I am looking for a way to install and activate plugins in QGIS without accessing the GUI. I have a QGIS instance running on a remote server where I run standalone Python scripts that process the data.

I would like to install a couple of plugins so that I can run their algorithms using processing.run(). Either a command line or from Python script solution would work for me.

I had no luck searching through the documentation.

Any suggestions?

2 Answers 2


IMO best way to install QGIS plugin is qgis-plugin-manager. This is usage example:

pip3 install qgis-plugin-manager
mkdir -p ~/.local/share/QGIS/QGIS3/profiles/default/python/plugins
cd ~/.local/share/QGIS/QGIS3/profiles/default/python/plugins
qgis-plugin-manager init
qgis-plugin-manager update
qgis-plugin-manager install "your_plugin_name"

And then maybe you need to activate plugin. To do this, you should find in file ~/.local/share/QGIS/QGIS3/profiles/default/QGIS/QGIS3.ini line [PythonPlugins] and enable your plugin below, for example:


If you don't know exact your plugin name, you can find it after installation on a line starting with:


For testing an approach, I arbitrarily chose "Append Features to Layer" and, with its link from plugins repository of QGIS:


by using following ariac command (aria package was previously installed in my GNU/Linux Debian):

aria2c -d /home/zeito/.local/share/QGIS/QGIS3/profiles/default/python/plugins https://plugins.qgis.org/plugins/AppendFeaturesToLayer/version/1.0.0/download/

it was successfully downloaded in plugin folder:


of my QGIS 3.12.1 as AppendFeaturesToLayer-1.0.0.zip. With command lines, I can unpack this zip file and run make, in plugin folder, for activating it before launching QGIS. So, I think it is possible to create a bash script for all process (downloading, unpacking and activating) for whatever plugin.

Editing Note:

With Python it was also possible. It's just a matter of making interactive following script.

from os import system

qgis_plugin_path = "/home/zeito/.local/share/QGIS/QGIS3/profiles/default/python/plugins"
qgis_plugin_repository = "https://plugins.qgis.org/plugins/AppendFeaturesToLayer/version/1.0.0/download/"

cmd = "aria2c -d " + qgis_plugin_path + " " + qgis_plugin_repository

  • 3
    While this approach is something that works, you need to know a lot besides the name of the plugin (i.e. current version) to get the correct link to download the file. I was wondering if there is a way to do something like QgsApplication.installPlugin("plugin_name).
    – Jan Caha
    Commented Mar 30, 2020 at 14:40
  • Only methods in QgsApplication with prefix 'install' are 'installEventFilter', 'installNativeEventFilter' and 'installTranslator'. You can search each one function.
    – xunilk
    Commented Mar 30, 2020 at 14:58

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