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      How to Find and Install WordPress Plugins (Tutorial)

      Anyone can create a simple. successful website using WordPress’ default functionality. However, what if the vision you have for your site goes beyond a simple blog or a small portfolio? You’ll probably need a few tools to add the features required and bring your dream website to life.

      This is where WordPress plugins come into the picture. These add-ons enable you to expand your site’s functionality and make it do just about anything you’d like. You can find plugins that help you build and optimize your site, maintain it over time, and add new features such as contact forms and storefronts.

      An Introduction to WordPress Plugins

      WordPress Jetpack plugin

      If you’ve never heard of plugins before, fear not! They’re typically simple to understand and, most importantly, use.

      In short, a plugin is an add-on for your WordPress site — a piece of software you can install that adds new features and functionality.

      No matter what you’d like your website to be capable of, there’s probably a plugin out there that can help. You can find plugins to speed up your site, optimize its security, and help it rank higher in search engines. Other options enable you to add specific features to your site, such as a contact form, storefront, or forum. Some even help with basic maintenance tasks, like cleaning up broken links.

      Of course, it’s worth mentioning that a quality hosting plan eliminates the need for certain plugins. For example, check out our managed WordPress hosting service — we take care of optimizing your site’s speed and performance for you so there’s no need to find plugins for those kinds of tasks.

      To learn more about how DreamPress can make running your website easier, check out our documentation.

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      Finding Plugins for Your WordPress Site

      Even with a solid hosting plan, you may still want to add some plugins to your site. So, how do you go about finding them? There are a number of places to look, and where you’ll start depends on what you’re searching for.

      If you’re interested in starting with some free plugins, your first stop should be the official WordPress Plugin Directory:

      browse the WordPress plugin directory

      Each plugin listed there has been through a vetting process and won’t cost you a cent. You can find a lot of high-quality tools, and see how other users have rated them.

      However, sometimes you’ll want more options or features than a free plugin can provide. In that case, you can look for premium plugins, which will cost you a (varying) fee but are often more comprehensive.

      When choosing plugins, it’s important to be careful — a poorly-coded plugin can harm or even break your site. Be sure to check out user reviews and ratings, and take a look at how recently each option has been updated. If you’re still not sure where to start, check out our list of 20 popular and high-quality plugins every WordPress user should know about.

      How to Install WordPress Plugins (3 Easy Methods)

      Once you have a plugin picked out, you’ll need to install and activate it on your site. There are three main ways to do this, and we’ll address each one in turn. Before you try any of them, however, we recommend that you first back up your site. That way, if something goes wrong or the new plugin causes problems, you can reverse the damage quickly.

      1. Install a Plugin From the Official Directory

      If you’ve chosen a plugin from the official WordPress directory, you’re in luck. Installing free plugins from this source couldn’t be easier — and you can do so without leaving your dashboard.

      To get started, log into your website and navigate to the Plugins tab:

      the WordPress plugins page

      Here, you can see all the plugins you currently have installed (if any). Click on Add New, and you’ll be taken to a searchable version of the directory. Simply type in the name of the plugin you want. If you haven’t chosen one yet, you can use the various search options to explore everything that’s available.

      When you find the right plugin, select the Install Now button:

      WP Super Cache WordPress plugin

      WordPress will spend a few moments performing the installation, and then you’ll see a blue Activate button appear. Click on that, and the plugin will be ready to use! Depending on the plugin you’ve chosen, you may be prompted to configure a few settings or run through a setup wizard.

      2. Upload a Plugin Through the Dashboard

      If you’ve purchased a premium plugin or downloaded one from an offsite location, you’ll need to use a slightly different method than the above.

      All you’ll need is the zipped folder containing the plugin’s files saved to your computer. This should have been provided to you when you bought the plugin. If you aren’t sure where to find it, contact the plugin’s developer for help.

      Once you have the plugin in hand, log into your site and head to the Plugins tab. As before, click on Add New. This time, however, you’ll want to select Upload Plugin on the next page:

      upload a WordPress plugin

      Click on the Choose File button, find the zipped plugin folder on your computer and select it (you don’t need to extract the files), then click on Install Now. Give WordPress a few moments to work its magic, and you should see a success message:

      activate a recently uploaded WordPress plugin

      Hit the Activate Plugin button, and you’re all set! The plugin should now appear on your list in the Plugins tab.

      3. Use FTP to Install the Plugin Directly

      If you have a plugin’s zipped folder saved on your computer, you can also install it using File Transfer Protocol (FTP). FTP enables you to access your site’s files and databases directly so that you can make changes to them by hand.

      For those who are comfortable working with FTP, this can be a quicker way to install plugins. However, even if you’ve never used FTP before, you may want to consider this method. It’s a perfect way to start learning how to work with your website’s files. It’s also a useful alternative if you run into any errors when trying to install a plugin through the dashboard.

      The first thing you’ll want to do is download an FTP tool. We recommend FileZilla, which is free and easy to use. Then you’ll need to set it up and connect to your web host. This is a good time to make a backup of your site if you haven’t already. FTP enables you to make permanent changes to your website, so it’s important to be careful and have a readily-available way to reverse any mistakes.

      Once you have FileZilla open and connected, it should look something like this:

      browsing WordPress plugins folder in an FTP client

      In the top right quadrant, you’ll see your website’s home directory (it will typically be named after the site’s domain). Within this folder, navigate to wp-content > plugins:

      WordPress plugins folder in an FTP client

      This is where you’ll need to place the files for your new plugin. Unzip them first, then copy and paste them into the plugins folder. Alternatively, you can find the files on your computer using the two left-hand quadrants of FileZilla, and drag them over (again, after they’ve been unzipped).

      That’s all you need to do to install your new plugin. However, you will still need to visit your site in order to activate it. Navigate to the Plugins tab from your dashboard, and find the plugin you just installed in the list. Once you click on Activate, you’re all done!

       Easily Install Any WordPress Plugin

      Plugins are fantastic resources that enable you to build your site into anything you want it to be. No matter what feature or functionality you’re looking for, chances are there’s a plugin that can make it happen. Even better, installing plugins on your WordPress site couldn’t be easier.

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      How to Create a WordPress Child Theme (Tutorial)

      In this article, we’re going to talk more about what WordPress child themes are and why you should use them. Then we’ll talk about some situations where it makes sense to create a child theme and teach you how to do it.

      One of the best things about using WordPress is its near-endless customization options. However, there are some protocols you should follow before you dive under the hood. Otherwise, your customizations may not work as intended.

      That’s where child themes come to the rescue. They’re a WordPress feature enabling you to customize your themes safely and keep all your tweaks organized. Once you learn how to use them, your life should get a lot easier, particularly if you spend a lot of time playing with your theme’s style and behavior.

      What is a WordPress Child Theme?

      A WordPress child theme works just the same as a regular one on the surface. Once activated, it’ll work just as any of your other themes would. The difference is, child themes have a ‘parent’ from which they inherit all their attributes.

      For example, imagine you’re using the Twenty Twenty-Two theme on your blog. You can create a child for it at any point, which would look and work just the same. However, you can customize every aspect of how a child theme works without affecting its parent. Here’s how that can work in your favor:

      • You can update your themes safely. When you update a theme, you also lose any changes you’ve made to its code in the process. However, if you’re using a child theme and you update its parent, you bypass this issue.
      • It’s easier to keep track of the changes you make to a theme. Many WordPress themes include dozens of files and hundreds of lines of code. That means any change to them — no matter how small — can be tricky because it’s easy to lose track of those tweaks. With a child theme, you can make changes to your heart’s content and still keep things tidy.

      Let’s summarize what we’ve learned thus far using an example.

      If you create a child theme for Twenty Twenty-Two, WordPress will recognize it as a different item. However, the child theme will inherit all of its parent’s styles and features. WordPress then loads any changes that override its default configuration. If so, it’ll render those instead of the default Twenty Twenty-Two theme files.

      It sounds tricky, but it’s simple once you learn how to create one and see it in action.

      When It Makes Sense to Use a WordPress Child Theme

      If you plan on making changes to your theme, you should create a child for it. However, if you’re completely satisfied with the way your theme works and looks, you can use it as is.

      Pro tip: You can also decide to use WordPress’ custom/additional CSS capability if only CSS changes are required. This is much simpler than creating a child theme and can be done directly from the Customizer.

      If you’re still on the fence about whether it’s a good idea to use a child theme or not, here are a few examples of situations where doing so makes sense:

      • If you’re going to make any changes — permanent or temporary — to your active theme’s functionality or style.
      • When using a theme that receives constant updates (which is a good thing!) and you don’t want to lose your customizations during the process.
      • To test changes you may want to implement on your active theme using a safe environment.

      Any of these scenarios are good reasons to use child themes day-to-day. However, if you’re going to create one mainly for test purposes, you may also want to look into setting up a staging website.

      How to Create a WordPress Child Theme (in 5 Steps)

      If this is your first time setting up a WordPress child theme, you should definitely back up your website. Don’t be scared — the process is very straightforward, but it always pays to err on the side of caution.

      Also, before we jump in, you should already know which theme you want to use as the parent in this scenario. If you’re just doing this for testing purposes, feel free to pick one of WordPress’ default themes for now.

      1. Create a Folder for Your Child Theme

      The first step is, of course, the simplest. Each theme you install on your website has its own folder within a dedicated themes directory on your server. To kick things off, we’re going to create a new subdirectory for your new child theme.

      There are plenty of ways to interact with your website’s file structure — such as through your panel — but we’re partial to Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) due to its ease of use. To access your website via FTP, you’ll need a dedicated client. We recommend using FileZilla since it’s easy to pick up even for beginners, and it’s under constant development. If you’re not au fait with using FTP, you’ll also need to brush up on your skills before tackling these steps.

      Once installed, access your website’s directory using your SFTP credentials. This directory most often shows up as public_html but at DreamHost, the default is the domain you’ve added (

      Enter the directory and make your way to wp-content/themes/. Inside, you’ll find a unique folder for each of your WordPress themes.

      The Themes folder in wpcontent

      Now, right-click anywhere within the themes directory, pick the Create directory option, then set a name for your new folder:

      Creating a child theme folder

      Your child theme’s folder can have any name you want. However, for practical purposes, we recommend giving it a title you can easily recognize, such as twentytwentytwo-child (or something else, depending on what its parent theme is).

      Once you have a folder for your child theme ready to go, you’re ready to move on to step number two.

      2. Create a Theme Stylesheet

      As you may know, stylesheets are the CSS files that provide your pages with most of their visual flair. Each theme comes with its own unique stylesheet, and your child is no exception. Remember that by default your child theme will inherit all its parent’s styles. However, you can override those by adding new code to the style.css file you’re about to create.

      While your child theme’s style.css file will come in handy down the line, it also fulfills an important purpose right now. It simply tells WordPress “Hey, I’m a theme as well, load me alongside the rest!”

      For that to happen, you need to return to your child theme’s directory and access it. Right now, the folder should be empty. Right-click anywhere within and choose the Create new file option. When FileZilla prompts you to choose a name for it, type style.css and confirm your decision.

      Creating a style.css file

      Finally, we need to add a short snippet of code to that file. Right-click on it and choose View/Edit. This option will download a copy of the file to your computer and open it using your local editor. When the file is open, you’ll need to paste in the following text:

      Theme Name: Twenty Twenty-Two Child
      Theme URI:
      Description: Your first child theme!
      Author: John Doe
      Author URI:
      Template: twentytwentytwo
      Version: 1.0.0
      License: GNU General Public License v2 or later
      License URI:
      Tags: child theme
      Text Domain: twenty-twenty-two-child

      At first glance, this seems like a lot of information, but for a child theme to work, there’s only one field you need to get right: Template. In the example above, you can see we used twentytwentytwo, which is the name of the Twenty Twenty-Two theme’s directory. If you’re using a different theme as a parent, you need to replace that value with the name of its folder (not the theme’s full name).

      You’ll also want to pick a title and description that makes sense for your child theme since you’ll see both within WordPress’ Theme tab. As for the rest of the fields, the values can be replaced with anything you like.

      Moving on, after you’ve set the correct Template value and tweaked the code, you can save the changes to your style.css file and close the text editor. Now, FileZilla will ask you if you want to replace the file on your server with the local copy you just modified. Say Yes, and access your WordPress dashboard. If you look at the Themes tab, you should see a new addition.

      The Theme’s tab in WordPress

      3. Configure Your Child Theme to Inherit Its Parent’s Style

      By now, you should have created a folder and style.css file for your new child theme. Within the latter, we included information designating it as a theme. The next step is to make sure your child theme inherits its parent’s style and features.

      To do this, we’re going to use a functions.php file, which enables you to instruct WordPress to add new features. Within that file, we’re going to add a script to “queue up” your parent theme’s stylesheet (not the one we just created). Afterward, your child theme will be ready for you to use.

      To start, return to your child theme’s directory. Inside, create a new file called functions.php, just as you did with style.css during step number two.

      Creating a functions.php file for a child theme

      Now open the file using FileZilla’s View/Edit option and paste the following code within:

      add_action( 'wp_enqueue_scripts', 'enqueue_parent_styles' );
      function enqueue_parent_styles() {
      wp_enqueue_style( 'parent-style', get_template_directory_uri() . '/style.css' );

      In this case, there’s no need to replace any of the code’s values. The same code will work regardless of which parent theme you’re using since you already designated this using the style.css file.

      To make a long story short, that snippet of code tells WordPress it should load your parent theme’s stylesheet, which is the last piece of the puzzle you need for your child theme to work.

      Now save the changes to your functions.php file and close it. Make sure to agree when FileZilla asks you if you want to replace your website’s functions.php file, and that’s it! Now your child theme is ready for its grand debut.

      4. Activate Your New Child Theme

      To use your child theme, return to your WordPress dashboard and go to the Appearance > Themes tab. Inside, there should be one theme without a featured image — your child theme.

      Activating a child theme

      Click on the Activate button next to the theme’s name and open your website as you normally would. If you followed the previous three steps to the letter, your site should look exactly as it did before we got started.

      The Twenty Twenty-Two theme

      Feel free to take a quick look around just to triple check everything is working correctly. If the answer is “Yes” (which it should be), you’re ready to move on to the second part of this tutorial, where we’ll talk about how to use your new child theme.

      However, before that, let’s make one quick pit stop and add a featured image to your child theme.

      5. Add an Image to Your Child Theme

      Just so we’re clear — when we talk about a theme’s featured image, we’re referring to the graphic that shows up above its name within the Themes tab. Here are a few examples.

      A theme’s featured image

      Newly minted child themes don’t come with these images, so you need to provide one for WordPress to load it. Fortunately, this is a very simple process. All you have to do is add a PNG image called screenshot.png within your child theme’s directory.

      Adding a screenshot.png file to your child theme’s directory

      WordPress will display this image at a 387 x 290 resolution. However, you’ll probably want to save it using a higher dimension so it displays well on larger screens. In any case, you can use any image you want as your theme’s screenshot.

      A child theme with a featured image

      With that out of the way, your Themes tab should be looking fabulous once more, so it’s time to get back to business.

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      How to Customize Your WordPress Child Theme (4 Tips)

      At this stage, you should have a fully working child theme on your hands. More importantly, you also have a firm understanding of how the entire process works and why each step in creating one is necessary. This means we can jump right into playing around with your child theme using the files you just created!

      1. Add Custom Styles

      As you already know, every WordPress child theme automatically inherits its parent’s styles. However, they also have their own stylesheet. Any customizations you add to your child theme’s style.css file will then override their parent’s styles if there’s any conflict between them.

      Tweaking your theme’s style using CSS is simple as long as you know what its elements are. Even if you don’t, you can easily find out using a web inspector, such as Chrome DevTools, which is included with your browser. Just right-click the element you want to alter and select the Inspect option.

      Inspecting an element in Google Chrome

      Now, the page’s source code will show up on a column to your right, including the specific class for the element you’re inspecting:

      Analyzing an element’s CSS class

      Armed with that information, you can access your child theme’s style.css file and add the necessary code to tweak it. You can then save the changes to your style.css file and you’re good to go. Return to your website’s front end to see what your theme looks like now.

      2. Learn to Override Your Parent Theme’s Files

      A minute ago, we talked about how your child theme’s style.css automatically override its parent theme’s code. The same holds true for any other file of which there are two between your parent theme and its child.

      Imagine, for example, you decide to create a child for the Twenty Twenty-Two theme. The parent, in this case, has a footer.php file within its theme folder:

      A theme’s footer.php file

      If you were to create a footer.php file within its child theme, WordPress would automatically load that one instead. The platform does this as long as both files share the same folder tree structure. In this case, since your parent theme’s footer.php file is located at the top of the twentytwentytwo directory, the same has to hold true for its counterpart.

      Adding a footer.php file to a child theme

      As long as both files share the same name, WordPress will do the rest. Using this trick, you’ll be able to alter any aspect of your theme’s functionality. Plus, if you ever break anything, you can simply delete the offending file from your child theme’s directory and start over.

      3. Create Custom Page Templates

      Whenever you create a new page in WordPress, you can choose which template to use alongside it. Some of the most common examples include full-width layouts or those with sidebars.

      Choosing a page template in WordPress

      You can add a new layout to any theme you want, although the process is a bit involved. If you want to try your hand at creating a new one, here’s a tutorial to get you started.

      4. Use Theme Hooks

      In WordPress, hooks are triggers that enable you to add custom code when something happens or tweak the way your files work. These are both things you can accomplish by modifying your files, but using hooks is much cleaner since they exist separately.

      Learning how to create hooks is a bit beyond the scope of this article, though.

      In short, you can add hooks to your child theme using its own functions.php file. This way, any modifications you make remain independent of its parent theme.

      Unlock the Benefits of WordPress Child Themes

      WordPress child themes can be intimidating at first. Creating one requires you to roll up your sleeves, but after you do it, you’ll realize the process isn’t that complicated. Plus, adding customizations to your child theme should provide you with a better understanding of how WordPress works, which can open a lot of doors. Who knows? At some point, you may even end up creating your own theme.

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      How to Install a WordPress Theme (Tutorial)

      In this post, we’ll give you some advice on what to do before you add a new theme to your website. Then we’ll present two methods for installing and activating your WordPress theme.

      We’ve written previous guides on the topic of what WordPress themes are and how to find them. However, there’s one more crucial step to take. Once you’ve located the perfect theme for your site, you’ll need to get it up and running.

      Fortunately, this couldn’t be easier to do. Installing and activating a new theme in WordPress is simple, whether you got it from the official directory or some other source. Plus, you can change themes whenever you’d like with the press of a button.

      What to Do Before Installing Your WordPress Theme

      Installing a theme in WordPress isn’t difficult, and we’ll discuss how to do that in a moment. First, however, let’s talk about what to do beforehand. There are a few things you might need to do in preparation for adding your new theme.

      For example, you’ll want to:

      • Make sure you’ve thoroughly vetted the theme, which includes checking out its ratings and reviews. Also, take a look at how frequently it’s updated by the developer.
      • If the theme has a demo available, try it out to see if you like its appearance and features. You can also check how a theme will look with your content after installation, which we’ll discuss later.
      • Consider creating a staging site to test out the theme before adding it to your live site. This is a particularly important step if you’re switching themes on an already established site. You can see exactly how it will look and find out if it causes any compatibility issues or other problems.
      • If you’re setting up a new WordPress site, make sure you’ve covered all the necessary tasks to get it up and running. These include signing up for a domain and choosing a quality WordPress hosting plan.

      Once you’ve taken care of the above tasks — or however many of them apply to your site — you’ll be ready to install your new WordPress theme. There are a couple of ways to do this, so we’ll talk about each one in turn.

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      How to Install a WordPress Theme (2 Methods)

      Before we show you how to install a theme, there’s one more crucial thing to do first. If you’re changing themes on a site that already has content, you’ll want to make sure you have a recent backup in place. This will be essential for restoring your site in case the new theme causes any problems — especially if you aren’t using a staging site to test it.

      1. Install a Free Theme From the WordPress Theme Directory

      Let’s start with the easiest of the twothree installation methods. If you aren’t familiar with the WordPress Theme Directory, this is one of the best places to find themes for your site. Everything listed here is free and has been thoroughly vetted by a team of volunteers. What’s more, you can install a theme from the directory without leaving your WordPress dashboard.

      To get started, visit your site and navigate to Appearance > Themes. Then click on the Add New button:

      WordPress Appearance menu

      You’ll be presented with a searchable version of the Theme Directory. You can look through the most popular themes or filter options based on layouts, features, and more.

      If you know what theme you’re looking for, you can simply type its name into the search box. Otherwise, you can browse the directory until you find a theme you like.

      Once you know which theme you want, hover over its image and click on the Install button:

      browse for available WordPress themes

      WordPress will spend a few moments installing the theme. Then you’ll be given a few follow-up options:

      activate installed WordPress theme

      If you click on Live Preview, you’ll be able to see what your site will look like using this theme. Meanwhile, clicking on the Activate button will switch your site to the new theme immediately. That’s all you need to do!

      2. Upload a .zip File in the WordPress Dashboard

      At this point, you may be wondering how to install a theme that you got from a third party. If you’ve bought a premium theme from another directory or a developer’s website, you won’t be able to install it using the above method.

      Fortunately, installing a theme you’ve bought or downloaded elsewhere is a simple process. The theme should have been provided to you as a .zip file, which you can upload directly to your site. If you don’t know where to find that file, contact the theme’s developer and they should be able to help you out.

      Once you have the theme’s .zip file saved to your computer, go to your WordPress dashboard. Navigate to Appearance > Themes and click on Add New. This time, however, you’ll want to click on the Upload Theme button at the top of the page:

      upload a WordPress theme

      Next, select Choose File. Then select the theme’s file on your computer and click on Install Now. WordPress will display a success message when the theme installation is complete:

      install a WordPress theme from a ZIP file

      As before, you can either see what the theme will look like using Live Preview or hit Activate to make it official.

      How to Change Your Current WordPress Theme

      If you have several WordPress themes already installed (using the above methods), you may want to know how to switch back and forth between them. This is very simple.

      Just go to Appearance > Themes to view your current list of options. Then, click on whichever theme you’d like to use and select Activate:

      activate WordPress theme

      That’s all you need to do to change themes! Don’t forget that you can use the Live Preview link to see what your site will look like before activating the theme.

      Every time you switch themes, it’s worth checking to see if there are new settings you need to configure. Take a look at any new tabs or sections added by the theme, as well as at the theme customizer, and make sure you have everything set up the way you’d like. If you run into any trouble, most WordPress themes come with documentation and forums where you can find help.

      Install Your New Theme Today

      Adding a theme to your WordPress website is exciting. You’ll get a brand new look, plenty of options to play with, and elements to personalize. Of course, to get there, you’ll first need to know how to install and activate your theme.

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