How to Install a WordPress Theme

Are you new to making a WordPress website and need to know how to install a WordPress theme? If this sounds complicated, let us reassure you that it is not.

WordPress themes are an important part of customizing your site. So choosing the right theme for your website is an important step.

In this beginners guide, we are going to explain step-by-step how to install a WordPress theme. We will show you three different ways to achieve this, so you can pick the best method that suits your needs.

Additionally, we’ll touch on what a WordPress theme is, what to look for when choosing one, and how to uninstall a WordPress theme.

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What is a WordPress Theme?

Before we dive into installing a WordPress theme here is a quick overview of what a WordPress theme is.

In a non-technical way, a WordPress theme is something you can install on your WordPress website to change the way it looks and feels. A WordPress theme dictates how your website’s content is displayed visually.

WordPress themes are in charge of handling where your logo is located, which fonts get used, the color scheme, layout of your website’s content, and many other features.

On a more technical note, a WordPress theme is a collection of different files in a folder that are written in programming languages such as PHP, CSS, and JavaScript. These files work together to create what you see, what users see, and how your website behaves.

Things to Know Before Installing a WordPress Theme

In your search, before you download and install a WordPress theme, let’s take a look at a couple of basic things to be aware of to help you on your way.

1. Choose a niche specific WordPress theme

On your quest for the best WordPress theme for your website, you’ll want to choose a theme that is specific to your niche, business, or content type. This means that if you are building a blog, then you will want a good blogging theme. If you have products to sell, you will need a theme that supports e-commerce and so on.

Another example would be people who want a website for their barbershop. These people would need to look for salon or barbershop themes. They might also think about looking for a theme that supports customer bookings and services.

If it becomes a struggle to find a WordPress theme that you like in your niche. You can also try going with a multipurpose theme.

2. All WordPress themes are not created equal

With that said, while searching through themes, you’ll want to be sure it’s from a trusted and reputable source.

You want to use a theme with good code quality that is actively supported. Just because it looks nice on the outside doesn’t mean it is on the inside. There are plenty of abandoned projects as well as bad actors across the internet. Understanding what to look for could save you a headache or worst, a nightmare.

Below is a general list of things to look out for, while searching for a good WordPress theme. Look for the things below on the theme product page.

  • Read reviews: Search for and thoroughly read reviews and ratings. This will help weed out a lot of the bad ones.
  • Last update: Verify when the theme was last updated. This will tell us if the theme is being actively worked on.
  • Current version: Look and see what the current version of the theme is. This will give us an idea about its history
  • Support offered: Before paying for a theme you want to know what kind of support, if any, is being offered. Things can and will happen so support is necessary.

For further reading, we recommend: How to Choose a WordPress Theme for Your Website.

If you haven’t already found a theme, below is a list of some trusted sources to help get you started.

Trusted WordPress Theme sources:

  • WordPress Theme Repository (Freemium themes)
  • Theme Forest (Premium)
  • Creative Market (Premium)
  • TemplateMonster (Premium)

Now that we’ve covered some basics about what a theme is and what to look for, we can begin learning how to install a WordPress theme.

How to Install a WordPress Theme

There are thousands of free and premium WordPress themes available across the internet, which can sometimes make choosing a WordPress theme difficult. In the beginning stages you may want to try a few themes out before deciding which one is right.

How to Install a Free WordPress Theme

The WordPress theme directory contains thousands of free-to-get-started themes, also called freemium themes. These types of themes are created by third-party developers and are released free with premium options to unlock more features.

In this section, we will explain how to install a WordPress theme inside your WordPress Admin area.

Follow the steps below and by the end, you will have installed a WordPress theme from the WordPress theme directory.

Step 1. Go to the Appearance Themes Screen

From the main navigation on the left side of the screen, look for the word Appearance. Hover over it with your mouse and click on the word Themes. This will load the WordPress Appearance Themes Screen.

Go to Appearance > Themes.

WordPress Appearance Themes Screen Link

The Appearance Themes Screen allows you to manage your themes. It shows all the WordPress themes that you have installed. It also allows you to switch, remove, preview, update, and add themes.

Step 2. Click Add New Theme

On the Appearance Themes Screen look for Add New at the top.

Top of Appearance Themes Screen

Alternatively, you can click on Add New Theme, located among your installed themes.

Appearance Themes Screen Add New Theme link

Clicking on either option will load the WordPress Theme Directory.

Step 3. Find a Theme That You Like

At the top of the Add Themes screen, you will see the number of WordPress themes in the directory along with some filter options and a search box to the right.

WordPress Theme Directory in Theme Management Screen

You can also use the Feature Filter button to filter the theme results based on specific features.

WordPress Add Themes Feature Filter

If you already know which theme you are interested in, enter it into the search box. Otherwise, you will need to use the filter options to narrow down the results.

Step 4. Preview and Install a Theme

Once you have found a theme that you are interested in trying out, simply click the Details & Preview button to learn more about it and see it in action.

Preview and Install a Theme from the WordPress Theme Directory

Click the X to exit preview mode or press Install to try it out.

WordPress Theme preview toolbar

After clicking the install button it will say installing.

Installing a WordPress theme in preview mode

When the installation is complete, clicking the Activate button will make it your active theme.

Activate a WordPress theme in preview mode

That’s it! You now have a new WordPress theme installed. You can now go back to the Appearance Themes Screen to see which themes you have installed. To switch themes, hover over the theme and click activate.

How to Install a Premium WordPress Theme

Step 1. Go to the Appearance Themes Screen

From the main navigation on the left side of the screen, look for the word Appearance. Hover over it with your mouse and click on the word Themes. This will load the WordPress Appearance Themes Screen.

Go to Appearance > Themes

WordPress Appearance Themes Screen Link

The Appearance Themes Screen allows you to manage your themes. It shows all the WordPress themes that you have installed. It also allows you to switch, remove, preview, update, and add themes.

Step 2. Click Add New Theme

On the Appearance Themes Screen look for Add New at the top.

Top of Appearance Themes Screen

Alternatively, you can click on Add New Theme, located among your installed themes.

Appearance Themes Screen Add New Theme link

Clicking on either option will load the WordPress Theme Directory.

Step 3. Click Upload Theme

At the top of the Add Themes screen, you will need to click Upload Theme.

WordPress Add Themes screen Upload Theme button

Once clicked, you’ll see a form to upload your downloaded theme. Click Browse, locate the theme you want to install, and click Open.

WordPress Theme upload form

Now click Install Now. Once the theme has finished installing, click Activate.

WordPress downloaded theme installation

That’s it! You have now installed a downloaded WordPress theme.

How to Install a WordPress Theme using FTP

In this method, we will show you how to install a WordPress theme using FTP (file transfer protocol), which is the standard way to transfer files between a client and a web server. In a non-technical way, FTP allows you to upload files to your website.

For this, we will be using the free and open-source client software FileZilla, which can be easily downloaded to your computer. It’s free to use and a great choice because of its simple interface.

Note: This is an advanced way to install a WordPress theme and is not recommended for beginners.

Step 1. Get your FTP / SFTP Credentials

Before you can start uploading to your website you will need your FTP / SFTP credentials from your web hosting provider. You will have to look around in your web hosting account. If you have trouble finding it you’ll need to reach out to your web hosting provider.

What you will need:

  • Host
  • Username
  • Password
  • Port

If you are using DreamHost, first log in to your account and click on Websites in the dashboard. Then click FTP Users & Files . This will take you to the File Management screen.

On the File Management screen, click Show Info on the right. This will show your credentials for using FTP/ SFTP.

So go to Websites > FTP Users & Files > Show Info.

Step 2. Enter Your Credentials into FileZilla

Once you have your FTP/SFTP credentials, go ahead and startup FileZilla.

Now enter your credential information into each box and click the Quickconnect button.

FileZilla Toolbar

FileZilla will then connect to your website’s web server.

Step 3. Upload WordPress Theme Files

After you have successfully connected to your website’s web server, you can install a WordPress theme on your website.

The left side of FileZilla is how you will access your computer files. The right side of FileZilla is how you will access your website’s files.

To open up your website’s files, click on the folders in the right-side panel. Now look for the one labeled themes. Go to wp-content > themes.

Once you find and click on the themes folder, any WordPress themes that you have installed will appear under the file folders.

FileZilla remote site files

Next, go to the left-side panel and find the WordPress theme that you want to install. Once you find it, right-click on it and select Upload.

FileZilla Local files

Note: If the theme you want to install is in .zip format you will need to extract it first.

Once the theme is done uploading to your website’s web server, you will then see the theme folder in the right-side panel of FileZilla.

FileZilla WordPress theme upload

Now log into your WordPress website and go to Appearance > Themes. You will now be able to see the theme you uploaded. The final step will be to activate your newly uploaded theme. Find the theme and click activate.

Uploaded WordPress Theme

That’s it! You now know how to install a WordPress theme using FTP. Hopefully, it went smoothly.

How to Uninstall a WordPress Theme

In this part of the guide, we will show you how to uninstall a WordPress theme from your WordPress installation. We thought that since we are showing how to add themes, maybe we should show you how to remove them as well. Uninstalling a WordPress theme is really easy once you know where to look.

Step 1. Go to the Appearance Themes Screen

From the main navigation on the left side of the admin area, look for the word Appearance. Hover over it with your mouse and click on the word Themes. This will load the WordPress Appearance Themes Screen.

Go to Appearance > Themes

WordPress Appearance Themes Screen Link

The Appearance Themes Screen allows you to manage your themes. It shows all the WordPress themes that you have installed. It also allows you to switch, remove, preview, update, and add themes.

Step 2. Click the Theme that you want to Uninstall

Now click on the theme that you want to be removed. Then click Delete located to the right.

Uninstall a WordPress Theme

Note: You cannot uninstall an active theme. It must be deactivated first.

That’s it! You now know how to uninstall a WordPress theme.

Wrapping it Up!

In this guide, we have walked you through 3 different ways to install a WordPress theme and how to uninstall a WordPress theme.

Chances are you may go through a few different WordPress themes before you find the one you like most with all the features you need. Thankfully installing a WordPress theme is not too difficult.

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