Step-by-step guide to install and use ShortPixel Adaptive Images (SPAI)

In this guide, you will see how you can install ShortPixel Adaptive Images (SPAI), an explanation of its settings and how to know if SPAI is working well, and if it isn't, how to solve it. Let's go!

1) Installing ShortPixel Adaptive Images

There are 3 ways you can install SPAI, and they are the same as with every other plugin.

Install SPAI using WordPress Plugin Search

First thing you need to do is go to your WordPress admin area and click on Plugins > Add New. Then, write on the search field "shortpixel adaptive images".

Now, click on "Install Now" on the ShortPixel Adaptive Images box. The button will change to "Activate". Click on it and that's it!

Install SPAI using the WordPress Admin Plugin Upload

You can also download an upload the plugin, if you don't feel like using the plugin search. First, go to the plugin page by clicking here and download the plugin.

Go to your WordPress admin area and go to Plugins > Add New > Upload Plugin
Click on "Choose File", look for the .zip that you just downloaded, select it, and upload it here by clicking on "Install Now". After activating it, that's it!

Manually Install a WordPress Plugin using FTP

The 3rd way, which is for experienced users, is to download and upload the plugin via FTP. First of all, download the plugin as we've seen before.

Now, extract the .zip file on your computer. Extracting the plugin .zip file will create a new folder with the same name. This is the folder that you need to manually upload to your website using a FTP client.

Open the FTP client on your computer and connect to your website using the login credentials provided by your web host. Once connected, you need to access the path 


Next, upload the folder you extracted from the .zip file to the above path on your web server.

After uploading the files, you need to visit the WordPress admin area and click on the "Plugins" link in the admin menu. You will see your plugin successfully installed on the plugins page.

And you need to click on the "Activate" link below the plugin.


2) Onboarding Wizard

If it's the first time you are using ShortPixel Adaptive Images, you will now be redirected to the Onboarding Wizard:

This 4-step wizard will help you configure SPAI properly so all your images are served from our CDN optimized.

If, for example, you were already using SPAI and updated to the new version, you can restart the wizard by going to Settings > ShortPixel AI and clicking on the "Setup Wizard" button located on the top right Help menu:

Please note that ShortPixel Adaptive Images does not require an API Key to start working. You only need to associate your website/domain to your account so that your ShortPixel credits will be used, and that will be automatically done by the Onboarding Wizard.

After you complete the Onboarding Wizard, be sure to clear the cache of your site: How to clear WordPress cache

3) Settings

ShortPixel is very easy to use, as it starts doing its magic right after activating and setting it up with the Onboarding Wizard; no need to click on any ON button or similar. However, SPAI also provides you with some settings to tune your image optimization. To access, just log in to your WordPress admin area and go to Settings > ShortPixel AI.

Remember to clear the cache of your site after changing your settings: How to clear WordPress cache

The settings are organized in 4 tabs:

Click on each link to learn more!

4) Image Checker

After all the settings are in place, be sure to check out the new Image Checker tool: How to use the Image Checker tool.


Stop right here! Clear your cache before proceeding: How to clear WordPress cache

Now, the first question that comes to mind is: " Is SPAI working well on my website?" You can find out while reading this article!

We also updated our knowledge base with many articles that will help you out when something is not working as expected:

  • First of all, for the most common reasons of malfunctioning, check out this article
  • If you notice that no images are properly resized, this article helps you debug everything yourself, step-by-step.
  • If, in general, SPAI works correctly, but you still have some images that are not being served by our CDN, try activating one of the following options, located on Settings > ShortPixel AI > Areas:
  • Are you using GTmetrix or PageSpeed Insights? Do you get one or more image-related warning messages?
    • "Use explicit width and height on image elements": Read this
    • "Properly size images": Read this
  • Do your images appear as "data:image/svg" if you inspect the code? Then read this.
  • SPAI is not serving the WebP images correctly? Maybe it does!
  • Do you get a 500 error when installing the plugin? Make sure to read this.
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