How to install a WordPress theme


Installing a WordPress theme can be easy or difficult, depending on the theme and it’s availability (or lack thereof) in the WordPress themes directory.

The automatic installation process comes very handy with published themes, but sometimes things fail or themes are not available, and one must resort to the old fashioned files upload, either via WordPress or via the old fashioned FTP.  This tutorial describes all three methods.

Installing a WordPress theme using the built-in installer is quite easy:

 Steps 1,2,3 1. From your WordPress dashboard, navigate to the Appearance > Themes menu.
2. Click on the Install Themes button.
3. Type the name of your desired theme in the input field and click Search.
 Step 4 4. WordPress will display all found results. Click the Install Now link under the desired theme.
Step 5 5. WordPress will display the status of the install and present you with some options. Click the Activate link to set the newly installed theme as your site theme.

In case you have a theme archive on your computer and your webserver’s configuration allows it, you can install a WordPress theme by uploading the archive directly and WordPress does the rest:

 Steps 1,2,3 1. From your WordPress dashboard, navigate to the Appearance > Themes menu.
2. Click on the Install Themes button.
3. Click on the Upload link
 Steps 4,5 4. Navigate and select the theme file on your computer. Its name will be displayed in the input field.
5. Click the Install Now button and WordPress will attempt to install the theme.
Step 6 6. WordPress will display the status of the install and present you with some options. Click the Activate link to set the newly installed theme as your site theme.

If automatic installation fails, or you want to install a theme that is not available in the WordPress directory, you’ll need to use this alternative route for installing your theme.

You will need to know several details about your server / hosting account:

  • server address / domain name
  • hosting/server username
  • hosting/server password
  • location of your WordPress installation inside the hosting account (usually directly into the public_html folder or some folder inside this)

Then you will need a FTP client (FileZilla is a great free program).

Step 1 1. We are using Mantra in this example, so we have to download it. You need to do the same with your desired theme.
Step 2 2. Save the theme archive on your computer (in case you don’t already have it)
Step 3 3. Extract the theme archive. You should get a folder named the same as your theme with a lot of files and folders inside it (specifically, check that it contains style.css and functions.php)
Step 4 4. Using FileZilla, connect to your hosting account.
In the left pane navigate to the folder obtained in step 3.In the right pane navigate to your WordPress installation folder (look for wp-admin and wp-content).
Once you have locate this, navigate inside wp-content/themes. Right click the “theme_name” folder on the left pane and select Upload from the menu.
Step 5 5. After the transfer is complete you should see the new theme folder right next to the default (as of WordPress 3.5) twentyeleven and twentytwelve themes folders.
Step 6 6. Via the dashboard, navigate to Appearance > Themes. The new theme should be displayed in the list.
Click the Activate link to enable it.

And you are done :)

About Zed

The analytical mind behind Cryout Creations. Responsible for all the wires and tubes; dedicates most time to breaking stuff and finding bugs and never enough time to fixing things.
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21 Responses to How to install a WordPress theme

  1. anandmag2010 says:

    i need login and registration link at the top as u showed how to do that

  2. gcampton says:

    I have no problems installing the theme however a child theme is not working.
    I’m using the below in a folder “Nirvana Child” and style.css


    Theme Name: Nirvana Child
    Theme URI:
    Author: Cryout Creations
    Author URI:
    Description: Imagine a land […]
    Version: 1.0.0
    Template: nirvana


    • Zed says:

      That child theme header might be incomplete.

      Are you enqueuing the parent (Nirvana) stylesheet in the code? Otherwise, you need to load it in the child theme style.css file with @import.

      See our child theme tutorial.

  3. Is this only applicable to premium wordpress?

  4. Yannick says:

    Can I customize the “read more button”?
    so I can translat
    e him in dutch?

  5. albareto says:

    I’ve problems in the presentation page, I can’t see the slider like in the Demo. Please, can you help me?

  6. Joe Rozsa says:

    Hi.. I saw one tutorial on , that guy uploaded wp 3.91 version directly into filemanager & the extracted and installed wordpress , My question is uploading via cpanel is better or uploading wordpress via Ftp or simplescripts 1 minute installation is better

    • Zed says:

      Manual upload guarantees you are installing the latest version. Using your control panel’s “magic installer” may leave you with an older (outdated, vulnerable) WordPress installation.

  7. Pingback: How To Install WordPress Themes [VIDEO] - How To WordPress 2.0

  8. Angela says:

    I installed it but I can’t figure out how to label the areas like the columns or change the pics in the columns. Is there a tutorial somewhere?

  9. Pingback: Installing WordPress | Creating Web Interfaces

  10. Energise 2-0 says:

    I have watch an install video and seen this blog. both times the first step is to click ‘Install Theme’ but I do not have that header. Any help of why this is would be helpful.

  11. gon says:

    I have problems to upload images in the presentation page. Always says that it was imposible to do. Does anyone know why? The screen apears dark and the mantra menú isn´t avalaible. I need to reaload the page of the navegator.

  12. Carl says:

    Great article and excellent instructions – this will save me a lot of time and frustrations on my next install – have bookmarked your page!

  13. Ardhendu Shekhar Singh says:

    I followed your instruction and installed the updated version of the theme but it seems that the custom slides for presentation page is not working.Act my end .so could you please update regarding the same.So that I can proceed toward my target.
    I will be very thankful to you for the same.because my work is stuck very badly.

  14. onieboy says:

    very helpful

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