ManageWP’s Top 100 Free WordPress Plugins of the Year

ManageWP’s Free WordPress Plugins of the Year

At the end of the day, WordPress lives and breathes by the huge variety of free plugins that are available for download from

Don’t get me wrong — I love premium plugins. But when it comes to starting off with WordPress, it is the free plugins that give you a taste of what is possible.

With the above said, it is no surprise that the Internet is flooded with “top x plugins” posts. Whilst such posts can be extremely useful, you often end up seeing the same plugins pop up from post to post. Back in February 2012, we decided to buck the trend by introducing a post series that highlights lesser-known plugins — “up and comers”.

Our Plugins of the Month series has proven to be extremely popular, and as such it seemed like a no-brainer to cap off 2012 with an inaugural Plugins of the Year feature.

2012’s Plugins of the Year

As with our recent Themes of the Year post, the inclusion criteria is pretty simple. Each plugin must:

Each of the plugins you see below has been handpicked from a carefully filtered list. Each and every one is a quality offering, and you’ve probably never heard of the majority.

They’re ranked by a combination of the number of downloads and average ratings. You can also click on the column headers to sort them by the number of downloads or the average rating (individually). Enjoy!

[table id=2 /]

My Top 10 Plugins of the Year

Throughout the course of 2012 I have checked out a huge number of plugins. The 100 you see above is just the tip of the iceberg — that was taken from a shortlist of 121, which in turn was taken from another shortlist of well over 1,000.

As I cast my eye over the plugins listed above many stand out to me. I feel that a select few deserve special recognition, which is why you will find below my personal top 10 plugins of 2012.

[table id=3 /]

To each developer of the above plugins I offer my sincere thanks for creating something that makes using WordPress even more enjoyable and rewarding.

Pay it Back

Free plugin developers give us so much in terms of additional functionality for our WordPress sites and get so little in return. If a particular plugin above has caught your eye, why not take a moment to leave a positive review on It will only take you a minute but will help the plugin developer receive more attention for his or her hard work.

Finally, I’d love to know if you feel that a particularly great plugin has been missed off the list — please share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Tom Ewer

Tom Ewer is the founder of He has been a huge fan of WordPress since he first laid eyes on it, and has been writing educational and informative content for WordPress users since 2011. When he's not working, you're likely to find him outdoors somewhere – as far away from a screen as possible!


  1. Vishal Kumar

    I think something is lacking, in this article. cant see the name of top 10.

  2. DCGee

    I read your website with excitement because I’m expected to develop a website and have procrastinated for much too long. When I got to the end of the article the Top Ten was not visible. There is a “table id=2 /]”. I hope you will fix this since I sincerely believe I can do this now with your step by step approach. Thank you. Here I go…

  3. Tom Merrill

    Great concept, unfortunately out of date. Which makes it pretty much meaningless. I came across several TOP plug-ins that WP flagged as problematic because they had not been updated in OVER TWO YEARS. No telling how close any of the remaining plug-ins are approaching that juncture. And how many other, great plug-ins are not on this list because they were created in the four years since this article was published.

    As a newbie to website creation, I would also have appreciated some kind of categorical identification of the plug-9ns. i.e.: how/where the plug-in is used: blog, appearance, security, etc.

    1. Nemanja Aleksic

      Hi Tom, this article was written back in 2012, so don’t take it at face value – some things don’t age well 🙂

      The good news is that we published a plugin discovery tool on our community project. You might find it useful:

  4. Michael

    Very useful guide. As a first timer this has given me great ideas on the must have plugins. Thanks

  5. Zoroo

    Nice and Informative Article on WordPress plugins, All the plugins are useful for a beginning of WordPress blog.

  6. branden

    Great blog post Tom I actually just wrote a similar post on my site would love it if you checked it out

  7. Luis

    Wow! I discovered lots of WordPress plugins that I haven’t known before. Thank you for your list. I’m installing some of them on my blog now.

  8. Miguel

    Great list of plugins. I scooped up a few off this list and I hope that they will improve my site. I get a lot of spam so I hope the plugins I found on this list will help. Thanks.

  9. MattWest

    Wow, such a useful list. another plugin that i find useful is the sendola contact details button. visitors click the button and get your contact details sent to their phone via sms. could be useful for some kinds of business. check it out.

  10. Umre

    I see that in this 100 wordpress plugins there are no plugins that refer to any video chat, and this is disappointing for me. These days a proper communication and entertainment are essential to a community. Why don’t you try to bring more people on your site with a video chat plugin for WordPress from AVChat Software. Of course , even if the chat is awesome , it can’t do miracles if it’s not used at it’s proper value. Try making shows every once a week, put some interesting videos in the chat, engage your users to use more and more the chat and after a while they will come to your website just for this interactivity and experience that only your site can offer. And they will bring other friends too. So why not try and enhance their experience with the new WordPress video chat from AVChat.

  11. Alexander

    Awesome list Tom! I just figured I’d add that I love Disqus and use it on client sites all the time. The integration of social services and advanced syndication features can really supercharge your comments. I’d also like to mention Relevanssi for anyone who needs a quick way to improve their WordPress search results. Once you set up the index, it returns almost perfect search results.

  12. Che Elvis

    Thanks for the great list. I wish to get the best free plugins that can facilitate creation of a job search site, where CV’s can be uploaded, and its easy to place salary range, deadlines etc. Also a good plug in for a forum in a site

  13. Rahul

    Well i have just started with my new blog and searching for the a good list of plugins to use…thanx for this list u made my work quite easier…:)

  14. Damian @ CJToolbox

    Just a quick message to thank Tom for creating such an interesting way to showcase plugins. Much appreciates Tom.

  15. angelwings1184

    Hi Tom,

    This is a really great list of plugins. I’ve been thinking
    about blogging and this really helps me out a lot. Just
    have to figure out which one I need to use. Thanks a lot.
    Hope your year is great.


    1. Damian @ CJToolbox

      I agree, this is a really great list of plugins.
      Thanks for the unique way of listing them. I really enjoyed it.


  16. Paula

    Hi Tom,

    These are some really amazing plugins. I’ve
    been thinking about starting a blog and now
    I’m really convinced that I should. Now the
    next thing is to figure out how many and
    which one should I use. Thanks again.

  17. redLodyas

    Long list of plugins, I just noticed they have a Lazy Load plugin now, I used to use that script on picture loaded HTML websites. Really awesome script IMO.

  18. Eyal Kaufman

    Hey Tom,
    My name is Eyal and I am the CEO of OnTheGo Systems the makers of Types.

    Thank you for choosing Types as No. 1 Free WordPress Plugin of the Year.
    During the year 2013, we plan to further improve Types and add great new features.
    We hope that WordPress users will like it.

    Have a great year


  19. Jason N.

    Excellent list here Tom. Don’t you ever worry about running too many plug-ins on a site?

    I feel like plug-ins are a blessing and a curse. I’ve had some issues over the past year with plugins breaking the site when WP updates. Hopefully this improves for 2013.

    1. Shea Bunge

      Hi Jason,

      Have a look at

      I have never had any trouble with WordPress breaking after an upgrade due to plugins. If you only choose plugins that you actually need, and those plugins are well-coded and backed by a dedicated developer, then you should be fine.

      1. Tom Ewer


        Beat me to it Shea 😉

  20. sikedestroya

    Really nice list of plugins… Bookmarked.. Cheers!

    1. Tom Ewer


      No problem 🙂

  21. Shea Bunge

    Thanks so much for including Code Snippets on the list, Tom. 😀

    Happy New Year!

    1. Tom Ewer

      My pleasure — same to you!

  22. James Mowery

    Now that’s what I call an incredible list! 😉

  23. MaAnna

    Thanks for the super lists, Tom. There are several in the big list that I want to check out for me and my clients.

    1. Tom Ewer


      Hey MaAnna,

      Glad you like them 🙂 Happy New Year!


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