Magento is actually packed with many, many features so some might say that the software is complete right out of the box, but as the saying goes, nothing is perfect. For this reason, the Magento team created Magento Connect which is a marketplace of extensions.
There developers sell extension or offer them for free in hopes of getting some traffic to their sites or publicity or what ever…
So what do these extensions do? Well they further expand the capabilities of your Magento store. You can find all types of extensions in the marketplace. Everything from marketing to themes, utilities and more.
In the video below, I show you how I used Magento Connect to install a lightbox module which was created by Templates Masters. I actually selected the extension because it was free and compatible with my version of Magento — I’m glad I did because it’s pretty cool and much better than the stock popup module (or whatever you want to call it).
Can’t view the video? Watch it on YouTube
How to install
So to start simply pick out an extension from the Magento Connect marketplace and make sure that it’s compatible with your version of Magento. On the extension page, you will notice a button that reads ‘install now’. When you click this button, it will ask you for your Magento Connect version. Any store running Magento community version 1.5 and later, will use version 2.0.
Then click ‘get extension key’. After clicking this button, an extension key will appear (note that you must be logged into the marketplace to install an extension).
Be sure to read the installation instructions that are written on the extension page because there may be some extension specific instructions that may be required. The instructions below are general instructions (best practices) because each extension is different.
Simply copy that extension key and go to your store’s admin panel.
Now disable cache because most extensions require this. Simply go to “System > Cache Management” and disable cache. Remember to reenable cache once you’ve finished installing the extension.
The go to “System > Magento Connect > Magento Connect Manager”.
Login. Note that these are the same credentials that you use to login to your store’s admin panel.
Now paste the extension key that you copied earlier in the ‘paste extension key to install’ field and click install.
A new box will appear beneath the install field that should read “ready to install” in the status field. Now simply click on the “proceed” button.
You will see a black box at the bottom of the page. This black box provides information about the installation process. Once the extension has been installed successfully, you will see a message that reads ‘procedure completed’ and a refresh button will be located beneath it.
Click the refresh button to see the newly installed extension in the package name list.
Now you are ready to use your extension. How the extension is used, is specific to the extension and these instructions should be specified on the extension page or on the developer’s website.
Note that in the video, I got a 404 error when I tried to enable the light box by going to “System > Configuration > Templates-Master > Easy Lightbox” because I didn’t logout and log back into the admin panel. This was specified in the instructions which is why those instructions should be read carefully.