How to Fix the Problem When You aren't Able to Install a Plugin or Theme

Most of the WordPress users freak out when they’re not allowed to install a plugin or theme, facing such an issue can mean so many things. Depending on the expertise, many people don’t have an idea if they use the fully-hosted WordPress version or self-hosted. If you analyze forums, you can see many cases having the problem of a website using the standalone WordPress software. Have you ever encountered with an issue where you don’t aren’t able to install a theme or plugin? In this tutorial, you’re going to learn the possible causes and their solutions. If you’re wondering as if any coding skills are necessary; you will be glad to know that even a beginner can solve such an error.

Why Aren’t You Able to Install a Plugin or Theme

As I have mentioned before, you need to understand the concept before freaking out. I know it can be hard for newbies to deal with a WordPress error. While managing a site, you may see tons of errors, and you can’t reach out to your techie guy every time. Learning the basics is vital.

1. or

At some point, every WordPress user gets confused between and You should know that both are the different platforms. is a fully-hosted platform, which is managed by Automattic. Whereas, when you buy a web hosting from companies like Bluehost, Hostinger, GoDaddy, etc. You use the WordPress software from The website is a self-hosted site. And at, you have no option to install a plugin or the third-party themes unless you have their Business Plan. You should know that if you’re using your site for free, it’s, where you can’t install a plugin.

2. Wrong File and Folder Permissions

You can get many errors because of the wrong file and folder permissions. When you get a 403 forbidden error, it’s most probably because you don’t have the necessary permissions. When you can’t install a plugin or theme from the free WordPress repositories, it’s possible that the folder permissions for the uploads’ folder are wrong. How to Fix the Problem When You aren't Able to Install a Plugin or Theme You should make sure the file permissions are 644, and the folder permissions are 755, you can accomplish it using cPanel or FTP.

3. Don’t Have Enough Privilege

If you’re not the sole owner of your site, it’s possible that you don’t have enough privilege to install a plugin or theme. You may already know that a website can have different types of users.

  • Administrator
  • Contributor
  • Author
  • Editor
  • Subscriber

If the administrator hasn’t given the privilege to install a plugin or theme to you, you can’t do it. So, make sure you check your user role and its abilities.

4. Limited Memory

You may always know that every web hosting company sets the default file upload limit, the user can’t upload a file bigger than that. When you install a third-party plugin or theme, you should check the ZIP file’s size. Sometimes, a theme with a big size doesn’t fit the default file upload limit. How to Fix the Problem When You aren't Able to Install a Plugin or Theme So, to fix it, you can use the wp-config.php file to increase the default file upload limit.

define('WP_MEMORY_LIMIT', '256M');

Save the file and try clearing the browser cache and cookies.

5. Having a Multi-Site Network

If you use a multi-site network, it’s possible that the site admin has disabled the plugin installation for all the other site except the primary site. If you’re a WordPress lover and supports the community, you may have seen the official websites of WordCamps, all those sites are running on a multi-site network. Depending on your choice, either you have a network using subdomains or subdirectories, you should check if your site has the privilege to use a plugin or not.

I Hope You Have Understood the Concept

For a newbie, dealing with an error while installing a plugin or theme can be tricky. I remember when I faced the issue in my starting days. As usual, I was using the free version of WordPress, which didn’t have an option to install a plugin or any third-party theme. But after having a self-hosted website, the main causes were the limited memory and wrong folder permissions. I am sure, you can check these things for your WordPress website.


Just like every other common WordPress error, you can solve the error of not able to install a plugin or theme in no time. If you’re a techie person, you may already know about multi-site and So, the causes may be related to the memory or file permissions. I hope you can deal with it.

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