Install Eclipse Plugins – The Easy Way

Eclipse, Featured, Programming

Eclipse as of today is the industry’s major non-Microsoft software tool platform. The number of companies adopting this platform is a testimonial of the platform’s success.

(Check my previous post for more on the history of Eclipse IDE)

Eclipse has a well-designed, and extensible architecture. What is valuable about Eclipse is that it provides an open source platform for creating an extensible integrated development environment. This platform allows anyone to build tools that integrate seamlessly with the environment and other tools.

The key to the seamless integration of tools with Eclipse is the plug-in. With the exception of a small run-time kernel, everything in Eclipse is a plug-in. This means that a plug-in you develop integrates with Eclipse in exactly the same way as other plug-ins.

Any new person who is introduced to Eclipse in concerned with one important question : How to Install Eclipse Plugins ?

There are lot of useful, high quality third party plugins available and all the plugin installation instructions specify at most 2 ways to install Eclipse Plugins

Normal Ways of Installing Eclipse Plugin

I will take the Eclipse Webtools Plugin to describe the 2 “normal” ways of installing Eclipse Plugins. In the next section I will show how the same can be done in a “easy” way.

This is how the Eclipse SDK folder structure looks like:

After extracting the Webtools package you have this folder hierarchy:

One of the common method of installing is to copy the contents of the “features” into the “features” folder of eclipse, and do the same with the “plugins” folder.

The other way of installing, which Eclipse also recommends is via the Update Manager.

You can choose the components you wish to install, choose the dependent plugins etc. In this process, generally you select the default installation location specified by the wizard.

The advantage with this approach is that when you select a component you are also made aware of the dependent plugins that needs to be installed. For e.g. If I select Web Tools, I am also told to select/install GEF

The disadvantage with this approach is that it never works well in a low bandwidth environment. I have struggled so many times to install via update manager, somewhere its gets stuck and I am left with a partially installed, corrupted environment.

The Easy Way

Now for the “Easy” way of installing Eclipse Plugins. Very few people are aware of this concept and Eclipse somehow doesn’t seem to document this approach anywhere.

This method uses the concept of “Links”. Here is the step by step procedure. (In the explanation I have used the installation of Webtools as the example)

1. Create a folder named links inside the eclipse folder (See Picture below)

2. Create a new file inside this folder and name it as say Note that the file name can be any valid string, but the extension has to be link.

3. Assuming that I have copied the Web tools into D:\thirdparty as shown below,

the contents of has to be this:


Points to Note:

  • The string should always start with “path=” keyword.
  • The path should point to a directory which has a “eclipse” folder which in turn has “features” and “plugins” as sub-folders
  • It is recommended to use forward slash ‘/’ in the path (If you want use Backslash, see that you use the escape character i.e. in Windows it should be “\”)
  • The file extension should end with “link
  • The file (i.e in our example) should exist in the “links” folder.
  • It is recommended to create link files only for big plugins/applications. For small plugins you can create just one link file, say and copy all the small plugins to the path referred by this link.

Restart Eclipse and now all the plugins and feature descriptions should be read from the path referred by the “link” files.


Eclipse has a lot of top level and technology projects. To experiment with these projects, the “links” concept comes to the rescue. You can extract the plugin to a “thirdparty” (or a folder of your choice) and just link it within the eclipse installation. My current configuration looks like this:

Eclipse Projects/Third Party Plugins

Corresponding Link files

The “Copy” approach just bloats the eclipse installation and you cannot remove/uninstall the plugin easily. With links approach, you can just remove the “link” file and the plugin is uninstalled !!

The same links directory can be used in another eclipse installation. For e.g. if you are working with Milestone or different version of Eclipse, you can just copy the links folder (containing .link files) and the plugins are installed.

It is very easy to manage different versions of a plugin. If a new version doesn’t work, reverting back to a previous version is pretty easy.

Also, if you use the update feature in Eclipse, you can choose one of the above folders as the installation directory.


This approach seems to work fine in both windows and linux. I am not sure why this approach is not documented in Eclipse. I found out about this when I was using the trial version of RAD (Rational Application Developer). It was used primarily to manage product extensions. I believe the same concept can be used to manage plugins (Install/Uninstall).

Using Dropins to install Eclipse plugins

One of the problems with the above “link” approach is the plugin dependency resolution. This has to be take care of manually by the plugin installer. If the install is done via the UI, it manage to find and install all the dependencies.

Staring from Eclipse 3.4, Eclipse SDK has a new provisioning system called Equinox/p2.

p2 supports the notion of watched directories and this directory a user or a script can drop “files”. Eclipse platform ships with one such default watched directory called dropins

The dropins folder is configured to be scanned during startup, and for changes to be immediately applied to the running system. Thus the dropins folder can be used much like the plugins directory was used in the past.

A subtle twist on old behavior here is that plug-ins and features added to the dropins folder are properly installed into the system rather than being forced in. This means p2 has an opportunity to confirm that the new plug-in doesn’t conflict with other installed plug-ins, and it can even go out and fetch any missing prerequisites of the newly dropped in plug-ins.

This also means you can later use the GUI to install extra functionality that depends on the plug-ins in the dropins folder, since p2 knows about them and can reason about their dependencies. In other words, new plug-ins installed via the dropins folder behave exactly like plug-ins installed via the user interface.

Supported dropin formats:

1. You can just drop the plugin jar in the dropins folder

2. You can also drop in the traditional Eclipse application or extension layout directly in the dropins folder

3. You can add an additional layer of folders immediately below the dropins folder that contain traditional Eclipse extensions

4. Or you can add link files as in the Eclipse links folder

Hope this post was useful, if you had any problems using this approach, do leave a comment with the problem description.

Thanks to Bryan Solan for the Dropins reference.

111 comments… add one

  • Hornburg Aug 24, 2006

    help > software updates > manage configuration then righ click on “Eclipse SDK” add > extension location

    it’s kinda faster

  • Venu Aug 24, 2006

    Hornburg, yes it might be faster by adding extension location. But if the scenario is working between multiple versions of eclipse and multiple versions of plugin, then u can easily move around the plugins.

    If you are doing it one time, I guess the “add extension location” makes more sense.
    A visitor pointed me to this article which explains this concept

  • Philippe Aug 24, 2006

    FYI, i am one of the maintainers of an eclipse distros called EasyEclipse which install all its plugins like that.

  • venukb Aug 24, 2006

    Philippe, checked EasyEclipse Pretty nice..But I didnt get by what you meant by “that” you use links concept or the Extension location concept ?

  • Bhaskar G Sep 22, 2006


    This is a nice article.
    How do I used environment variables in the .link file.

    can I use the following


  • Venu Sep 22, 2006

    Bhaskar, thatz an interesting question ! I have not used eclipse on unix environment, if it works it will be great. Can u check it and let me know !

    I will check on windows,but my feeling is that it might not work otherwise IBM should have used this quirk on their RAD installation :)

  • Bhaskar G Sep 25, 2006

    Hi Venu,

    I have tested this. This feature is not working.


  • Venu Sep 27, 2006

    Thanks Bhaskar, for checking on that..
    I guess we have to manage with the “famous” copy paste mechanism :)

  • William Nov 21, 2006


    This is an excellent article.

    It might not be an easier way to install eclipse plugins, but for sure it is a better way to install and maintain eclipse plugins.


  • venukb Nov 23, 2006

    Thanks William, i do agree creating and setting up those links is a little pain, but once its in place its not that difficult to move/edit these files :)

  • Daivd Farrell Dec 1, 2006

    I’ve been using this technique for ages. I discovered it after installing MyEclipseIDE and seeing how it installed.

    A couple of slight additions:

    * EVERY plugin folder contains the version in its name so I can easily track multiple versions

    * I keep a copy of each .link file in the /thirdparty folder so I can quickly select and copy the plugin’s I want and paste them into Eclipse’s /links folder. It also helps prevent typo’s because you only have to get it right once.

    * The .link files have the EXACT same name as the plugin folder.

    Hope that helps,


  • Venu Dec 1, 2006

    I don’t completely agree on the first point, its not mandatory for a file name to have version.

    Second point regarding keeping the link files in the thirdparty folder is a nice idea :)

    And .link file name can be ANYTHING .. as I have mentioned in the post, it can be any valid file name and it doesn’t need to match the name of any plugin folder

  • Philippe Dec 19, 2006

    > venukb wrote on August 24, 2006 @ 10:12 am
    > you use links concept or the Extension location concept
    we use both:
    – all plugins are packaged with an eclipseextension
    – at install time a link file is created with the installer

  • Roman Porotnikov Dec 22, 2006

    I use several Eclipse configurations with the same Eclipse install and so run Eclipse with different values of “-configuration” parameter. Different configurations may have different sets of plugins, including different versions of the same plugin that would conflict if installed in the same configuration. For such case, I believe the only way to go is to use extension locations, because links are shared between configurations and extension locations are not. Nevertheless, I have several plugins shared among all the configurations I use, so links-based approach will simplify the process of management of such shared plugins.

  • Venu Dec 23, 2006

    Hi Roman,
    I have read about the -configuration argument, however I have never found out a way to use it properly. I tried “googling” around but couldn’t find much. How is that argument used ?

  • Roman Porotnikov Dec 26, 2006

    When setting up the new configuration I just copy the “configuration” folder from the eclipse install to another location and then launch eclipse like “eclipse -configuration new_config_dir”. So, info related to all the plugins I add via configuration manager is stored in the new_config_dir instead of the eclipse/configuration. I repeat the procedure with another directory when I need a different set of plugins.

  • Venu Dec 27, 2006

    Nice :) never realized you could handle plugins that way also.. will try it out. Thanks :)

  • anitsirK Jan 30, 2007

    Has this links folder and links file technique been used successfully by anyone on any of the Rational version 7 line of products?

    I can enable my plugin using the “add an extension location” GUI operation, but RSA, RSM and RAD appear to completely ignore the links folder.

  • Rajesh Feb 4, 2007

    I installed a plugin using software help->Software updates ->find and install link in RAD. How do I uninstall it?

  • Kevin Roche Feb 16, 2007

    This looks ideal for me as I want to try several plugins before deciding which ones to use. Unfortunately it seems to work some of the time but not all of the time.

    I tried the technique with CFEclipse and Aptana and they work well, but JSEclipse did not show up as a perspective when I tried that. Should it or does it work some other way?

    Also wnted to use XML Buddy but it did not seem to have the right directories when I unzip the distro.

    Any ideas?

  • venukb Feb 17, 2007

    Hi Kevin,
    I have loaded lots of plugins using this approach and none have failed. Even if they have, its because of my mistake in not conforming to the folder layout.

    The .link file should point to a directory which has eclipse directory and this eclipse directory should have plugins and features folder.

    Some of the places where you might make a mistake
    1. Path name given in the link file (Also note that the path should have forward slash /)
    2. Directory structure not in proper format

    If both of these are fine, then your plugin might not be loading because of some missing dependent plugins. Start eclipse with a -clean option and check Error Log View in Eclipse. You should find logs if any plugin is not loaded properly.

  • hima bindu Mar 6, 2007

    RAD is not displaying installed plugin:(

    i installed the “metrics plugin”(web: to find the code metrics in RAD.

    Usually after installation in Eclipse, i will select a project and right click on it to see the ‘properties’ and ‘Enable Metrics’ in that view. But in RAD 6.0.1 (Eclipse version 3.0.2) it is not working.

    Can anyone verify this? Kindly tell me how to solve this problem, as i have to run the metrics plugin in RAD 6.0.1.

  • hima bindu Mar 6, 2007

    hima bindu
    Mar 6th, 2007 at 12:48 pm

    by the way, your method works fine in eclipse (3.1) but in RAD eclipse it doesnt.

  • anitsirK Mar 6, 2007

    To hima bindu: This method doesn’t work in Rational 7 products because IBM disabled it. I found this link with alternate methods, when I was trying to get this to work on those products:

  • hima bindu Mar 7, 2007

    hi anitsirK ..
    i was talking about version 6 of RAD… can u plz tell me whether this works for version 6 also??

  • anitsirK Mar 7, 2007

    hima bindu:

    Yes, it does. If you look in the …\IBM\Rational\SDP\6.0\eclipse directory (assuming you’ve installed to the default location), there’s a links folder already there, and IBM actually has several files in there when you first install the product ( for example). Put your .link files in there, and it should work, as long as your plugins work on RAD 6.

    In the version 7 line (RSM, RAD, RSA), this no longer works. Why IBM seems to like removing features, then selling it as an upgrade, I’ll never understand.

  • alex Apr 12, 2007

    hi nice site.

  • [tourist].Tam May 17, 2007

    just tried and did a fresh install after having read this post (and a few other on the topic). And I couldn’t have the “windows” way to write the path to work….

    But it works fine ^_^


  • venukb May 17, 2007

    And I couldn’t have the “windows� way to write the path to work….

    Tam I didnt understand this part of your comment. Did you have any trouble with “links” approach ?

  • Kevin Roche Jul 4, 2007


    I tried your suggestions to understand why the JSEclipse plugin is not working but can’t see any problem with the .link file or athe way the path is written. It’s just like the others and they all work.

    I have decided that it is probably that it was built for Eclipse 3.1 and I am using 3.2. I guess I have to wait for a new version.

  • venukb Jul 4, 2007

    Kevin, I tried to test it out, but seems like its acquired by Adobe and requires some login to download.

    Anway, the only way to find out whether the plugin is loaded is via the “Error Log” view. It will report if the plugin failed to load and also the reason
    (like some API mismtach or dependent plugin missing etc)

  • Jay Jul 29, 2007

    Does anyone know how to install eclipse v3.3 in RAD 7.0.
    Currently it uses eclipse v3.2

  • Tavo Aug 1, 2007

    i have a question… the Tail plugin for Eclipse (version 0.5.0), works in eclipse 3.2.2 with MyEclipse 5.5.1 GA?.
    I have a copy and a tried to install but don’t work.
    Sorry for my english.
    Bye bye.

  • steve Aug 15, 2007

    It doesn’t work for me with the Subclipse plug-in and there is no error log report for it.

    It installed fine with the update manager. What I did notice was that when installing with the update manager I had to agree to license conditions before installation. Could the lack of license agreement be what the link method is getting blocked by without reporting an error?

  • Venu Aug 15, 2007

    I do remember that RAD has a distinct folder which has the base Eclipse SDK. However I wouldn’t recommend changing that, since the plugin’s based on Eclipse 3.2 might no longer work with 3.3 (If there are API changes)

    The Tail Plugin is very old and was last updated on Nov 18 2003. Probably the plugin api no longer works with Eclipse 3.2.2. When you start Eclipse, have a look at the “Error Log” view. The view shows details on plug-in load failures.

    Meanwhile check on this post for an alternative way of Tailing Log files on Windows

  • Venu Aug 15, 2007

    The license page in the update wizard pops up for every plugin installed via the update mechanism.

    To test out, I downloaded the Subclipse plugin from this URL:

    extracted the contents and copied it to a folder structure like this.


    I also created a “link” file pointing to the Subclipse folder <code>path=D:/europa/subclipse</code> and I was all set. I could configure settings via the SVN preference page and also switch to the SVN perspective.

    As mentioned in the post, one thing to note is the folder hierarchy. For E.g. If you have forgot to create a “eclipse” folder inside “Subclipse”, the plugin would never load.

  • jim wallis Aug 28, 2007

    I’m doing something wrong and would appreciate an extra set of eyeballs to get this installation method moving forward.
    I have a very simple jar file that, when, copied to the eclipse/plugin directory, works perfectly.
    Just to keep it simple, the jar file only contains the META-INF/MANIFEST.MF file, the content xml file, and the
    plugin xml file.

    As per the instructions, I did the following:
    under: eclipse/links/ is

    under C:\tpplugins\aaa I did the following:
    created C:\tpplugins\aaa\eclipse\features and C:\tpplugins\aaa\eclipse\plugins

    in the folder C:\tpplugins\aaa I did the following:
    copied the jar file.
    extracted the jar file so that I had:
    C:\tpplugins\aaa\META-INF\MANIFEST.MF file

    Restarted Eclipse. No errors messages were encountered on startup and nothing was logged in error log file.
    Tried all combinations of the above files. Just the jar file, just the files themselves, and all files.
    The files were not listed under the help>> cheatsheets.
    Any ideas? Thank you in advance.

  • venukb Aug 28, 2007

    Jim, with eclipse 3.2 and above, you don’t need to extract the JAR file.

    You should copy or extract to the following path

    you seem to be extracting at c:\tpplugins\aaa which is wrong.

  • jim wallis Aug 29, 2007

    Bingo!! I feel like Uncle Eddie in Christmas Vacation.
    Here is what worked.
    Copied jar file to C:\tpplugins\aaa\eclipse\plugins.
    Restarted Eclipse.
    The world was right again.
    I wanted to locate where I had problems with the original directions.
    I think it was with step #3 in the original article.
    It says, “Assuming that I have copied the Web tools into D:\thirdparty as shown below”, etc…
    I certainly didn’t get it.
    Well what was copied and, really, where was it copied?
    Better would be “Copy jar file to C:\tpplugins\aaa\eclipse\plugins”
    Venukb, I can’t thank you enough. Your reply made a difference. I was ready to throw in the towel.
    Thanks again,

  • venukb Aug 29, 2007

    Jim, Glad you got it working :)

    I did re-read the post again. If you notice, I do mention WTP package and its hierarchy before staring with the steps.

    Irrespective of this, I will definitely change point 3; I myself was confused a little bit by the ordering.

  • Gold Sep 11, 2007

    […] Install Eclipse Plugins – The Easy Way? ????. ?? ?? ??? ???? ? ???? ??. […]

  • Thell Sep 27, 2007

    How do the feature loading methods (update, .eclipseextension, .link) differ from the plugin perspective?

    When using the update manager duplicate plugins don’t seem to be downloaded and versions are checked, so when you restart eclipse it doesn’t spend wasted time trying to load a plugin that has already been loaded.
    When using the .eclipseextension; if there exists a plugin in the eclipse/plugins folder that also exists under the eclipse folder pointed at be the .eclipseextension eclipse seems to go through and verify it isn’t already loaded and if it is it writes to the error log.

    Still trying to learn how the loading mechanism works…

  • Renato Brazioli Sep 29, 2007

    It works fine on Mac OS X 10.4



  • Avinash Oct 19, 2007

    Nice article Venu

  • Kamal Oct 30, 2007

    When I try to add subclipse 1.2.4 as an extension through Manual Installation, (Subclipse->eclipse->has plugin and features folders); it says there must be a .eclipseextension file which is not there. Do we have to create it by ourselves?

    But when I followed the links path, it works fine.

  • awaka Nov 6, 2007

    Thank you for your article.
    I’m trying to create a links folder with link files inside for an exported RCP application (I export my application with the eclipse wizard and then I create manually the folders).
    It seems it doesn’t work…
    Have you already tried to do that?
    Thank you very much.

  • Romain Feb 26, 2008

    Thank you very much for this article. Very useful.

    Interestingly, I discovered in the Eclipse 3.3 sources that you can prepend the actual path in the .link files with “r ” or “rw ” to create read-only or read/write (default) sites, as in:


    Hope this helps

  • Romain Feb 26, 2008

    “Greater than” and “lesser than” signs were removed. The syntax is:

    path=r /path/to/…

  • Rama Mar 10, 2008

    I am unable to install for some reason. I was trying to install Hibernate Tools. Am I missing something here. I have eclipse 3.3.2 installed on my machine. Do I have install something more or am I missing something here??

  • venukb Apr 2, 2008

    Yes if you are using the extensions mechanism you should refer to this post

    Thanks very much for that input. Will update the article with this info.

    What is the error that you see ?

  • Octavius May 10, 2008

    About the JSEclipse plug-in I tried the method described here to load it from a third party plug-ins folder and the first time the plug-in loaded just fine. After a workbench restart I saw the plug-in didn’t load at all and went to the config manager just to see that the plug-in was disabled.
    What I did next was enable it and restarted the workbech once again to what it was disabled again. I repeated the process but instead of restarting the workbench I just applied the changes without any restart and the plug-in is working just fine.
    Any ideas why this happens? Does JSEclipse conflicts with any other feature?
    Hope this might help a bit.
    Nice article by the way.

  • Mohammad Jun 6, 2008

    Very good way and it worked with me well.
    But what if I copied whole the eclipse root directory to another location (by a flash memory or shared it on a network) I guess that we have to:
    (1). All plug-ins must be copied
    (2). Strings 0f the corresponding link files (in the link folder) must be changed according to the corresponding plug-in new position.
    Am I right?

  • Venu Jun 7, 2008

    Apologies for the late reply. Regarding JSEclipse even Kevin also had a similar trouble.
    So I went ahead and tried installing JSEclipse using Links. When I fired up eclipse, saw a message in the Error log saying “could not find feature.xml”.
    I am out of touch with eclipse from some time, but for some reason, eclipse could not find the feature.xml which was in the archive (feature jar file). I extracted the contents and deleted the archive and restarted eclipse, seemed to work fine !

    Try it and let me know if it worked for you.

    Even if you move the entire eclipse directory, there is nothing to be done since the links point to the same external directories. Note that you should ideally keep the extension folders out of Eclipse directory !

    If you do rename or move the link folders themselves, as you have pointed out you need to update the string.

  • Ferii Aug 20, 2008

    Link concept works fine for me on Mandriva 8.1. My experiences:
    I use
    where my eclipse directory is the root.
    works also. So you can use environmental variables. I disable plugins renaming *.link file to *.link_

    Thanx, Venu. Live long and prosper!

  • Mohammad Sep 3, 2008

    Thanks Venu, Keep Up the Good Work !

  • JM Maranan Dec 8, 2008

    Hi Venu,
    This approach seems ok but it is not appropriate for a portable Eclipse installation (I carry my Eclipse + Workspace on a portable harddrive). The Update Manager > Add Extension Location is more feasible and recognizes the change via relative location. Although after adding the extension you could only remove it manually via eclipse install>configuration>org.eclipse.update>platform.xml.
    Anyway, thanks for the info.. I have walked through your steps first.

    Many thanks!

  • Rich Dec 24, 2008

    This work fine with RAD7!

  • Luis Jan 2, 2009
  • Akbar Pasha Jan 27, 2009

    I tried this link approach it is working fine but when i removed links folder still i am getting those linked plugins. how can i uninstall those plugins. Please help me.

  • venukb Jan 28, 2009

    I have never tried giving a relative path in the link file. It might work I guess.

    Features is not always required by eclipse plugin contract as far as I know. I haven’t tried this approach with 3.4.

    Are you seeing the functionality of the removed plugins? Thats surprising. In any case you can do eclipse -clean This re builds the plugin cache and you should be set.

  • Akbar Pasha Jan 28, 2009

    Hi Venkub,
    Thanks for your reply, after removing the link file i opened eclipse with -clean option but still i am seeing the functionality of the removed plugins.
    please help me. What do i need to do?

    • Venu Nov 3, 2010

      Start eclipse with -clean argument …

  • Mikey Feb 25, 2009

    Tried this with latest eclipse installed fresh on 24Feb2009. It is the “Ganymede” version, C/C++ platform, downloaded from, version 3.4.1, detailed info below. Tried the Subclipse plugin, triple checked that everything is as described in the article. It does not work. I see that the feature has apparently been removed from some versions of Eclipse. Does anyone know if that is the case for the latest “Ganymede”?
    Thanks. -Mikey

    Eclipse Platform Version: 3.4.1
    Build id: M20080911-1700
    (c) Copyright Eclipse contributors and others 2000, 2008. All rights reserved. Visit
    This product includes software developed by the
    Apache Software Foundation

  • Kosuke Fudy Mar 28, 2009

    How could I use a plugin directory that resides on network?
    I tried ” path=\\\\\\EclipsePlugins”, but it doesn’t work

    • Sathish Oct 14, 2010

      Hello Kosuke,
      Did you get any solution for your problem. I have a similar requirement, and I am a newbie to Eclipse plugins, and I did not find a proper solution yet. Your help would be much appreciated.


  • Aatish Apr 5, 2009

    I am a newbie in eclipse. I have tried the basic thing of copying the contents of features and plugins and pasting it into the respective folders but it didn’t work. I mean, I am not getting the required API when I try to write the program.


  • subra Apr 27, 2009

    great post venu. Thanks. LEt me give this a shot.

  • Dipanjan Jul 3, 2009

    Thanks a lot man!

  • sudhanshu Aug 22, 2009

    Hi I tried quatumDB with eclipse 3.5 , it is only showing the help plugin, but not loading the views and perspectives

  • sudhanshu Aug 22, 2009

    it is working perfectly when I install inside eclipse plugin and features folder, but when I use the link it is neither showing any error nor showing the plugin views and perspectives

  • greg Aug 29, 2009

    In the tutorial what do you mean:
    the contents of has to be this: path=D:/thirdparty/wtp
    For someone new to plugin’s and fairly new to Eclipse you’ve completly jumped steps here. I have no idea what you are saying to do. Where do I create this code? in eclipse? in a text document in plugins? and what if the plugin has no “features” folder, for instance I would like to install Ecalc from:
    and how do I launch the plugin inside Eclipse?

    • venukb Nov 8, 2009

      In a text document; a missing feature folder shouldn’t matter..

  • swati Nov 10, 2009

    i am working in a project on eclipse.i have to install manually developed plugins in can i do this?

  • Ashish Nov 21, 2009

    I was having issues with ClickIDE plugin with Eclipse3.4. Initially I had it working (by manually extracting the files) but later I deleted the plugin as it was throwing some exception. Later when I re tried, it (clickIDE plugin) does not even gets loaded. Not sure what when wrong. I have installed Aptna plugins between ‘deleting’ and retrying the installation.

    After reading this post, I tried but of little use. Said plugin still does not gets loaded. Someone please help. Is there any log file generated while starting Eclipse, which tells which plugins got loaded and which had problem loading.


  • sg Dec 9, 2009

    file extension “.lnk” (not .link) works

    • Venu Nov 3, 2010

      Sg, is .lnk for Linux/unix ?

  • Nguyen Dec 17, 2009

    It’s amazing!!! Thank you so so much..I’m working with Eclipse Galileo 3.5 and I found that when replacing / in “path=” by // it works well. Once again thank you for sharing such awesome article!

  • Nitin Feb 2, 2010

    I am new to eclipse. I find this approach very useful.
    I am able to add CDT, RDT to Eclipse Java EE IDE. So it’s really turning true IDE for all my development needs :)
    Thanks for such useful post.

  • Peter Feb 18, 2010

    Is this supposed to work for RCP products you’ve created, or only for Eclipse IDE?
    I have a product definition, and exported, for which I want to have the normal plugins folder for plug-ins that I’ve shipped with the product. And then also a link to a folder where the user can add own plug-ins. Any ideas if this should work? Or why I can’t get it to work? (with extensions .lnk/.link using ‘/’ and backslah, or double slash / backslash…)

  • Raj Mar 26, 2010

    It worked for me on eclipse 3.1. I think its the simplest way to manage plug ins.Thx for this idea.
    But, what is the best way to confirm whether that plug in is now available in eclipse? Is it listed under plugins ?

  • Felipe Ortiz Apr 8, 2010

    Very clear and efective.

    Good post, VENUKB,

  • Ankit Kumar Apr 16, 2010

    Thank you very much for this article. Very useful.Have a good day

  • andrewsmith Apr 28, 2010

    Thanks! this article was really helpful to me. my task gets easier.

  • Janardan Jun 17, 2010

    Thanks for the information.I did my plug-in installetion by following your information.

  • Vasja Jul 16, 2010

    links directory still works in Eclipse 3.6.
    Thank you very much!

  • tHr Jul 22, 2010

    Hello i can’t use link approach in linux ubuntu with eclipse 3.6
    i creat a folder links inside the eclipse sdk 3.6 and create other folder Third-party-eclipse-links in another path that has eclipse plugins folders like eclipse-cpp-helios-linux-gtk . In the links folder i create a file that has contents:
    but in doesen’t work properly for me and eclipse doesn’t Recognize the cpp plugin!!
    in another way i change link file name to eclipse-cpp-helios-linux-gtk.lnk and at This time eclipse doesn’t recognize cpp plugin please help me to use this approach

    • Andy Sep 30, 2010

      Try creating links Unix way
      ln -s /your/plugin/dir pluginname

  • Bryan Solan Sep 24, 2010

    This feature seems to be superseded by the ‘dropins’ folder in recent versions of eclipse (p2 provisioning system). Allegedly the ‘links’ folder mechanism is still supported but I haven’t had much success with putting a .link file in either ‘links’ or ‘dropins’ in Helios.

    Interesting documentation on this feature:

    • Venu Nov 3, 2010

      Thanks for the reference Bryan.
      I have to try this out.. I did see in the examples that you can even drop a “.link” in the dropins folder :)

  • I recently installed eclipse. Thanks for showing us the easy way 😉

  • Ajay Pal Singh Sep 28, 2010

    How we install JSON plugin in Eclipse 3.3. If any one Know the step of installation. Please send complete steps on my Email-

  • Alex DL Sep 28, 2010

    That’s very useful indeed. I always do the hard way when I need to move my installation to a new or other computer.
    Although sometimes I prefer the convenience of the update manager, I’ve been, like you (and many others), left several times with partial installations, which are a pain in the arse to get it clean again.
    Using the \links\ provides for a much better way to compartimentalize the plugins from Eclipse itself, and if it fails, you just unzip again the contents, or easily remove the link-file to get rid of undesirable plugins.

    Thanks !

  • Spurthi Oct 29, 2010

    Hello sir,

    Thanks for the article. Very informative one.

    Actually I’m working on Developing Mashups on Google App Engine. For that I need to install PyDev, a python development plugin for eclipse. But I did not get that. So I downloaded Pyeclipse. But I’m not understanding whether it should be installed as a link as you explained in this article or in some other way. Because that it does not have folders like features and plugins. Could you please help me out in clarifying my doubt?

    Spurthi T.

    • venukb Nov 3, 2010

      You should download the Zip format and then use the “links” method
      The zip format is on sourceforge

  • sancho21 Feb 11, 2011

    This is a great tutorial which really inspire me to create my own way by using Git versioning system. Please checkout:

  • Dean Cook Feb 13, 2011

    Thank you for this explanation. It was very helpful.

  • Bhathiya Feb 17, 2011

    Really helpful article when i’m install javacc parser plugin offline

  • Lynn Feb 23, 2011

    You are a GENIUS !!!! This is totally the way to go (the “link” way)
    because the installer is a freakin nightmare !!!!!!

  • Rajkumar Ravi Apr 5, 2011

    I came across your article exactly when i m looking to install WTP directly by copying to plugins folder. Thank you very much for giving detailed instructions.

  • Suneet Jun 1, 2011

    Anyone try this approach with m2eclipse? I’ve downloaded the m2e and the m2e-extras plugin manually (since it’s not available as a zip). Fairly certain its the right structure but I can’t get it to work

    Here’s a link (40MB) to the files.

  • Suneet Jun 1, 2011

    Anyone try this approach with m2eclipse? I’ve downloaded the m2e and the m2e-extras plugin manually (since it’s not available as a zip). Fairly certain its the right structure but I can’t get it to work

    Here’s a link (40MB) to the files.

  • Neil Jun 7, 2011

    Links are working very well for me.
    I am developing PHP projects using:
    Version: Helios Release Build id: 20100617-1415 (Ubuntu)
    I found trying to install SDK or PDE plugins into the above environment was proving (for me) impossible. (Missing connectors, incompatible versions, and all sorts of other errors).
    I have now downloaded eclipse-SDK-3.6.2-linux-gtk-x86_64 to develop plug-ins, and then I’m using links to plug them in to my PHP development environment. Works great !
    By the way, I inadvertently failed to name a link file with the ‘.link’ extension, and linking still works with a link file named ‘Unsaved Document 1′ !!

  • JohnM Sep 5, 2011

    I urgently need to get Java3D to work with Java 1.6 and Indigo in Windows 7. In the past with Vista and older Java, eclipse and Java 3D versions, I simply installed Java3D normally and it would work. Now however, this does not work. So, I tried putting in the new java 3d eclipse plugins. Copying the plugins and features into Indigo did not work. After deleting and setting up a new eclipse, I tried your links method using Notepad to make a file “java3d.links” with the line “path=C:\\Java3dPlugin” (also tried \ and /) indicating where I copied the unzipped download in an eclipse folder. Still no luck. Any ideas?

  • michel Dec 13, 2011

    i tested wtp eclipse plugins is ok, but not work for the googleAppEngine plugins.

    it is not easy to find and download the standalone eclipse plugins, since it is more common to use an update site(e.g. egit plugins).

    thank you for your sharing


  • NIRANJAN Jan 9, 2012

    nice yar..

  • Srimanta Feb 18, 2012

    thanks a lot for this article…

  • sumanth May 28, 2012

    I just implementing a new plug-in and I have placed abc.txt file in my current project and I am trying to read in start(), but I am getting FileNotFoundException: abc.txt while running plug-in.

    Any one please tell me how to read txt file in current directroy not in any other location.

  • Dorin Aug 3, 2012


    I have some plugins and I exported them into a feature. After that I tried to install the new feature using your instructions but no result for me.

    I tried to install a single plugin (no feature) using links and It’s work

    Best regards

  • Venki Sep 25, 2012


    Got quick installation with Links help. Super thanks.


  • Samuel Mburu Oct 13, 2012

    Thanks for the info, this helped me very much.

    It didn’t work for me initially using just the links directory, but I was able to get it working from the dropins directory using the .link folder. I think what my problem was that I used an environment var $HOME to reference my plugin, but it worked after switching to an absolute path. I’m on osx.

    Good work, keep it up.

  • Felipe Milne Jun 22, 2013

    Please watch the video “Glass Walls” with a very important message from Paul McCartney

Leave a Comment