(I'm still pretty green when it comes to drupal so I thought I'd ask here before putting in a bug report)

At the bottom of the "Extend" page (admin/modules) the button to apply the changes made to the check-boxes is labelled "install", but (to my understanding) it doesn't install anything, it merely enables (or possibly disables) the already installed modules.

I often find myself at this page after clicking the "Enable newly installed modules" link. I see the "install" button and think "but I just installed, now I want to enable".

So, would "Enable / Disable" or "Apply" be a less misleading label?

Or, am I misunderstanding the terminology, or the use of this page?

2 Answers 2


Technially/In the code, Drupal calls enabling a module "install" and the opposite is uninstall.

I think it's not that part that is confusing, its that downloading the code of a module is also called installing, it's not, that's just downloading a bunch of files. They don't do anything yet, they're just sitting there on the file system.

It's similar to normal programs that you install, first you download them, then you run an installer that installs it. Although that does more than in Drupal as it also copies the files into the right place and so on, Drupal usually just creates some tables and imports the configuration.

Also, small correction to the answer from @Christia: Drupal 8 does not have the concept of disabled modules anymnore, that half-installed state only exists in Drupal 7 and before.

  • Ah this clears it up, so it's the "+ Install a new module" button on that page and wording on the admin/modules/install page that should be fixed? (if anything)
    – pix
    Aug 29, 2017 at 10:33
  • Yeah, IMHO, that should say "download a new module" or so :) You could check the issue queue if there is already an open issue about this and if not, open one and suggest to change it. You could also talk to the Usability Maintainer (yoroy) in IRC or slack
    – Berdir
    Aug 29, 2017 at 13:07

My understanding is that not all modules that are available in Drupal are installed. I am speaking for Drupal 7 as I am not sure about Drupal 8.

There are three phases:

  • Enabled: The code is downloaded to your server and the hooks in .module are being called.
  • Disabled: The code is downloaded to your server, but the hooks are being ignored.
  • Not-Installed: The code is downloaded to your server, but Drupal hasn't run the .install file for the module and/or hasn't been made aware to look for the hooks.

Also, it's worth noting that if you disable a module, all your data and configurations remain, while uninstalling a module invokes the uninstall hook and wipes both.

So as you can see, the label is relevant to whether or not the module needs to be installed or enabled. You can go from not-installed directly to enabled, but you must go from enabled to disabled to not installed especially before removing the module by deleting it's files.


  • Hmm, I was under the impression that only installed modules appeared on that list, but I just uninstalled Token and noticed that it remained in the list and I could reinstall it by checking it's box and clicking the (finally appropriately labeled) install button. The thrust of my question was that most of the time when I click that button I'm enabling an already installed module, rather than installing it. That it is very occasionally the right label makes me feel slightly better ;)
    – pix
    Aug 29, 2017 at 6:08
  • I only really work in Drush so I might be mixing things up with the GUI. Are you saying there is a button that always says "install"? Can you edit your question with a screen shot?
    – Christia
    Aug 29, 2017 at 7:19

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