How to Tell Which WordPress Plugins a Website Uses – 2019

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Sometimes you wanted to know what plugin or theme a site you came across to is using so we figured the next thing to cover is how to find out which plugins a WordPress-powered website is using. Why would you want to know this? Well, in all likelihood, sooner or later you’ll come across 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…

The first thing to mention here is a) unfortunately, not all such functionality will be produced by plugins (some functionality, for example, may very well be inherent to the theme itself), and b) there is no sure-fire way of finding out absolutely ALL of the plugins being used on a site: although there are a number of ways to go about trying…

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

Using automated tools

The easiest way to find out which plugins a website uses is by using automated online detecting tools. Unfortunately however, such tools are far from able to detect all plugins. What’s more, many of these tools aren’t particularly forth-coming about this, which often leads to people giving up their detective activities all too soon. Still, because these types of online detection tools are SO quick and easy to use, they are, nevertheless, a great place to start.

In no particular order, the most popular of these tools capable of detecting WordPress plugins are perhaps: WordPress Plugin Checker, WPThemeDetector (a service primarily aimed at detecting WordPress themes that we’ve already covered in an earlier post), What Theme Is That and Built With.

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To give you a quick idea of their accuracy, try using one or two to do a quick scan of this very site, WinningWP. We use somewhere in the region of about fifteen plugins; the best of these tools can only detect four of them!

It’s also well-worth mentioning that 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.

Looking for tell-tale signs within the source code

All websites use HTML to display their content. The browser sees this code and displays it to us in a way that we can recognize it (i.e. in paragraphs and images, etc). But with a little know-how, it’s not hard to view — and understand — the code itself; and when it comes to looking for WordPress plugins this is often exactly where you’ll find traces of them.

Let’s take a look at three ways to find the tell-tale signs some plugins leave behind using Chrome (although the same principles will also work in many other browsers):

Looking for plugin directories:

Right click somewhere on the website in question (not above an image) and select ‘View Page Source’ from the resulting drop-down menu. Now 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.

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