How to Set Up ReCaptcha in Joomla 3 for Spam Protection

ReCaptcha is a very useful and important plugin that has been available in the Joomla installation package since the release of Joomla 2.5. It offers extra spam protection by preventing malicious use of your contact form and user registration form. If you allow user registration on your Joomla site, it is quite necessary to set up ReCaptcha.

Below is a step-by-step tutorial about how to enable and set up ReCaptcha plugin to keep your Joomla website away from form spammers.

Configure ReCaptcha Plugin

First of all, log into Joomla admin panel. In the top menu, find Extensions > Plugin Manager. Then, in the lists of plugin, find the one named “Captcha – reCaptcha” and click on it to enter the settings page. You can also use the search function to locate the plugin.

Captcha - ReCaptcha Plugin

Now there are two tasks required to complete.

Enable ReCaptcha Plugin. By default, the plugin is disabled. To enable it, you just need to change the Status on the right side of the page to be “Enabled”.

Enable ReCaptcha Plugin

Fill in the Site key and Secret key. As the ReCaptcha plugin uses Google reCAPTCHA service, you now need to click the link given in the plugin description to sign up your domain and get the unique site and secret key.

Once you land on Google reCAPTCHA page, click on the “Get reCAPTCHA” button on the upper right.


Fill in the form to register your domain to use the reCAPTCHA API.

Register Your Website

After registering your site successfully, you can get the Site key and Secret key under “Keys”.


Copy the keys to your Joomla plugin, and save the changes. Now the ReCaptcha plugin is configured properly. Also, you can choose a theme as you like.

Fill in Site and Secret Key

Enable ReCaptcha According to Your Need

Although you have enabled ReCaptcha in its settings, it does not work immediately on your site unless you get it enabled in the Global Configuration or the User Manager.

To add ReCaptcha to both contact form and user registration form, you need to go to System > Global Configuration. Under the “Site” tab, you can find a line for “Default Captcha”. Select “Captcha – reCaptcha” from the drop-down and save the changes. This applies a site-wide change.

Default Captcha

If you only want to enable ReCaptcha for either the contact form or the registration form, you need to make use of the User Manager in the menu “Users”.

When you land in the User Manager, click on the “Options” tab on the upper right of the page, and then open the “Component” tab. For the Captcha, there should be three options among which you can make a choice based on your own need.

  • Use Default – The default option that follows the settings you make in the Global Configuration.
  • None Selected – This option ignores the settings in the Global Configuration and allows you to use ReCaptcha for the contact form only.
  • Captcha – ReCaptcha – Using this option, you enable ReCaptcha for the registration form only. It works when the Default Captcha in the Global Configuration is selected to “None Selected”.

User Configuration - Captcha

If you have set everything up correctly, visiting your site you can see ReCaptcha appearing at the bottom of the contact form/registration form.

ReCaptcha in Registration Form