How to Easily Deactivate WordPress Plugins (Beginner’s Guide)


Do you want to learn how to deactivate WordPress plugins? One of the best things about WordPress plugins is that you can turn them off temporarily by deactivating them. You can also completely remove WordPress plugins by uninstalling them.

As a WordPress beginner, you need to know how to deactivate one or all of your WordPress plugins. Learning this will help you with troubleshooting and fixing common WordPress errors.

In this article, we will show you different ways to easily deactivate WordPress plugins. Our goal is to help you learn how to better manage WordPress plugins on your website.

How to easily deactivate WordPress plugins

Here is an overview of what you’ll learn in this article:

How to Deactivate a WordPress Plugin

Let’s start with deactivating a single WordPress plugin.

If you want to temporarily disable or deactivate a WordPress plugin, then you need to simply visit the Plugins » Installed Plugins page inside your WordPress admin area.

Deactivate a WordPress plugin

From here, you need to locate the WordPress plugin that you want to deactivate. Next, take your mouse to the plugin’s row, and it will show you a link to deactivate that particular plugin.

Clicking on the link will simply deactivate the WordPress plugin right away.

Once you deactivate the plugin, it still remains installed on your website, but WordPress will stop loading it.

If you want to start using the plugin again, then you will just need to click on the Activate link below it.

How to Bulk Deactivate WordPress Plugins

Sometimes you may need to deactivate all WordPress plugins on your website to troubleshoot issues. Instead of deactivating one plugin at a time, WordPress makes it easy to deactivate multiple or all WordPress plugins quickly.

Simply visit the Plugins » Installed Plugins page and check the box next to the plugins you want to deactivate. If you want to deactivate all WordPress plugins, then simply check the box at the top to select all plugins.

Select all plugins

Next, you need to select ‘Deactivate’ from the ‘Bulk Actions’ drop-down menu and click the ‘Apply’ button.

Bulk deactivate all WordPress plugins

WordPress will now deactivate all selected WordPress plugins.

How to Deactivate All WordPress Plugins via FTP

If you have been locked out of your WordPress admin area, then you will not be able to deactivate WordPress plugins from your dashboard.

In such situations, you will need to deactivate plugins using other methods. The easiest of them is to deactivate WordPress plugins via FTP or your WordPress hosting file manager.

Basically, WordPress looks for your installed plugins in the /wp-contents/plugins/ folder. If it cannot find the plugin’s folder, then WordPress will automatically deactivate all plugins.

Instead of deleting the plugin’s folder, we will just rename it.

First, you will need to connect to your WordPress site using an FTP client. Once connected, you need to navigate to the wp-content folder inside your WordPress root directory.

Rename plugins folder to deactivate all plugins

From here, you need to right-click on the plugins folder and then select ‘Rename’. This will bring up a popup where you need to enter a new name for your plugin’s folder such as plugins-deactivated.

Plugins deactivated

Your FTP client will now rename the plugin’s folder. You can now try to login to your WordPress admin area and visit the plugin’s page. You will see notifications about deactivated WordPress plugins.

Deactivated WordPress plugins

How to Manually Deactivate WordPress Plugins via PHPMyAdmin

The FTP method is definitely easier in our opinion. However, you can also deactivate all plugins using phpMyAdmin.

First, you will need to login to your web hosting account’s dashboard. Next, click on the phpMyAdmin icon under the ‘Databases’ section.

phpMyAdmin icon in cPanel

This will bring you to the phpMyAdmin interface. First, you will need to select your WordPress database from the left menu.

WordPress options table

PhpMyAdmin will now load your database tables in the right panel. You need to click on the ‘Browse’ button next to the wp_options table (your WordPress table name may differ depending on your WordPress database table prefix).

Now, phpMyAdmin will load data inside the options table. You need to scroll down to the row where option_name is ‘active_plugins’ and click on the ‘Edit’ button next to it.

Active plugins row in the WordPress database

PhpMyAdmin will open the row for editing, You need to delete the data inside the option_value field.

After that, click on the ‘Go’ button at the bottom to save your changes.

You can now visit your website and WordPress will see that all plugins have been deactivated.

What is The Difference Between Deactivating vs Uninstalling a WordPress Plugin?

The difference between deactivating vs uninstalling a WordPress plugin is quite simple.

When you deactivate a WordPress plugin, it is simply turned off. However, it is still installed on your website, so you can activate it again if you need to.

On the other hand, uninstalling a plugin completely deletes it from your website. You will not be able to see the plugin on the Plugins » Installed Plugins page.

If you want to reuse that same plugin, then you will have to install it again.

How to Uninstall a WordPress Plugin

WordPress makes it super easy to uninstall plugins from the admin area. Simply log in to your WordPress dashboard and go to the Plugins page.

You will see the list of currently installed plugins on your site. Your active plugins will be highlighted with a blue background.

If you want to uninstall an active plugin, then first you will need to deactivate it. After that, Click on the delete link below the plugin that you want to uninstall.

Delete WordPress plugin

WordPress will now ask you to confirm that you want to delete the plugin.

Confirm plugin deletion

You need to click on ‘Yes, delete these files’ button. WordPress will now safely remove the plugin from your web server.

That’s all you have successfully uninstalled a plugin from your WordPress site.

Some WordPress plugins leave traces of data and files even when they are uninstalled.

These items don’t have any significant impact on your WordPress site, but if you want to remove them, then here is how you would do it.

Removing unused shortcodes

Many WordPress plugins use shortcodes to easily add content to your posts or pages. Once you deactivate or uninstall a plugin, those shortcodes will become visible in your posts, and they look quite ugly.


You can easily disable shortcodes by adding the following code to your theme’s functions.php file or a site-specific plugin.

add_shortcode( 'pluginshortcode', '__return_false' );

This code basically adds the shortcode back and make it display nothing. Don’t forget to replace pluginshortcode with the shortcode tag used by the plugin you want to remove.

It is important to note, that you will need to remove this code if you ever decide to use that plugin again.

Cleaning up plugin traces from WordPress database

Some WordPress plugins create their own tables in the WordPress database. If these tables have too much data in them, then that would increase your WordPress backup size.

To clean these up, you need to launch the phpMyAdmin from your WordPress hosting dashboard.

phpMyAdmin icon in cPanel

You need to click on your database and then select the tables you want to delete. Below the tables list, you will see a drop-down labeled ‘With selected’. You need to click on the drop-down, and then select ‘Drop’.

Delete plugin tables

Next, you will see a warning that you are about to delete these tables. You need to click on Yes to confirm the action. Please note that it is irreversible, once deleted you will not be able to restore these tables unless you have a database backup.

Delete warning

PhpMyAdmin will now delete the database tables from your unused plugins.

Clean up unused WordPress plugin files

Often WordPress plugins create files and folders on your hosting server. These files are usually harmless, but can increase your WordPress backup size.

To delete them, you need to connect to your WordPress site using an FTP client. Once connected, you need to go to wp-content folder. You will find files and folders created by plugins inside the uploads and plugins folders.

Make sure that the files you are deleting are created by the plugin that you have uninstalled. After that, simply delete them from your web server.

Delete plugin files

Should You Keep Deactivated WordPress Plugins Installed on Your Site?

If you are not going to use those plugins, then you should not keep inactive or deactivated WordPress plugins installed on your website.

Inactive plugins don’t have any performance impact on your website. However, plugins contain executable files and can be used by hackers to hide malware or a backdoor.

Apart from security concern, they also increase your WordPress backup size, show up as false positive in security scans, and cause other issues.

This is why we always recommend users to delete inactive plugins from their site.

We hope this article helped you learn how to properly deactivate WordPress plugins. You may also want to see our article on how to choose the best WordPress plugin for your website, and our list of must have WordPress plugins.

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