My WordPress expert friend told me that I should install a new plug-in on my own WP blog called “TinyMCE Advanced”. I’m game, but exactly how do I install a WordPress plug-in?
First off, congratulations for not just running WordPress, but for being game to try adding a plug-in to your site. Now the wrinkle: Not every plug-in you can install is good, not every one is safe and not every one is even benign. Some of them, for example, can break your theme or interfere with other themes, which is why it’s important to talk to other WordPressers to see what they’re running and to read the reviews at the plug-in archive on WordPress.org.
But don’t panic! Let’s just take this step by step.
To start, since we’re going to install something that monkeys with the default editor you use to write new blog entries in the administrative backend of WordPress, let’s have a look at the standard editor widget, specifically the top of the window. It looks like this:
That should look familiar!
To install a new plug-in to WordPress, look on the left side for “Plug-Ins” on the admin bar. Move your cursor over it — at least in WordPress 4.0 — and a sub-menu pops out:
If you’re guessing that you choose “Add New”, well, you’re right!
Click on that and you’ll be shown a screen full of popular plug-ins. But we want to focus on the very top of that window, where it shows this:
Go ahead and type in the name of the plug-in you seek into the search box.
I’ll do the same, typing in “TinyMCE Advanced”. A few options are displayed, but here’s the one you want:
Note the number of downloads and the star rating. If you are poised to install a plug-in with few downloads and low ratings, think twice! Look for an alternative that’s more popular and higher rated!
In this case, 4.2 million downloads suggests it’s probably worth the effort. So click on “Install Now”.
It’ll ask if you really want to do so:
In this instance, I’m installing the plug-in on my Dave On Film blog, but yours will have your domain in the dialog box.
Sure this is what you want to do? Excellent. Click “OK”.
Now the plug-in’s code base will be downloaded and unpacked:
You should never see this fail, but if it does, definitely don’t proceed! Email your admin or hosting company for assistance.
In this instance, however, we got “Successfully installed”, so click on “Activate Plugin” to actually enable it:
Now it’s up and running, as you can see from the above entry in the Plug-Ins screen. If it had configuration options, they’d show up between the “Deactivate” and “Edit” options. Oh, and that “Edit” button? Never click on it. It shows you the actual source code and it’s incredibly easy to break things if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing!
Now that TinyMCE Advanced is installed, let’s see what it does:
Cool, that whole “File” “Edit” “Insert” row of options and menus shows up to give us considerably more editing capabilities. Definitely worth it.
That’s the story. I also recommend any time you add a plug-in that you poke around on your site making sure your pages still lay out properly, your forms work, etc. All good? Then you’re good to go!