How to Use WordPress Plugins

WordPress is a powerful web publishing system, but it can’t do everything (yet). Fortunately, WordPress was designed to be extended by plugins — modular programs that add functionality to your site. Once you learn how to use WordPress plugins, you can do just about anything with your website.

There are a huge number of plugins available that add new features to WordPress.

There are plugins to block spam, publish podcasts, and speed up your WordPress site. If you have some specific need that isn’t accommodated by WordPress out of the box, chances are there’s a plugin to meet your needs.

This video shows you how to find, install, and use WordPress Plugins.


15 thoughts on “How to Use WordPress Plugins”

  1. Hi Kirk – Your podcast on WordPress Plugins is useful and well done. I’m new to WP and am having trouble on this issue.

    I had installed WP 2.3.2 then have transferred (FileZilla)
    Google Sitemaps
    Optimal Title
    Simple tags

    To contents > plugins > X – They show on my host server as OK, I’ve made sure of the file permissions, 755 for directories, 644 for files – yet…
    They do not appear in the wp-plugins administrator, to be activated, so I guess i’m missing something, very simple probably – what? Thank you for your time, this question must be an old one but new to me!

  2. Hi Peter – Let’s see if we can trouble shoot this. A few quick questions:

    – when you say you transfered the files to contents > plugins > x, I assume you mean that you transfered them to /wp-content/plugins/ ?

    – Can you see them on the plugins page? I’m not clear from your comment whether they are there and not active, or they aren’t visible on the plugins page at all.

    – If they are visible, I’m assuming you’ve activated them. If they aren’t visible, then your problem is most likely that they are either in the wrong directory, or the permissions are still not quite right.

  3. Hello, Kirk
    In respect to your answer above. What happens if i update the wordpress but the author of the plug in does not provide the updates for the plug in i use. Can I have a problem???
    Thank you,

  4. And another question. I cannot read codes. Is there a plug in for Twenty11 theme that can change the colour and the font of the navigation bar? It seems everybody does it by code. I noticed lots of plug ins which allow you to change side bars via widgets but what about the main navigation?
    Thank you once again,

  5. JQUERY DROPDOWN MENU promises to do the horizontal menu but when i installed it it does widgets so it appears on the side. I am lost (((

  6. Hi Alina,

    > What happens if i update the wordpress but the author of the plug in does not provide
    > the updates for the plug in i use. Can I have a problem???

    Most of the time you can upgrade WordPress without breaking your plugins. However, there are no guarantees. If a plugin does break you’ll need to get an updated version. If the plugin author doesn’t update the plugin you might have to look for a replacement.

    When evaluating plugins it helps to look at the update history and most recent update date. Given the choice between two plugins that do the same thing, go with the one that looks like it has the most recent development.

    > Is there a plug in for Twenty11 theme that can change the colour and the font of the navigation bar?

    Unfortunately the best way to do that is by editing the CSS style sheet.

    If have the inclination to change the colors on your site and you aren’t comfortable editing CSS I would suggest that you look for another theme that gives you more control over design elements via through the WordPress admin area.


    I haven’t used that plugin so I can’t really provide much advice. Except to say that I would strongly recommend against using a Javascript plugin (or any plugin) to replace the standard menus that create and manage in WordPress. Most themes support those standard WordPress menus. You just need to find one that gives you the ability to change colors without editing the CSS.

  7. Hi Kirk,

    Here comes the MOST ridiculous question ever…and being that I am NOT unexperienced, I can’t believe I need to ask this, but….

    How the HECK does one create a user name on in order to access the favorites ability mentioned in this video? I see where I go to log in but I am NOT seeing a place to initially set up the user name and password combo. This is crazy!


  8. Hi Marc,
    They recently redesigned .org and it’s a bit tricky to find now. Basically you have to be in one of the areas that has a login bar (Forums, Themes, Plugins). In the grey bar just below the banner there’s a login bar, just to the right of that there should be a “register” link (it’s a button on the Forum pages).


  9. Hi Daniel,

    Yes, you can deactivate without uninstalling, but I highly recommend that you delete any plugins you aren’t using. Like anything else on your web server, plugins can be vulnerable to hacking attempts — even when they’re installed, but not active.

  10. Kirk, I’m enjoying your course very much. With your lessons, I’m about to launch my first WP website. But I have a doubt (might be a silly one, though): after your plugins lesson, I noticed that that there is no “Plugins” option in my Dashboard menu! How can I have that to show up so I can search and install WP plugins?

  11. Eduardo,
    Are you using If so, won’t be able to use plugins. Plugins are available only for users.

  12. What’s with the “Hello Dolly” plugin? It seems to install automatically. Will deleting it cause a problem?


  13. You can delete the Hello Dolly plugin without worry. It’s a bit of WordPress history that the core development team is reluctant to part with.

    Hello Dolly was the first WordPress plugin. It was intended to be a simple example of how to write a plugin. Many programming tutorials use Hello World as an example of how to write a simple program. WordPress creator Matt Mullenweg is a huge jazz fan and Hello Dolly was a bit of a tribute to Louis Armstrong.

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