How to Find and Install Free WordPress Plugins

By Lisa Sabin-Wilson

These instructions walk you through the simple steps of searching for, downloading, installing, and activating free plugins in your WordPress Dashboard. The Dashboard makes these processes relatively easy in WordPress.

How to find free plugins

Choose Plugins→Add New to open the Install Plugins page. You have a number of selections, including the search box. Typing a term in this box and clicking the Search Plugins button searches WordPress for plugins that match the term.

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Type All in One SEO in the search box and then click the Search Plugins button. The Search Results tab appears.

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At the top of the Install Plugins page, you find links for the following tabs:

  • Search: On this tab, you can search for plugins within the repository. This view is the default.

  • Search Results: This tab appears after you have searched for a plugin using the search form. The tab displays the search results for your chosen keyword.

  • Upload: This tab provides you with a means to upload a plugin directly into WordPress.

  • Featured: This tab displays a selection of plugins featured by WordPress as helpful plugins you may want to try.

  • Popular: This tab shows the most popular plugins based on criteria selected by WordPress.

  • Newest: This tab shows the most recently added plugins within the repository.

  • Favorites: This tab shows the plugins you’ve favorited in the WordPress.org Plugins Directory.

Each of these tabs provides you with easy access to plugins that you may want to try without searching for them. Explore each of these tabs at your leisure; you may find some useful plugins this way.

At the bottom of the Install Plugins page is a selection of keywords. When you click a keyword, WordPress displays all plugins tagged with that keyword. For example, clicking gallery shows all plugins tagged with that keyword, such as NextGen Gallery, a popular plugin. Use keywords to find popular plugins among WordPress users without searching by term or plugin name.

How to install and activate a plugin

After you find a plugin you like on the Dashboard, follow these steps to install it:

  1. On the Install Plugins page, click the Details link below the title of the plugin you want to install.

    Click the Details link for the All in One SEO Pack plugin. The More Information dialog box, which provides a description of the plugin, appears with a number of tabs at the top.

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    The message This plugin has not been tested with your current version of WordPress is sometimes the case if the plugin author hasn’t updated the plugin for the latest version of WordPress. You can choose to install it and give it a try (and then uninstall it if that it doesn’t work) — or try to contact the plugin author for information on whether the plugin works with the latest version.

  2. Click the Installation tab at the top of the dialog box to view the installation instructions.

    Read the installation instructions before you proceed. Each plugin’s installation and activation differ from the others.

  3. Click the Description tab and then click the Install Now button to install the plugin.

    The dialog box closes, and the Installing Plugin page appears, with a message stating whether your plugin was installed successfully.

  4. Click the Activate Plugin link to activate the plugin on your website.

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    If you see anything other than a message indicating success, follow the support instructions in the Plugin Information dialog box on the Description tab, including, possibly, the FAQ tab or Support link. Always note any error messages you see.

  5. Choose Plugins→Plugins on the Dashboard to verify that the plugin installed successfully.

    The plugin appears in the list on the Plugins page.

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