How To Install a WordPress Theme – The Best 3 Methods

Feb 26, 2019

How To Install a WordPress Theme – The Best 3 Methods

Feb 26, 2019

WordPress has made it easy to built websites. Thanks to the ton of free WordPress themes and plugins, users with poor or no technical know-how can build WordPress sites easily. It’s the most popular website builder of today’s date.

Speaking of themes and plugins for WordPress sites, when you create a WordPress website, some default plugins and themes are installed automatically. The default themes on your WordPress websites are usually rather basic. They may not fit your needs. You can, however, choose to go with one of the many free or premium themes available. Once you find the right theme or create a child theme that meets all your requirements, then the next step is theme installation.

Before installing a WordPress theme

Before we dive right into the complete guide, a note of caution! Installing a new theme can break your website. The reason could be anything – from an error in the code to conflicting WordPress plugins. But one can avoid such mishaps easily by installing the theme in a staging environment. On a staging site, you can test, choose, and install your WordPress theme. If the theme is faulty, and it breaks your site and you’ll see a white screen of death. When this happens, you could just go with a different theme altogether.

The step-by-step process of installing a WordPress theme on a staging site is the same as installing it on a live site. There are three methods and we are going to cover them all one by one. In this post, we show you how to install and activate WordPress themes safely.

Pro Tip: It’s possible that the theme you choose to use is corrupted. This is unlikely to happen if you are using a theme from the WordPress repository. But if you downloaded or purchased it from somewhere else, we strongly recommend you to run a scan on the theme and then install it on your website.

Activate the theme on your staging site first, run a scan with a security plugin, and then install the theme on your live website.

If you don’t have a security plugin installed then, you can checkout this list of free security plugins.

Beginners Guide on How to Install WordPress Theme:

Method I: Adding a New Theme from the dashboard

Step 1: Log in to your WordPress website and from the side panel on the left, select Appearance. A couple of options appear. Choose the first one, i.e. the Themes option. It’ll take you to the Themes page.

appearance tab and theme button

Step 2: On the top of the theme page, you’ll notice an option that says Add New. Select it and it’ll take you to a page from where you can search and add new themes.

click to add new theme

Step 3: Scroll through the new page and see if you find any theme that fits your need. If you already have a theme in your mind, then head over to the search tab in the right-hand corner of the window and search for the theme.

search for the theme

Once you have decided on the theme, hover your cursor over it and you’ll see a few options appear (refer to the image below). Click on Install and then Activate.

And that’s it. You have installed a new theme on your website.

press button to install theme

Note: If you are not sure about the theme, then you could preview the theme first. To do that select Preview. It’ll show you a preview of the theme.

But if you wish to see a preview of the theme on your website, then click on Install and a Live Preview button appears. Select Live Preview.

press button to show live preview

Method II: Uploading New Theme

If you fail to follow through the previous method, here’s another method. In this one, you’ll learn to download a theme from the WordPress repository and then manually install it.

Step 1: Open the official WordPress website and from the options available on the top of the window, select Themes.

It’ll take you to the Theme Directory from where you can select a theme of your choice.

select themes option

Step 2: From the Themes Directory, click on the theme that you’d like to preview or Download. If you are unsure about the theme, you could preview it before downloading it. To do this, just click on Preview. Once you are satisfied with your choice, click on Download to proceed to install it on your website.

click here to preview or download theme

Step 3: Next, from your WordPress dashboard go to Appearance and then Themes (just as we did in Step 1 of Method 1), and select the option Add New.

click to add new theme

That’ll take you to a new page and from this page, select Upload Theme.

Then click on Choose File to select the theme file that you just downloaded. Then hit the Install Now button.

upload theme button, choose file option, install now

And that’s it. The theme will be installed on your WordPress website. After activating the theme on your site, be sure to check if it’s working properly.

(Note that if the theme fails to upload, then it’s possible that the theme is already present on your website. You just need to activate it. To check if the theme is already present, navigate to Appearance → Themes. Found the theme you are looking for? Great! Now, for activating your theme, click on the Activate button.)

Method III: Adding New WordPress Theme via FTP

If both methods fail, there is one more way you can install a theme into your website. It involves knowing how to use an FTP client.

Step 1: The first step is to download the theme of choice from the official WordPress website. Go to the WordPress website, and from the options available on the top of the window, select Themes.

It’ll take you to the Theme Directory from where you can select a theme of your choice.

Click on the theme that you’d like to preview or Download. Next, if you want to preview the theme, select Preview. Or just click on Download and the theme folder will download in a zip file.

select the theme option

Step 2: Next, open your FTP client (we are using Filezilla). To connect your FTP Client with your website server, insert the Host, Username, Password, and Port (optional) and hit Quickconnect (see image below).

[You can get your FTP credentials from your web host account. To help you find your FTP credentials, we’ve made the following videos for a quick step-by-step guide/ video tutorials – SiteGround, 1&1 Hosting, HostGator, DreamHost, and GoDaddy. If you are not using any of these web hosts, better get in touch with your web host to find out what your FTP credentials are.]

filezilla quickconnect option

Step 3: After establishing the connection between FTP Client and your website server, it’s time to upload the theme you downloaded in the previous step.

You’ll need to upload the theme in a specific folder called themes. How do you find this folder on the FTP Client?

Recommended FTP Client – FileZilla

There are many FTP Clients and in this example, we are using FileZilla – one of the well-known FTP Clients out there.

On FileZilla, there is a section called Remote Site. And under this section, you can see all the files of the site (see image below). The Remote Site is basically the WordPress website where we want to upload the theme.

From under the Remote Site section, select public HTML folder (/public_html) and a drop-down appear. From the drop-down, select wp-content file (/wp-content). Another drop-down appears and from this drop-down, select themes folder (/themes). In this folder, you’ll find all the theme files of your website.

Remote site → /public_html → /wp-content → /themes

NOTE: The public HTML folder shows where is WordPress installed. If you can’t find the /wp-content or /themes folder under public HTML, that means WordPress is not installed in the public HTML folder. In that case, get in touch with your WordPress hosting company.

remote site, select theme

Step 4: Unzip the Theme folder that you had downloaded. Then drag and drop the theme folder into the FTP client, in the section named Filename (see image below).

Drop the theme folder here

Once uploaded, the theme should appear inside the Theme folder.

new theme uploaded

Step 5: Now, open your WordPress website dashboard, and go to Appearances → Themes. Found the theme you just uploaded? Now activating your theme is easy. Simply click on the Activate button.

button to activate new theme

And that’s how to install a theme using FTP. After you have installed your theme, be sure to check it out how the theme looks on your live site. Also, remember to update your WordPress for security reasons from time to time. We would highly recommend getting a WordPress security plugin.


We hope you found this guide easy to follow. If you have any queries or would like us to cover WordPress tutorials of your choice, please do drop in a line. We would love to hear from you! For more check our WordPress blog.

If you want to secure your website from corrupt themes,
Installing a WordPress theme on your site
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