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Another one my favorite parts of WordPress is the ability to extend the experience for both you and your users using something called plug-ins. And in WordPress Multisite, that's no different. You still need plug-ins to extend the user experience and your personal experience as well. This helps you add on some really cool stuff to the WordPress installation. It's a little bit different for WordPress Multisite, but if you understand the basic concepts of uploading and installing plug-ins in a regular WordPress environment, you should have no trouble with this one. So in this movie, we will be taking a look at how to enable plug-ins across your entire network using WordPress Multisite.
The first thing I am going to do is go to the Plugins section of my Dashboard and, by the way, I'm logged in as the network admin and this is the Admin Dashboard. I am going to choose Add New plug-in. From the Add New screen, I can upload a plug-in, view a list Featured, Popular, Newest, and Recently Updated plug-ins as well. I am just going to choose from the Popular tags here at the bottom and select Facebook. Once I select the Facebook tag, it brings up a list of all the available plug-ins that are tagged with the Facebook tag. In this case I am going to choose Simply Sociable.
It's the top link right here. This plug-in automatically appends social media links to the bottom of each one of your blog posts, stuff like Google+, Twitter, Facebook, et cetera. If I install that plug-in, it comes up and asks me for confirmation. I hit OK and the plug-in is active. If I choose Network Activate, that plug- in is now live across all of my sites. If I were to visit one of my sites, I go out to My Sites and let's do the tutorial site. I will visit that site.
Once I click on the first post, you will notice at the bottom I have links to Google+, Twitter, and Facebook. All of those were added automatically by installing that plug-in across my network. If I go back and visit another site like the magazine site, the same should hold true. Let's go here and view the Hello world! post, and there at the bottom: Google+, Twitter, Facebook-- The same links that were available to me when I viewed the previous site. Now, this theme actually has individual social media links at the bottom of each page as well.
And that's fine. It's just another layer of social interaction. No big deal. I will go ahead and close this up and go back into my Network Admin panel. Now, you'll notice I have a couple of plug-ins that aren't activated across the network, and that's Akismet and Hello Dolly. Hello Dolly is just a proof of concept really. You can actually get rid of that plug-in without doing any damage to your site. Akismet is actually a great plug-in for fighting spam in your blog. If you wanted to, you can network activate that, but I am going to do that right now. I'm going to show you how to activate it on one single site.
So let's go up to My Sites. Let's go to the tutorial site, and choose Dashboard. Now since I'm logged in as the network admin I'm able to access the plug-ins section here on the left. However, that's turned off by default. So what you will need to do is go back to the Network Admin Dashboard and visit your Site Configurations and enable the Plugins menu for other users. Once I click Plugins, you will notice I have a list of the plug-ins that are installed, but not activated across the network. If I want to enable Akismet for this one particular site, I simply hit Activate.
Once I hit Activate, it tells me at the top that the plug-in has been activated. Akismet also requires that you enter an Akismet API key which you can get by clicking the blue link right here. Once you click that, you go through the process and get your API key and then you are automatically off and running with Akismet. And this is a great plug-in, like I said, for fighting spam that comes into your blog. Before I started using Akismet, I used to get spam comments and malware interjected into my site all the time. Now I hardly get any spam comments whatsoever. It's fantastic; it's one of the best plug-ins I have ever used.
I highly recommend it. Now let's go back to My Sites, choose Network Admin, and Dashboard. Once I am back in the Dashboard, I can go back to the plug-ins section and look at the installed plug-ins. Now as I said, Akismet is a very good plug-in and it needs to be activated network-wide. It doesn't matter that I've only activated it on that one site already. I can go back any time I want and network activate it. As for Hello Dolly, if I don't want anybody to see that plug-in, which I kind of don't, I can hit Delete. It also warns me that this plug-in may be active on other sites in the network.
There is no way to tell from the screen, unfortunately, whether or not it is running on another site. So if one of your admins had activated this plug-in, you might not know it from here. It's always good practice to check or at least visit the sites before you ever delete a plug-in network-wide. But in this case, I know I am not using this plug-in anywhere, so I am safe. I'll click Yes, delete the files. Once I do that, Hello Dolly will not show up on any of my site dashboards, nor will it show up here in my Network Admin Dashboard. Now let's say that I get tired of the Simply Sociable plug-in and I don't want that on any of my sites anymore, or maybe I want to deactivate it across the network and only activate it on certain sites.
Let's go ahead and Network Deactivate it now, and that way it's not available to new sites. Any site that had activated it on their own still has it activated on their site. However, those social links will not show up on any site that didn't have it already activated. Let's go back to My Sites. Let's go back to the PhotoBlog Tutorials page and choose Visit Site. If I visit the site and click on the first link, you notice the social links are gone. But what if I want to add them back for that one particular site? Let's go back, My Sites > Tutorials > Dashboard > Plugins > Activate Simply Social.
Now once I've done that, I will refresh the page. There's my Simply Social links. But if I go back to the magazine site, remember it already had social media links at the bottom. So I will visit that site, click the first post. The social media links that are in the theme by default are still there, but the extra ones have been removed, creating a much more consistent look. Close this up a return back to my Dashboard. Hopefully, by now you have a better understanding of exactly how to install and activate plug-ins across your network and how to manage the various plug-ins that you have inside of your WordPress Multisite installation.
Take some time and explore the plug-ins directory. You'll find some hidden gems in there for sure and those are great ways to extend the WordPress experience for you and your users.
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