack some serious punch! We recommend you to do some research and get used to these small yet powerful packages to get the one that suits you best.

— Lastly, we recommend you to NOT overpopulate your WordPress website with too many plugins. Rather, be picky and use them wisely.

Russell Hawlader

Hi! This is Russell Hawlader, Since a very easy stage of my life, I grow a deep fondness for technology. Technology has led me to become passionate about themes and plugins. I spend most of my leisure researching the trending technologies and traveling. My blogs are the medium of sharing and spreading my knowledge to the whole world.