Yesterday, I updated the theme to the blog to the newer, and cleaner Twenty-Thirteen theme that comes with WordPress 3.6. Occasionally, I am asked what plugins I use with my WordPress installation, so I thought I’d answer the question with a post, listing out the plugins I use as of today. Keep in mind that I maintain a self-installed (WordPress.org) version of WordPress, and do not use WordPress.com. The latter may be more restrictive in terms of what plugins you are allowed to install.
Currently, I have 16 active plugins. I try to keep the list of active plugins to the bare minimum. I used to run a lot more, and there are probably a few that I could get rid of if I really wanted to. That said, here are the 16 I am currently using:
Basically, Akismet keeps the comment spam off the blog. It is virtually invisible, and yet it rarely lets through comments that are clearly spam. According to my Akismet stats, this plugin has single-handedly blocked over a quarter of a million pieces of comment spam on my blog since 2010. And it is free!
2. Drop Cap Shortcode
I like being able to use drop caps at the beginning of each post. There are some plugins that do this automatically, but they don’t give me enough control as to where I want to use a drop cap. With Drop Cap Shortcode, I can include a drop cap wherever I like. Not vital to the blog, but I think it improves the look and feel. It gives the blog character. Pun intended.
3. FD Feedburner Plugin
4. FD Footnotes
I like using footnotes every now and then1 and the FD Footnotes plug makes it easy to include footnotes in my posts by placing the footnoted text in square brackets. It handles everything else, including numbering, and which footnotes to display. I have tweaked the styles slightly so that the “Notes” you see at the end of the post look the way I want them to look, but otherwise, I use it out-of-box.
5. JetPack for WordPress
I do use JetPack and I’m torn on it. It slows the admin dashboard and admin functions down significantly. (There is no impact on the rendering of pages for visitors.) That said, JetPack offers enough useful features that I’ve stuck with it. I use the stats quite a bit, of course, although I also use Google Analytics. I use some of the enhancements for commenting, and I use the shortcode features. I also use the Publicize functionality in JetPack for the little “Share:” section you see at the bottom of each post.
6. Manual Control for JetPack
Manual Control for JetPack is a little plug-in that attempts to make sure that new features to JetPack aren’t turned on automatically. I use this mostly to keep the load down and make sure that I can manually turn on features in JetPack that I want to use, and that the features I don’t want stay off.
7. NextScripts Social Network Autoposter
When I make a blog post, a notice of the post is sent to several places: Facebook, my Facebook page, Twitter, Tumblr, Google+, etc. I used to have to do these manually. When I started using NextScripts Social Network Autoposter, it automated this process. The basic version allows me to automate notifications to Facebook and Twitter and Tumblr and some other places, but only for one account each. I upgraded to the Pro version (see below) and that added some additional functionality.
8. NextScripts SNAP Pro Upgrade Helper
With the Pro version of SNAP, I can now automatically send new blog post notices to Google+, which saves me time. I can also send to multiple accounts and pages, meaning I can send posts to my Facebook Author Page in addition to just my Facebook Page. After making I post, I used to have to take 2 or 3 three manual steps to get the notifications out to all of my social networks. With the Pro version of SNAP, the entire process is now automated, which saves me a lot of time.
9. Quick Page/Post Redirect Plugin
A while back, I reorganized the way some pages were categorized. In order to make sure the old links still worked, I grabbed the Quick Page/Post Redirect Plugin. This plugin redirects requests to a specific URL to a new page or post. Basically, it allows me to easily redirect people using old links on the blog to their new locations so that they don’t get 404 errors.
10. Social Media Widget
The Social Media Widget is a widget that allows me to put icons for all of my social networks, making it easier for people to connect with me. If you scroll down the page, toward the bottom of the sidebar, you’ll see this:
This is what the Social Media Widget adds.
11. Subscribe to Comments Reloaded
The Subscribe to Comments Reloaded plugin allows people to subscribe to posts and comments via email. Actually, since JetPack now includes this functionality, I think this is probably an OBE plugin, but I keep it around because quite a few people have subscribed through it and I don’t want them to lose their settings.
VaultPress is what I use to backup this site. It does real-time backups throughout the day, as things on the site change. It not only backs up the raw pages and files that make up the site, but it also does ongoing backups of the underlying database, as changes happen. This is an invaluable service. If anything ever went wrong with the site, I could restore from backup very quickly, without the worry of having lost data. I’m a big believer in having backups (I use CrashPlan for my computer backups at home). Backups are like an insurance policy for your data.
13. W3 Total Cache
I use W3 Total Cache in order to speed up the performance of the site for visitors. Slow loading sites can be a drag, and I want the site to be as quick and responsive as I can make it. I started using W3 Total Cache back in March and I think it has done a good job of improving the speed and responsiveness of the site.
14. WordPress Download Monitor
The WordPress Download Monitor is exactly what it sounds like, a tool for making it easy to control the download of files I make available on the site. I’ve used this for several things, for instance, my Scrivener Short Fiction Template. This particular plugin is no longer being developed, but since it keeps working, I keep using it.
15. WP Bit.ly
WordPress has the ability to automatically generate short links for posts. By default, it uses the wp.me shortlink. But you can use your own. The WP Bit.ly plugin lets me use my Bit.ly account to create short links for the posts automatically. The benefit is that when short links are created, I can track their use through Bit.ly the way I can when I create short links myself.
16. WP Google Fonts
Last, but not least, is the WP Google Fonts plugin. I use some custom fonts on the blog in both the H1 and H2 headers, as well as the body text. These are Google fonts and the fonts come from the WP Google Fonts plugin.
Those are the plugins that I use with my WordPress installation. I could probably cut the number down by two or three, but I’m happy with the site, and particularly happy with the way some of the plugins (like the SNAP plugin and VaultPress) automate things for me so that I don’t have to worry about them.
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