How to Detect WordPress Plugins

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Sometimes there’s a need to find out which plugins a WordPress-powered website is using. Why would you want to know this? For instance, sooner or later you could stumble upon a website displaying some kind of feature or function you like so much you’ll want to use/replicate it on your own website — if only you could work out which plugin is responsible. 

Things to remember

First of all, unfortunately, not all WordPress web site’s functionality is produced by plugins (some functionality, for example, may very well be inherent to the theme itself).

Secondly, there is no 100% way to find out ALL of the plugins being used on a site: although there are a number of ways to go about trying.

We will start with the easiest and finish with some more involved methods, let’s take a look at the various means at our disposal and see how far we can get!

Automated tools

Using automated online detecting tools is a quick and easy to use way to find out which plugins a website uses. However, such tools are far from able to detect all plugins and many of these tools aren’t particularly forthcoming about this, which often leads to people giving up their detective activities all too soon. Still, they are, nevertheless, a great place to start.

The most popular of these tools capable of detecting WordPress plugins are WordPress Plugin Detector, WPThemeDetector, What Theme Is That, Built With, etc. 

Each of these tools works slightly differently — meaning some can detect plugins that others can’t: so it’s always worth using more than one tool in order to yield a more comprehensive list of results — note: even combined these tools can only detect about five or six of the plugins used on this website.

Signs within the source code

When it comes to looking for WordPress plugins, the code is often the place where you’ll find traces of plugins.

  1. Plugin Directories

Do a quick search in the resulting code for “wp-content/plugins/”. Whatever comes after this term in the code (note: there will likely be multiple instances of this term on the page if more than one plugin is being used so you’ll need to search more than once to cover them all) could very well be the name of a plugin.

It can also be worth watching out for either any stylesheet or JavaScript file names (look for anything that comes immediately before either “.css” or “.js” within the code) as these can also occasionally indicate plugin names.

  1. HTML comments 

Yoast’s SEO Plugin is an excellent example of this. Using the ‘View Page Source’ method outlined above, scroll through the code looking for lines of green text: these green lines are the HTML comments!

Assuming such comments exist, they will often lead you directly to more info on a particular plugin being used — easy!

  1. Specific web elements

This last method is often the most effective when trying to find which plugin is responsible for generating a particular feature on the page.

Select “Inspect Element” from the resulting drop-down menu and you’ll be presented with a split view of the page and the underlying code. Take a look at the code and try to find ‘ID’ or ‘Class’ names, which will often look something like ‘class=”‘ or ‘ID=”‘. Whatever comes directly after either of these code attributes could very well be the name of the plugin responsible for the feature!

Forums

Even if no members of a forum like Reddit, Quora, etc. can tell you which plugin is being used, it’s often the case that someone will know of a plugin that does something similar (or better)!

Email the site owner directly

You can always just ask! Some website owners won’t have the time (or inclination) to respond to an email asking them for details about their website/s, but some will, and some may even be genuinely pleased you’ve taken such an interest in their site!


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