12 Surprisingly Useful WordPress Plugins You Don’t Know About

12 Surprisingly Useful WordPress Plugins You Don’t Know About

A swag of new WordPress plugins gets released every single day. While many are rehashes, integrations with external services don’t work or add to the ever-growing list of contact form generators, now and then there are some gems.

Here are several WordPress plugins that you don’t know about and therefore don’t even know that you need. (Well, probably don’t know about…)

This article demonstrates that, yes, there’s a plugin for just about anything.

They’re all interesting and offer various attributes, such as organization, information, display options, and more.

By the time you read through this, I feel you’ll discover at least one or two picks of the litter that will work great with your WordPress site.

  • Widgets as Shortcodes (OTWthemes)

    “Use WordPress default widgets as shortcodes.”

    Simple is often powerful and no better example than this plugin that makes all the default WordPress widgets (pages, calendar, archive, meta, search, text, categories, recent posts, recent comments, rss and tag cloud) available as shortcodes for including in posts and pages.

    Even better, are the configuration panels for each shortcode that pop open when you select the widget from the icon-activated menu in the visual editor, making the insertion of a shortcode ridiculously easy.

  • footnotes (media competence institute)

    “Time to bring footnotes to your website!”

    Truth is, I didn’t know it was that time until I stumbled across this plugin and then I was even more bemused to see that there are a plethora of footnote plugins.

    But this plugin got the nod because it seems comprehensive, easy to use and it has a cool photo on plugin repository page.

    Simply place your reference with the right mark-up (there are several options plus a button on the visual editor) next to the appropriate text and the plugin handles everything for you.

    Global configuration is easily managed through an option on the Settings menu but why the different styling of the menu title?

    The easiest way to Wikipedia-ize your posts.

  • Step by Step (Kyle Brown)

    “Create step-by-step instructions with images and display them on your post or pages in minutes.”

    If you find yourself regularly creating step-by-step instructions (and I imagine there’s plenty of WordPress blogs that do just that), then this plugin is going to help immensely.

    Powered by a new custom post type (called guide), it allows the steps to be added one-by-one (including an image) to create a full set of instructions.

    You’ll likely want to change the default formatting a bit but an indispensable plugin for this type of content.

  • Image Watermark

    “Automatically watermark images uploaded to the WordPress Media Library and bulk watermark previously uploaded images.”

    This plugin is perfect for photographers or anyone that licenses out their images.

    You can set the watermark transparency, select image quality, remove watermarks, and more.

    Typically when you think of watermarking an image, you don’t think of a plugin. That’s what stands out with this one.

  • Yoast Duplicate Post

    “Clone posts of any type, or copy them to new drafts for further editing.”

    I know I’ve personally had times where I wanted to duplicate a post. Specifically, sometimes I would run a sales page on my WordPress site, and I wanted all the material from a previous one, with a few minor adjustments.

    This plugin makes it easy to clone a post or page by simply hitting the ‘Clone’ button in the post/page title.

    It has a solid 5-star ranking and is as simple as it gets for cloning.

    Interested in Yoast Duplicate Post?

  • Easy Media Download

    “Gives your users the ability to download digital media files from your website.”

    Making it easy for your users to download content is why this plugin was created. You can create awesome-looking download buttons that instantly start the download when clicked.

    It’s great for music, video, and image files. The user can even pick what format to download in.

    For a free plugin for downloads, this seems like a solid choice.

    Interested in Easy Media Download?

  • Simple History

    “Shows recent changes made within WordPress, directly on your dashboard or on a separate page.”

    With this plugin, you can easily see who added, updated, or deleted a page or post. Plus, you can see who added attachments, taxonomies, and edited comments.

    It keeps organizing your WordPress site, especially for multi-users, a breeze.

  • Email Address Encoder

    “A lightweight plugin that protects plain email addresses and mailto links from email-harvesting robots, by encoding them into decimal and hexadecimal entities.”

    This unique plugin is an excellent solution to protecting posts, pages, comments, excerpts, text widgets, and other filtered content from spam.

    It’s free to use. However, you can upgrade to Premium for full-page protection, improved phone number protection, and more.

    Interested in Email Address Encoder?

  • Regenerate Thumbnails

    “Generate all thumbnail sizes for one or more images that have been uploaded to your Media Library.”

    This plugin is great for situations when a new thumbnail size has been added, and you’d like past uploads to have a thumbnail in that size, if you’ve changed the dimensions of an existing thumbnail, and if you’ve switched to a new WordPress theme that includes featured images of a different size.

    It can also delete old and unused thumbnails so that you can free up server space.

    Interested in Regenerate Thumbnails?

  • WP to Twitter

    “Post Tweets from WordPress to Twitter.”

    That’s not all. This plugin can also display our recent Tweets, display Tweets based on a search, and shorten URLs in your Tweets.

    If you upgrade to Pro, you’ll be able to schedule Tweets, set up automatic reposts, upload images, and more.

  • Swifty Bar, Sticky Bar

    “Boost your user engagement!”

    This plugin will add a sticky bar towards the bottom of posts that displays a category, post title, time to read, author, share buttons, and previous/next post links.

    It’s a good replacement for social share buttons because it can give your users a better experience and options.

    It also features a share counter, color options, and supports custom post types.

    Interested in Swifty Bar, Sticky Bar?

  • Simple Page Ordering

    “Order your pages hierarchical custom post types, or custom post types with “page-attributes” with simple drag and drop right from the built in page list.”

    This plugin features drag and drop functionality to put pages in the desired position. There are no new admin menu pages or clunky user interfaces.

    Interested in Simple Page Ordering?

An eclectic mix, I think you’ll agree. Each of these plugins offers something of value that may help enhance your WordPress site.


Now over to you. Have you seen a recently released plugin that's worthy of spruiking?

Chris Knowles

Chris Knowles A WordPress pro, Chris has a bent on hacking WordPress, content management, and online media.