Last night WP Beginner sent out a Tweet asking how many plugins people used on their sites. This is one of my favorite questions, simply because I always love to see the response people send back. As I’ve mentioned quite a few times, I’m an avid opponent to the idea that a lot of plugins inherently cause problems.

How many plugins do I run? Currently there are 48 active plugins on this site. The number has stayed pretty consistent for the last year with just a few changes here and there.

After WP Beginner sent out their Tweet, Will Schmierer asked me, jokingly, how many of the 49 (I was wrong in my answer as only 48 were active) were plugins that I had written:


Though Will was mostly joking when he asked he that, he does bring up a good point: as someone will only writes plugins (I dabble in themes occasionally), how many of the 48 active plugins did I write? The answer is 17.

Will went on to say this:


That’s what brings me to this post now. Since I write about plugins a lot, and I advocate quality over numbers, I do feel that I should share my list of active plugins. I will be up front and say that there are at least three plugins active on my site that I don’t actually use, they’re just activated for demonstration purposes. I use this anytime I need to upload a large video file for member-only tutorials.

1. Add From Server
If you have ever tried to upload a large file to the media library, you will know that WordPress typically doesn’t allow larger than 32 – 64MB files. Add From Server lets you upload files via FTP and then import them (after they’re uploaded) into your Media Library.

2. Akisment
This plugin needs no introduction and helps fight spam.

3. Audio Player
A great plugin for podcasters; it allows you to embed audio files directly onto your site. I use it primarily for my Plugin Thoughts podcast, for the times that I do audio only.

4. BackupBuddy
Every site, without exception, should have a backup system, whether it’s through the hosting company, a cron job, or a plugin. BackupBuddy is by far the single greatest WordPress backup system I have ever used. It does automated / scheduled backups, creates easy restore points, and lets me easily migrate the site to a new host anytime I want (if needed).

5. Better Delete Revision
When you write a lot of content, post revisions (the automatic version control system built into WordPress) quickly stack up and increase the size of your database. This little plugin helps keep your database small(er) by automatically removing revisions after a certain point and limiting the total number of revisions that are kept in storage.

6. Better Recent Posts Widget Pro

This is one of my own plugins that I use for showing recent tutorials, plugins, and other posts in widget areas on the site. It greatly expands on the default Recent Posts widget by adding support for custom post types, taxonomies, thumbnails, and a myriad of other options.

7. Better Related Posts Widget

Another of my plugins, this is a simple widget for showing related posts/pages to the currently viewed item. It includes support for showing related items from specific taxonomies and everything is cached to better performance.

8. Cleaner Gallery

A great plugin from Justin Tadlock for improving the standard WordPress gallery output. It also adds support for opening gallery images in a variety of different lightbox-type effects.

9. Color Admin Posts

More than anything, I just really like this plugin. It lets you color code posts in the dashboard list tables based on their status. All posts that currently saved as drafts, for example, on this site show up with a subtle yellow background in the admin. This makes it really easy to identify work-in-progress posts. You can set a color for every status.

10. Comment Menu Links

This is a simple plugin I wrote to add comment status options as sub menu items to the dashboard Comments menu. It provides quick navigational access to your approved comments, pending comments, spam comments, and trashed comments.

11. Configure SMTP

The WordPress mail system fails a lot, usually (I think) due to hosting configurations or limitations. Configure SMTP is a simple plugin that reroutes all out going email from your site to an SMTP server, such as Gmail, providing a much more reliable email system.

12. Custom Functions

This is a custom plugin that is specific to this site. I use it for adding bits and pieces of functionality throughout the site. I will usually add things here that don’t necessarily warrant their own plugin, or ones I just didn’t feel like writing into a separate plugin. Some examples of functionality I have in here include:

  • Adding some custom post types to blog archives
  • Setting up a simple short code to perform custom queries
  • Creating the notice system that I use for advertising discount codes and other items (similar to Simple Notices Pro)

13. Easy WordPress Search Monitor

A sweet little plugin for tracking searches performed on your site. It records each search and allows you to see which keywords are most often searched for.

14. Expandable Dashboard Recent Comments

This is a real gem of a plugin that improves the default dashboard comments widget by adding in the option to expand a comment and view the entire content of a comment. By default only comment excerpts are shown.

15. Github Contributors Short Code

Another plugin that I wrote that allows you to display the avatars for all users that have contributed to a Github project.

16. Gravity Forms

Contact forms on steroids, Gravity Forms is by far one of the most robust form-creation plugins available. I use it for all contact forms, donation forms, polls, and more.

17. Gravity Forms MailChimp Add-On

The Mail Chimp add-on for Gravity Forms powers my newsletter signup that you can see in the footer of the site.

18. Gravity Forms PayPal Add-On

The PayPal add-on for Gravity Forms powers my Support the Site page where I accept donations to help improve the site.

19. Jetpack by WordPress.com

There are a lot of pieces to the Jetpack plugin, but I use it primarily for visitor stats tracking. The subscribe to comments / blog is also a great module in the plugin.

20. jQuery Contact Shortcode

One of the first plugins I wrote when I started the site, this is a simple contact form. It remains active only for demonstrative purposes. Note, this plugin is not up to par with WordPress standards and should probably be removed.

21. Love It Pro

Another plugin that I wrote, Love It Pro is what powers the “Love It” system you can see at the top right of all posts on the site.

22. Meta Box

This is a utility plugin that simply provides a class for creating meta boxes on posts, pages and custom post types. I tie into this plugin from my custom functions to create some meta boxes that are used to add some standard information, such as premium videos, to posts.

23. Multi-column Tag Map

A really sweet little plugin, this lets you create a tag map that shows all tags on your site sorted alphabetically. You can see this in action by going to the Tag Index page.

24. Ninety Ajax Login/Register

This is the ajaxed login form that you see in my sidebar. The version running on this site has been modified a bit to add in the “My Account” link and the bookmarks, and the original version also includes a simple registration form.

25. Post Series

A really slick little plugin for create series of posts. This is what I use for creating my tutorial series.

26. Quick Page/Post Redirect DEV

I use this plugin for redirecting old or broken URLs to other pages. One case where this is really useful is for tutorials/plugins that I moved from my old site, Pippin’s Pages and the post slug is no longer the same.

27. Regenerate Thumbnails

This is one of the very rare plugins that I will actually say is just about a must-have for every single site. The only WordPress site that doesn’t need this (at least one) is a site that doesn’t use a single image. Anytime you adjust your image sizes, or your theme does it during an update, this plugin will allow you to recreate thumbnails for every image in your media library.

28. Restrict Content Pro

Another of my plugins, Restrict Content Pro powers the membership system on the site. The plugin includes support for creating subscription levels, managing users, creating discount codes, and more.

29. Restrict Content Pro – Age Restriction

This is an add-on for Restrict Content Pro that adds a checkbox to the registration form asking the user to verify they are at least 13 years of age or older. I wrote this plugin specifically for CG Cookie.com and myself and it has not been officially release.

30. Restrict Content Pro – Graphs

Another add-on for Restrict Content Pro, this plugin adds a Graphs page to the Restrict Content Pro menu in your Dashboard and shows graphs of your monthly earnings, members per subscription level, signups per day, and earnings per day.

31. Restrict Content Pro – Mail Chimp

Yet another add-on for Restrict Content Pro, this one adds a checkbox to the registration form that allows members to opt into signing up for my email newsletter, which I send via Mail Chimp.

32. Restrict Content Pro – Math Verification

And one more add-on for Restrict Content Pro, this plugin adds a simple math problem to the registration form that users must complete correctly before they will be allowed to signup. This helps tremendously in spam prevention.

33. SI CAPTCHA Anti-Spam

I really don’t like captchas, but this one adds a captcha to the default WordPress registration form, which keeps the bot registrations at bay. This plugin can also add captchas to the login and comment forms, if that is something you need.

34. Social Box

This is a simple plugin for letting people like, follow, or fan you on any of your social network profiles via a widget. You can see this running (a slightly modified version) in my sidebar.

35. Social Metrics

In an admin page, this plugin will show you the social stats for every post on your site. In a list on one page, I can easily see exactly how many times a post has been tweeted, liked on Facebook, and shared on Google+. I can also post any post to any of my three primary networks from that page.

36. Star Rating for Reviews

On occasion I will write a review of another developer’s plugin; this is the plugin that I use for showing the number of stars I have rating the plugin I am reviewing at the bottom of the post. It’s very simple and really lightweight.

37. Stripe Digital Downloads

This is the predecessor to Easy Digital Downloads and is the plugin I use for selling plugins directly through my site. At some point I will replace this Easy Digital Downloads, but I haven’t gotten around to it. Update: Easy Digital Downloads now powers the plugin store.

38. Sugar FAQs

An FAQ plugin I wrote for showing your frequently asked questions in a nice accordion style. This plugin is only active for demonstrative purposes.

39. Sugar Modal Windows

Another plugin that I wrote for creating and displaying modal windows throughout your site. This plugin is also active only for demonstrative purposes.

40. Ultimate Tag Cloud Widget

This takes the default tag cloud widget and expands on it. You can see it active in the footer of this site.

41. User Bookmarks

A plugin that I originally wrote for CG Cookie, INC., this plugin allows your logged-in users to bookmark their favorite posts and pages on your site. This is the same plugin I use for my bookmarks system here on this site.

42. User Switching

Another of the very rare “essential” plugins (in my mind), this plugin is absolutely a must have for anyone that runs a membership site. It allows you to easily “switch” to any other user on your site, meaning that you essentially log into their account and see the site exactly as they would. It’s a phenomenal tool for testing membership areas.

43. W3 Total Cache

There are several highly recommend caching plugins out there, but this is the one I prefer and recommend. I do not have any specific reasons for saying this one is better than the others, except for that I’m used to it and it works very well for me. One of the things I really like about it is the easy integration with CDNs for hosting media files for improved performance.

44. Widget Logic

This is one of the plugins that is just sheer genius. It allows you to conditionally apply widgets to certain areas of your site, but without requiring a dozen or more different widget areas. Using simple conditional tags, you can easily limit a widget to only pages, only categories, or even specific pages or categories. Any conditional tag available to WordPress can be used.

45. WordPress Download Monitor

This plugin lets you easily add download files to your site and then track who downloads them and how many times each one is downloaded. I use it for the free downloads I often attach to tutorials.

46. WordPress HTTPS

If you use HTTPS on your site, but only conditionally on a few pages, then you should absolutely be using this plugin. It helps validate SSL certificates by getting rid of the nasty “there are unsecure elements on this page” warning. It allows you to enable HTTPS on a page-by-page basis.

47. WordPress SEO

Another plugin that needs no introduction. Yoast SEO is one of the best things you can do for your site in terms of search engine optimization, coming just after writing good content.

48. WP-Syntax

As someone who uses a lot of code in my posts, WP-Syntax is one of my best friends by providing me a simple way to embed code into a WordPress post or page. It takes care of escaping all special characters as well, so all I have to do is paste it from my editor.
[divider]
Alright, I’ve shared the plugin I use day to day on this site, now it’s your turn.

  1. Remi

    Very interesting list, i think i am going to add a few more plugins !

  2. Randy

    User switching sounds really cool! I just did a huge membership site that gets over 30,000 unique visits a month. You can bet I spent a lot of time logging in as different sample users during testing. I think I had 4 browsers open at one time with different user roles.

    One question, I do not notice any security plugins like log in limiting attempts, etc.
    I was wondering if you just implement your own modifications?

    I like to see plugin lists from people I respect so thanks!

    (sidenote) I have been really liking this blog since only recently following on RSS. You have moved up quickly along my iGoogle page to the #3 spot in my 3rd column, hehe. Thought you might like to know.

    • Pippin

      I use User Switching extensively on a client site that I do a lot of work on. It really is awesome.

      I personally don’t really like those security plugins. They definitely serve their purpose and work well for some sites / users, but I have never personally had a need for them.

      I’m so glad to hear you enjoy the site!

  3. Bartosz

    I create WP based websites for clients so I generally use a set of plugins as a starting point in developement of a project. Each site is different but there are some plugins that are shared. So here’s my list:

    1. WordPress SEO by Yoast – perfect SEO solution for WP, but also a XML sitemap generator and breadrumbs functionality
    2. WP Super Cache – less complex cache alternative, very effective and localization ready (important from my perspective)
    3. User Switching – simple, but very useful
    4. SlimStat – powerful statistics for WP, very useful for clients
    5. Advanced Custom Fields – great, flexible Content Construction Kit, a fantastic tools that makes my work much faster
    6. BackWPUp – free alternative to BackupBuddy, well written, backup plans and schedules and much more
    7. WPML – a must for multilanguage sites
    8. ALO EasyMail Newsletter – very nice and flexible Newsletter plugin, that is getting better and better in each version
    9. Codepress Admin Column – perfect, all in one solution for columns management (for posts, pages, users, comments, everything)
    10. Formidable Pro – Gravity Forms alternative, I’d say it’s better and more powerfult than GF
    11. uBillboard – a well known and popular commercial slider plugin

    And thats it. Most of the plugins above are complex and provide a complete solution for certain functionality (I preffer that over lot’s of small plugins).

    I also use lots of custom functions included in my starting theme that are focused on admin cleanup, customization and branding that work together to make WordPress a CMS I need.

    • Bartosz

      Thanks for the link – great article and very interesting discussion.

  4. jtorres_mora

    Hi, thanks for this post, really great.
    I recommend a great file like your “Widget Logic” recomendation.
    This is the link in CodeCanyon.
    The name: “Advanced Text Widget Pro”
    http://codecanyon.net/item/advanced-text-widget-pro/1256755
    Is really powerful WordPress Tool.

    Thanks.

  5. Matt

    Wow nice! I think you’re the first non-elitist WP dev to be running more than 5 plugins on their site 😉

    I especially like the add from server.

  6. Rilwis

    Nice list. I found some very interesting new plugins that I haven’t heard about. And many thanks for using my plugin 🙂

  7. Imbigwill

    This is a really great list, I use a lot of these as well, but not as many and even learned about a few I had never come across, all from a tweet. BTW sorry it took so long to post on this article I was getting married and on my honeymoon the day after. Awesome list again and thanks for sharing, you gonna be at WordCamp Baltimore or Philly coming up?

    • Pippin

      Sorry for not commenting? LOL, getting married is a dang good excuse to not do anything else 🙂 Congrats!

      No, unfortunately I won’t be making it to either of those. I did three WordCamps in August and have to take a break for a bit.

  8. Xav

    Hi Pippin,

    Quick question. Presumably quite a few of these will have their own stylesheets and js scripts. Do you normally write conditional code to selectively load them? Or just let the plugins do their thing?

    • Pippin

      I let the plugins do their thing, but I usually make sure they are doing it well before I let them do it 🙂

  9. lol

    When I originally commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now
    each time a comment is added I get several emails with
    the same comment. Is there any way you can remove people from that service?
    Thanks!

    • Pippin

      You can remove subscriptions from your WordPress.com account settings.

  10. Adam Symons

    Hey pippin,

    Love the site it’s really great, I wish I found you before I submitted my WordPress plugin… That’s me renaming all the functions with a prefix….

    Out of interest do you still use post series because it’s not available any more, shame because it would be great for my site !!

    Anything else you can say does the same job?

    Please keep up the great plugin tutorials, I’m really loving them… It really helps me, php is relatively new for me because I’m from a background of writing predominantly ‘monster bash scripts’ to solve problems, got to say php really is growing on me!

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