Install Plugins for YOURLS

August 30, 2018

WHY PLUGINS? 

In the first post in this series on YOURLS, I explained how to install YOURLS. One of the advantages to using YOURLS as your evergreen link creator is that there are numerous plugins that extend the functionality of YOURLS. For example, there’s a plugin that allows you to bulk upload long URLs with a custom identifier.

One situation where this is helpful is the release of a new book. I assign custom identifiers to links to a book’s page at Amazon or iBooks so that I’ll know if the clicked link was placed in the back of Book 1, Book 2, etc. Without a plugin, I’d have to manually create each short URL. However, using the Bulk Upload and Shorten plugin, I put all of my long URLs in one column in a CSV file, put the custom identifier in a second column, upload the file into YOURLS, and I’m good to go.

Note, however, that this plugin doesn’t give you the option to assign a custom title to the links. I don’t know of any publicly available plugin that does this.

In this article, I’m going to walk you through how to install plugins for YOURLS using two methods, via cPanel’s File Manager and via a third-party FTP client such as FileZilla. 

HOW TO FIND PLUGINS

To find the list of available plugins for YOURLS, go to their home page yourls.org.

Now go to the YOURLS plugins tab.

Click on the link for Plugins List.

This takes you to the YOURLS main plugin page on Github.

Scroll down until you see the link to the plugin repository.

Click on the link to the repository.

Now scroll down until you see the alphabetical listing of the plugins. If you know the name of the plugin you want, you can skip ahead by clicking on the appropriate letter of the alphabet from the list.

Otherwise, scroll through and read the descriptions to see if any of the plugins appeal to you.

Here are my three favorite plugins:

Bulk Upload and Shorten - Mentioned above.

YOURLS Import and Export (Listed under I, not Y) - This exports the custom identifier for the YOURLS link (aka the part after the domain address), the associated long URL, and the number of hits that link has received. The export is a CSV file. However, this plugin only imports long URLS. That's why I only use this plugin to export my short links into a CSV file for backup. I don't use it for importing because it doesn’t allow me to assign custom short codes to the long URLs that I'm importing. I also used this when moving YOURLS from one host to another.

Popular Clicks Extended - Shows me which links have been clicked the most often during a specific time period.

DOWNLOAD THE PLUGIN

Once you’ve decided on a plugin to install, click on the plugin’s link.

You’ll be taken to the Github page for that plugin.

Since I’ve already installed the plugins listed above, I clicked on the link for the Check URL plugin. Here’s their Github page:

Github Check URLs page

Some plugin pages will provide you instructions on how to install them.

If not, go up to the green button that says Clone or Download.

Click the down arrow.

Choose Download ZIP.

Github Clone or Download Button

Save the file to your preferred location on your computer.

Now find the file on your computer and unzip it. On my Mac, this means double-clicking the zipped file.

A folder will appear.

In this case, it says yourls-check-url-master.

Open that folder.

Inside is a check-url folder that contains the plugin.php file.

This check-url folder is the folder we care about. Not the master folder.

Unzip the plugin folder

INSTALL THE PLUGIN USING cPANEL

Log in to your web host and go to your cPanel.

Click on File Manager.

File Manager on cPanel

If you installed YOURLS directly into the root folder, go to public_html/user/plugins.

If you installed YOURLS in a directory, go to public_html/name of YOURLS directory/user.

YOURLS comes installed with a few sample plugins, so there is already a plugins folder.

Since cPanel doesn’t allow you to upload a folder, you need to add a new folder to your plugins directory before you upload the plugin's php file.

Create a new folder inside the plugins folder by clicking the +Folder option in the menu bar.

Give it the same name as that unzipped folder that contains the plugin’s php file. In this case, I’ll call it check-url.

YOURLS Plugin Folder in cPanel

Once the folder has been created, click on it to open it.

Now use the Upload option to upload the plugin.php file.

Inside the plugin folder in cPanel

The install is done!

INSTALL THE PLUGIN USING FTP

If you’d rather not log in to your cPanel, you can install plugins via FTP.
Log in to your FTP client. I use FileZilla.

In the section that shows the list of local files on your computer, locate the unzipped plugin folder.

Click on the folder one level higher in the hierarchy than that folder in order to show its contents. So, in my example below, in the top left panel, I clicked on the yourls-check-url-master folder. That caused the lower panel to show the check-url sub folder.

This check-url folder is the one we’re going to drag over to the YOURLS plugins folder.

In the panel that shows the files on your web host, navigate to the YOURLS plugins folder.

If you installed YOURLS directly into the root folder, go to public_html/user/plugins.

If you installed YOURLS in a directory, go to public_html/name of YOURLS directory/user/plugins.

Drag the plugin folder from your local files, in my case the check-url folder, to the plugins folder. Because this is FTP, you’re dragging the entire folder and its contents, which is the php file.

Using FTP to install a plugin

Once the transfer is complete, you can log out.

The install is now complete.

ACTIVATE THE PLUGIN

Log in to your YOURLS admin dashboard.

Click on Manage Plugins.

Once you’re on the Manage Plugins page, find your newly installed plugin in the main list of installed plugins.

Hover your cursor over the right column. The word Activate will appear. If you’ve already installed a plugin it will say Deactivate.

YOURLS Manage Plugins Page

Click on Activate.

Now your plugin is live.

If your plugin can run without your input, such as Check URL, then it won’t be listed in the upper left Manage Plugins list (the target of the green arrow in the above image).

If you’ll need to provide input to the plugin, such as telling Bulk Import and Shorten which file to import, then the plugin will show up in that list.

That’s it. You’re done!

In Summary

Plugins add additional functionality to YOURLS, giving it an advantage over many other link shorteners.

NEXT UP

In the next post in this series, I’ll explain how to use YOURLS to create your evergreen links.

Until then, Happy Writing!

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