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Add WordPress Plugins and Themes

The WordPress installation comes with the default themes from WordPress, the Stanford Lagunita theme, and several plugins already installed. You may download and install additional themes and plugins created by the worldwide WordPress community. You must maintain these additional themes or plugins, however, so be careful to choose ones that work well.

Using pre-installed themes and plugins

Your WordPress installation comes with one Stanford theme and four plugins (Akismet, Hello Dolly, HTTP Authentication, and Stanford Reverse Proxy).

Stanford theme

The Stanford-branded Lagunita theme is the default theme for any installation of WordPress done through the WordPress Installer. The Lagunita theme is designed for members of the Stanford community at large. Official departments and administrative units can request the Stanford Cardinal theme by submitting a Help request

Note: Do not move, delete, or modify themes directly, because that breaks the upgrade process. The easiest and safest way to add functionality to a theme is to use a "child" theme. A WordPress child theme inherits the functionality of another theme, but allows you to modify it. Read more about child themes and how to create them at

Akismet plugin

Akismet is an anti-spam service for websites that have comments enabled. The Akismet plugin checks for spam in the comments on your website, filters comments that look like spam, and lets you review the comments marked as spam. The plugin requires an API key

Hello Dolly plugin

The Hello Dolly plugin displays lyrics from the song "Hello, Dolly" in the WordPress Admin panel. This is a default plugin that most users leave inactivated. You can inactivate the plugin or delete it if you do not want it.

HTTP Authentication plugin

The HTTP Authentication plugin is a third-party plugin that Stanford uses to provide integration with WebAuth, allowing you and your users to log in to your WordPress site using your SUNetID and password. If you select WebAuth protection at installation, this plugin is activated for you.

Reverse-Proxy plugin

The Reverse-Proxy plugin is only needed by sites that are using a Web Virtual Host (also known as a vanity URL) that was set up a long time ago as a reverse proxy. Most new vanity URLs are not set up in this way, therefore new installations do not need this plugin, and it is inactive by default.

Using additional themes and plugins

There are thousands of free or low-cost non-Stanford themes and plugins available to add design or functionality to your WordPress site. You can browse themes and plugins on  As with any software, the quality of themes and plugins varies. For theme and plugin recommendations from other WordPress users on campus, email the WordPress users mailing list. The Stanford University WordPress Community of Practice also maintains a list of plugins widely used at Stanford. University IT can not help you choose or maintain themes or plugins that you install on your own.

Installing themes and plugins through WordPress

Most, but not all, themes and plugins work on the Stanford web servers and installation can be done through WordPress.

Installing themes and plugins manually

Most plugins and themes can be installed through WordPress, but some, like the ones not on the WordPress Plugins Directory, need to be installed manually. If the plugin you are trying to install is one of these, follow the directions below for a manual install.

The WordPress software is installed on Stanford's distributed file system, called the Andrew File System (AFS). Follow these steps to install your own themes and plugins:

  1. Download the themes or plugins to your computer.
  2. Unzip (expand) the themes or plugins on your computer.
  3. Connect to AFS using the secure file transfer protocol (SFTP) application or OpenAFS.
    1. SFTP:  University IT provides two SFTP software programs free of charge: Fetch for Macintosh and SecureFX for Windows. Instructions on how to install the software and connect to shared servers are included on the Essential Stanford Software pages.
      1. For Macintosh:
        1. Download Fetch for Macintosh
        2. Installation instructions for Fetch
      2. For Windows:
        1. Download SecureFX for Windows
        2. Installation instructions for SecureFX
    2. OpenAFS: University IT packages OpenAFS client software for both Mac OS X and Windows. This software provides an alternative to SFTP clients like Fetch and SecureFX for people who frequently access files in AFS space. Follow the instructions on the OpenAFS pages to install and connect to (mount) your group or department directory.
  4. Upload the plugins and themes to the location in AFS where WordPress is installed.
  5. Activate the themes or plugins using the WordPress Admin panel.
Last modified December 6, 2017