WordPress Plugin

6 WordPress Plugins I Can’t Live Without

WordPress Plugins: Those delicious little nuggets of functionality that someone else took the time to code.

These are the plugins that make the cut on just about every site I do:

Genesis Simple Hooks

In one fell swoop, I can do all but one of the following: install Google Analytics, change the default footer text, and change all the clocks over for daylight savings (okay, I can’t really do that, but you can do it manually). I love this plugin so much I even dedicated a post to 3 Great Uses for Genesis Simple Hooks earlier this year. (Note: You must have the Genesis Framework installed to use this plugin)


It’s free for personal, non-commercial use. It comes pre-installed with WordPress. All you have to do is head over to the Akismet site, set up an account, and create a key to activate it and you’re auto-magically saving yourself a LOT of spam. Do it. And give that guy a beer while you’re at it.

Gravity Forms

I know there’s a bajillion contact form plugins out there, but I like this one because it’s quick and easy to set up, not to mention it meets the basic contact form needs of the average website. It even let’s you create an interface for users to upload documents to you via form email. That may not sound impressive to you, but I had to code those forms with my bare hands back in the day, so I think it’s a nice feature.

Where Gravity Forms really shines is with its impressive selection of add-ons that enable you to integrate with payment systems, site user registrations, custom post types, and more.


Backups are like seat belts – you hope you never have to use them, but if you do, you will be beyond thankful that you had them! ManageWP does a lot more than just backups, but that’s one of the features and you can stash your backups just about anywhere (Dropbox, Amazon S3, Google Drive, etc.) They’re all safe and secure should I ever need to re-install or recover my data.

Google XML Sitemaps

I use Google Analytics in conjunction with Google’s Webmaster Tools. There’s a spot in the latter where you can upload an XML sitemap of your site. If you’ve changed your permalink structure or, heck, just want to make sure Google’s seeing the pages you want indexed, set up this nifty plugin!

Regenerate Thumbnails

This one is priceless if you’re changing your blog over to a new theme. Install it, run it once to update all your images, and then ditch it. That’s right, I use you like a cheap whore, Regenerate Thumbnails. But I do genuinely love you.

What are the WordPress plugins you can’t live without?

p.s. Some of the links above are affiliate links, but I never use affiliate links unless it’s a product I use and love.

11 thoughts on “6 WordPress Plugins I Can’t Live Without”

  1. Tons! There are tons of plugins I cannot live without but I’ll mention here the one I’ve discovered today: Quick Adsense. it rocks!
    I also use Gensis Simple Sidebars – just brilliant.
    Other good plugins are SEO Friendly Images, SEO Smart Links and the father of all plugins, Yoast’s WordPress SEO Plugin.

    1. I’ve started using the Yoast SEO plugin since this post (awesome!!). I think it eliminates the need for the Google XML sitemaps, so I may need to update. 🙂

      I love the simple sidebars as well. Not familiar with Quick Adsense, but thanks for the tip!

  2. Hello,

    My list is actually quite small, and they all are premium.
    1. Gravity Forms (http://wpsmith.net/go/gravityforms, affiliate link) – Replaces Fast Secure Contact Form
    2. BackupBuddy (http://wpsmith.net/go/backupbuddy, affiliate link) – Replaces your WordPress Database Backup

    Those I have installed on every install (I have a script that will actually install WordPress, install Genesis, install my child theme and these two plugins.). Now I have niche plugins that I use for this and that, or I simply code the plugin myself. Fun times!

    Thanks, @wp_smith

    1. I like the auto-install script. 🙂 You’ve got a nice stack of plugins to your name. I’m using several of them across various sites. Thanks for the goodies!

  3. Carrie,

    I’m interested to know more about this ‘auto-install’ script that you and Travis had some dialogue about. I’d about kill for something that will perform all those type installations at once.



  4. HI Carrie, I’m a newbie with Genesis, thanks a lot for all your precious tips!
    A question I can’t find anywhere an answer: if I use Yoast Seo plugin, how can I set SEO for the home page? Every Genesis child theme have a widgetized home page made by a php file and not from a usual WordPress page. Yoast doesn’t “see” it!

  5. Carrie, I’m unnaturally dependent on What the File. I don’t look at it as much as I did a few months ago, and I really wish it were better about template parts, but for now it’s still my security blanket.

    Especially when I’m mucking about in WooCommerce.

    1. Oh, that’s a great utility! I typically use Query Monitor (it includes some info about the template), but I can see how WtF (hee hee) would be great when working with unfamiliar themes/plugins.

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