Although not mandatory, plugins are the backbone of any WordPress website. They represent a way to overcome many issues and add functionality that doesn’t exist by default. They can also improve the look and feel of your website, boost ease of use on both backend and front-end, and drastically improve security. The problem arises when you’re scouring the web mindlessly, checking the competition out, or doing research in your niche, and you see someone having something you don’t. If it becomes clear it’s a WordPress website and the “thing” is a custom addition, you’ll likely wonder, “how to know which plugin is used in WordPress site?” Here are some answers.
Note. We will sort methods by our subjective sense of difficulty, from the easiest to the hardest. That isn’t to say that any of them are out of reach for non-tech-savvy users. The “harder” methods might merely require more time or commitment, or can’t guarantee fast or any results.
1. Use this neat Google search trick
This is a trick hack that won’t work on any reputable WordPress website that takes its privacy seriously. However, it’s worth a try because of how little time it takes to check. The entire procedure is searching for:
Replace “website-name.com” with the actual domain name, and press Enter. If the website hasn’t forbidden access to the wp-content folder via the “robots.txt” file or the Google Search Console, you’ll see the number of plugins (About X results) and view them in search results one after another.
2. Discover plugin used in WordPress site via a web-based third party tool
Before you jump into this, we propose you double-check that a website is made in WordPress in the first place. If it isn’t, you would be wasting your time. Moreover, the procedure has a few similarities with the techniques we’ll mention below. Let’s dive in.
Right off the bat, we would advise you not to lose hope. These tools, and many others you can find yourself, are far from perfect. Each uses a slightly different method of discovery and even combined, you will probably find about half of the total plugins a website uses at best. Therefore, we suggest repeating a search at least once before trying out different services. With that said, here are several examples of cloud-based tools, none of which we’re affiliated with:
You can also try these two Google Chrome extensions:
Theme and plugin examination
You might have noticed that several tools above also identify a WordPress theme the website has installed. The opposite is true, too. Many tools that primarily recognize WordPress themes can also provide a list of plugins. Besides the one we mentioned, you can use the following two:
3. Investigate the source code of a WordPress website
When we talked about editing HTML in WordPress, we explained that’s how browsers display the contents of web pages. Well, you can see the source code of any page in a few clicks, and, with a bit of luck, identify the name of a WordPress plugin you seek.
Find plugin directory (wp-plugins)
Follow these steps to know which plugin is used in the WordPress site by searching for the directory file path:
- Right-click on the page where you think a plugin is used.
- Choose View page source.
- You’ll now see a lot of code. Use CTRL (Control) + F on Windows and Linux and Cmd (Command) + F on Mac to open a search bar.
- Search for “wp-content” or “wp-plugins”. Ideally, “wp-content/plugins/plugin-name/something.css” should be mentioned in code. The file extension could be .js or .html instead, too.
- There will undoubtedly be multiple instances of the same plugin alongside various plugin names. Jot them down and look them up via a search engine one by one.
Seek developer comments
This one is a tad harder to find because we can’t tell what exactly to search for. Your best bet is looking for comments that start with “//” or “/*” or perhaps “<—”. The goal is to discover descriptions left by the WordPress developers to help people find their way around the code or discover bonus resources. One example is YoastSEO, a plugin that, at the beginning of their code, mentions: <—- This site is optimized with the YoastSEO plugin v. (current version) – https://yoast.com/wordpress/plugins/seo —>.
Look for page elements belonging to plugins
This is another trick you can use to know which WordPress plugin is used on a site. Hover over, then right-click an element on the page. Instead of going to View page source, select Inspect. You’ll now see a split-screen view and a code for the element highlighted on the right-hand side. You have two choices now:
- Examine the code carefully for anything that could represent a plugin name. A smart way is to check classes (<class=…>; <div class=…>) or IDs (<id=…>). Do a quick search for anything you suspect could be related to a plugin, even if doesn’t seem like it. For instance, <div class=”jp-relatedposts“> leads to a Jetpack plugin.
- Switch from Elements (the default tab) to Sources in the top right corner.
- Click the Sources tab below.
- Expand the item tree until you get to wp-content.
- Expand plugins under “wp-content”.
- Check the list of plugins that play a part on the page.
4. Ask the WordPress community
When we discussed ways to master WordPress, we suggested joining the WordPress Community Support Forums. Since you require help from knowledgeable people, this is the perfect opportunity to do so. Post a screenshot or provide a website URL, and see if someone recognizes the plugin. Even if that doesn’t produce results, members may suggest a superior alternative.
5. Contact the website owner
Find the Contact Us page on the site whose plugin you admire, and reach out to the owner. Depending on the popularity of the website and whether they’ve hired representatives or an agency, you may get the name of the specific plugin. It’s undoubtedly worth a try while you explore other avenues or look for alternatives.