Join Morten Rand-Hendriksen for an in-depth discussion in this video Installing, activating, and upgrading plugins, part of WordPress 4 Essential Training.
- [Voiceover] Management of plugins is done from the WordPress Admin Panel, and here we have some nice subtle updates to improve the user experience, commonly referred to as shiny updates, which were introduced with WordPress 4.6. Because plugins play such a vital role in WordPress itself, they have their own main menu item and subsection where you can view installed plugins and add new plugins. WordPress comes with two plugins out of the box, Akismet, which is a comment anti-spam tool, and Hello Dolly, which is, actually, just try it out and see for yourself.
It's bundled in for historical reasons and has no meaningful use, but it's kind of interesting. To extend the functionality of WordPress, you can install new plugins. This starts with going to the Add New function, either from the Plugins page on the button up here, or from the main menu under Plugins and Add New. From here, what you're looking at is the WordPress Plugin directory, exactly the same thing we saw in the previous movie, with the exact same information. The only difference this is displayed inside the WordPress Admin panel, and you can install plugins directly from this page into your own WordPress site.
To navigate between the different plugins, you can either look at Featured plugins, the Most Popular plugins, Recommended plugins, and you can also set up your own plugin Favorites by creating an account on WordPress.org and then marking the plugins you use the most as your favorite plugins. Each of the plugins is displayed with its own icon, the plugin title and description, the creator, and information like the ratings, how many active installs exist, when it was last updated, and whether or not it's tested with your current version of WordPress. If you want more information, you can also click More Details.
This opens the full page of information from the WordPress Plugin directory, and here you can see all the information about the plugin, go through Installation steps, and Screenshots, Changelog and whatever else information is available for this particular plugin. Once you're satisfied with your choice, you can either click Install Now from this dialogue, or click Install Now directly on the Plugins page. If you want to find a specific plugin with a specific feature, you can search by Keyword or by Author or by Tag. So let's say I want to install a contact form plugin.
In that case I'll search for contact form. This automatically refreshes the page and gives me a list of all the available plugins that have the keywords contact form. In this case I'm looking for a specific plugin called Contact Form 7, so I can try to scroll around here and see if you can find it, but as you can see, there are a ton of contact forms available, so I'll go and change my search a little bit to say Contact Form 7 specifically. Here we have Contact Form 7, and if I'm happy with my choice, I can now click Install Now.
And this is where shiny updates kicks in. In the past, what would happen is you would now get a separate page and you'd see the install process. But with shiny updates, the install happens right in front of your eyes. So if you noticed, it cycled through installing, and now the button changed from Install Now to Activate. So I can activate a plugin directly from here just by clicking Activate. Once a plugin is activated, I'm taken back to the Installed Plugins page, and now you can see we have three, Akismet, Contact Form 7, and Hello Dolly.
The difference between the three is Contact Form 7 is not active, that's why it's highlighted in blue and has this blue bar on the side. And for each of the plugins, I can now deactivate the plugin, go up to Settings for the plugin, also edit the plugin if I want to, and get more information. If i want to delete the plugin, I now first have to deactivate it, and then I can delete it directly, and if I wanted to reactive it, I simply click Activate. Once you have themes and plugins installed on your site, it's vitally important that you keep them up to date. If you have plugins or themes that are not up to date, WordPress will tell you.
You can see up here in the WordPress tool bar that I have this recycling icon with a one next to it that says 1 Plugin Update. If I go to Dashboard, you also see under Updates it says 1, meaning I have one thing that needs to be updated, and if I go to Installed Plugins, there's a message right here that says There's a new version of Akismet available, View version 3.1.11 details or update now. So if I want to update this plugin, all I need to do is either go here and click Update Now, that would update the plugin, or I can go to Dashboard, go to Updates, and update it directly from there, or follow the link in the WordPress tool bar that takes me directly here to run the update.
As you can see, the update process is incredibly simple. You just go into the page, click Update, everything happens behind the scenes, you don't have to do anything. But like I said, any time you see that update mark on your tool bar or in the dashboard, make sure you go in and update your themes and your plugins right away.
Note: This course covers an older version of WordPress, which features the Classic Editor. Watch this course only if you are using the Classic Editor plugin or using WordPress 4.9 or earlier. Otherwise, watch WordPress 5 Essential Training, which covers the new Block Editor experience.
- Creating posts and pages
- Formatting text
- Publishing and scheduling posts
- Adding images, audio, and video
- Bulk editing posts and pages
- Customizing themes and menus
- Using widgets
- Extending WordPress with plugins
- Editing users profiles
- Configuring settings
- Getting new readers
- Keeping WordPress up to date and secure