Simple Way to Get Plugin Status in WordPress

Active plugin volcano.

Active plugin volcano.

I have previously written on how to determine if a widget is active. This is helpful for widgets, but not for plugins.

WordPress has a couple of different functions that help you determine plugin status. They are both located in wp-includes/plugin.php

  • `validate_plugin()` spits out an error if the plugin file does not  exist or has an invalid header. This lets you know that the file is there.
  • `is_plugin_inactive()` lets you know if the plugin is not active (using the `is_plugin_active()` function)

A function to get plugin status

Using these two functions, I put together a one-size-fits-all function `get_plugin_status()`.

The function returns `1` if the plugin is active; `2` if the plugin is inactive; `0` if the plugin is not installed.

 * Check the status of a plugin.
 * @param string $location Base plugin path from plugins directory.
 * @return int 1 if active; 2 if inactive; 0 if not installed
function get_plugin_status($location = '') {

	if(is_plugin_active($location)) {
		return 1;

	if(!file_exists(trailingslashit(WP_PLUGIN_DIR). $location)) {
		return false;

	if(is_plugin_inactive($location)) {
		return 2;

Usage example

$status = get_plugin_status('akismet/akismet.php');
switch($status) {
	case 1: echo 'Akismet is active.'; break;
	case 2: echo 'Akismet is installed but inactive.'; break;
	case 0: echo 'Akismet is not installed or active.'; break;

Update: `validate_plugin` was slow…

I changed from using validate_plugin because I was experiencing 300 milliseconds of processing time. This updated method is much faster.

Author: Zack Katz

Zack Katz is the creator of GravityView and the President of Katz Web Services. He lives in Denver with his wife and cute beast of a cat.

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