If when you’re doing research to fix some issue or looking at your competitor’s sites, you stumble upon a website that grabs your attention and ask yourself: “What plugins does this site use? And what theme is being used?” Today it’s time to finally get an answer. This post touches on on how to know what plugins a website is using. So, what’s running under the hood?
Remember that the following tips only work for ready-made themes and off-the-shelf plugins. Any custom design and custom-developed plugins might fall out of the scope of your research.
How do I find out what theme a website uses?
Checking the source code
If you wish to know what WordPress theme is a given website using, checking the source code is the best way to find it out. Here are all the needed steps you should take to accomplish that:
- Visit the desired website with your browser.
- Right-click anywhere on the page and select “Inspect” to get the specific source code of that page
- Look for the CSS file, usually called style.css and normally located in /wp-content/themes folder. To do it easily: just click cmd + F on Mac or ctrl+F on Windows and type “style.css”
- Double-click and copy the whole link in which the style.css is located in a new tab/window on your browser (see the image above)
- You should now be on the style file with the name of the WordPress theme right at the top, like this:
It doesn’t matter if you aren’t a coder, a developer or a web designer. The important thing here to understand is to locate the style.css file and find its URL via the source code view so you’re able to get to know its name and do some research on Google.
How do I find out what plugins a website uses?
There are several ways to find out what plugins a WordPress site uses, including checking the source code, taking an informed guess, asking in a forum, contacting the webmaster, and using third-party tools. The only caveat is that, in some cases, how to tell what plugins a WordPress site is using won’t be quick or easy the way it can be with themes. Let’s take a look at some ways to find plugins on a site.
With the source code Via the “Sources” tab in your browser
- Right click anywhere on the page and click inspect
Navigate to the Sources tab to get the structure of the target website
- Click the arrow next to the wp-content folder
- If that’s the case, click the arrow next to plugins folder
Look for the Class name and IDs with specific elements
- Just right-click on a single element of the page you like, for example, a nice opt-in form (like the example here)
- Look for ID= or Class= and take notes about what’s coming after either of them.
- Google those occurrences to find out the plugin that is enabling that neat feature.
Via HTML comments
With the source view enabled, look for the green lines of code, i.e., HTML comments, and you’ll likely find the plugin name without googling anything.
Taking an educated guess
There are only a certain number of popular plugins used for each functionality, and chances are the website you’re looking at is using one of those top choices. So, if you want to take an educated guess at what plugins are being used on a site, follow these steps:
- Check functionality: Look at the website’s features to determine what plugins can achieve those, i.e., photo galleries, review sliders, etc.
- Look at design: The design of a website can give you an idea of what plugins are being used. For instance, some plugins add social media share buttons to every page.
- Identify the CMS: if you can pinpoint whether the site is using WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, or another content management system, it’ll be easier to infer which plugins could be used.
Asking in a forum
There are a number of online forums that are perfectly appropriate for you to go to for support, where experts can help you brainstorm how to know what plugins a website is using. Here are a few to get you started:
- WordPress.org Support Forum. The WordPress community gathers here and makes this forum a great resource for WP-related questions
- Quora. The common Q&A platform will let you open the question to anyone around the world who can help you out.
- Reddit. There are lots of WP-related subreddits where you can get help from developers and users.
- Stack Exchange. This forum will let you post a site on web development-related topics and discuss potential plugins on a target website.
- Other online tech communities. Look at SitePoint, DigitalPoint, or WebmasterWorld, and you’ll find a large number of people ready to discuss web development with you.
Contacting the webmaster
The webmaster is the person who’s responsible for updating and maintaining a website which sometimes can be the owner, while others it could be a managed hosting company. To find out who the webmaster is for a site, look for contact information under the site’s “contact us” page or footer or do a WHOIS search. Once you find them, request the information by keeping these tips in mind:
- Be specific about what you want with the URL and page feature you’re interested in.
- Explain why you’re looking for the information, and be honest about your intentions.
- Be respectful, thank them for their time, and provide the information they need so they can help.
- Follow up within a reasonable time with a friendly reminder. A response isn’t guaranteed, or it could take a long time, but it’s one of the most direct options.
How do I find what plugins a website uses with third-party tools?
If the above options seemed a little overwhelming, there are other options
Yes, instead of looking up the code, there are several online tools built to “sniff out” what theme and plugins are running behind a site, together with some useful information about a target website.
Please consider that detected plugins are related to the specific URL of your scanning. Also, some of them will hardly show up with these tools, like those affecting your admin, for example.
Top 5 online tools to find themes and plugins on a site
Here are the five most used automatic tools to gather information about the desired website. They’re easy to use. You just paste the URL into their search bar:
WhatWPThemeisThat is a tool for how to tell what plugins a wordpress site is using as well as the themes on a WordPress site. Enter the URL, and you’ll get a list of detected themes and plugins on it.
WPThemeDetector is exactly what you’d think. A detector for themes and plugins on a site. You’ll get a list of the detected plugins and themes as well as other information.
3. What Theme
This free online tool also detects themes and plugins on a site and other information you could find useful.
On top of providing information about detected themes and plugins, this Kinsta tool gives you information about hosting, server, and other technical details, making it one of the most useful tools.
How the tools compare
The main differences here have to do with how quickly the results are shown to the user, with the number of detected plugins pretty similar.
The winning solution with automated tools: WP Theme Detector + BuiltWith
They both seem to provide consistent results, plus they provide some others besides that might be even “juicier”. I also tested Chrome extensions to see if they’d work.
Can you find out what plugins does this site use via Chrome extensions?
Short answer, no. Stay away from browser extensions, at least for the time being. Here’s why the extensions I found weren’t helpful:
This extension simply doesn’t work and can’t get you anything useful back. Plus, this recent review perfectly makes the point:
This extension was supposed to gather and show information about the theme and hosting provider used by the target WordPress website, but it didn’t show any of the hosting info for any of my test samples.
When trying this extension, I was able to get all the plugins only from one website, specifically from WP Tavern, so it didn’t stand out. Plus, reading some comments online looks like it’s no longer supported.
Can I hide the fact that my website runs on WordPress and all plugins I use?
If what you want is to hide information from hackers, this may not be the best option for improving your security, as obscurity isn’t always security.
Also, please consider that you won’t be able to hide all this information unless you literally spend a lot of time rewriting a gazillion lines of code or hire some (crazy) developer to do that for you. Anyway, if you’re still interested in hiding information and details about the fact that your website is running on WordPress, you should give a premium plugin called Hide My WP a try.
Use Your Research to Your Advantage
Automated tools aren’t the best way to find out about a theme or plugins for a target website accurately, but they could help some users. With a fast adoption rate like WordPress is living, such tools focused and built for people who don’t have any knowledge about code whatsoever are silently and quickly earning more attention than we’d think. And this proves automated tools aren’t completely useless. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
Many WordPress users who are either getting their first steps with this CMS or are non-tech entrepreneurs, they all have better ways to gather and get acquainted with data that otherwise would have been unknown, improving their knowledge around WordPress and, in some cases, enabling them to move forward with their business. Understanding “what plugins does this site use?” can keep you curious about how to update and improve your own. When you’re looking for design and development options for your WordPress, staying curious and using tools is a great way to get a clearer picture of what lies under the hood of other sites. For everything else, you can hire a WordPress developer on Codeable to create bespoke options for you.