Web Development WordPress

Simple Way to Get Plugin Status in WordPress

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.

By Zack Katz

Zack Katz is the founder of GravityKit and TrustedLogin. He lives in Leverett, Massachusetts with his wife Juniper.