You have such a vast array of options when it comes to WordPress Themes

WordPress Essentials – Installing Themes


Installing a theme is something that all site owners will want to do soon after installing their blog. Themes are the perfect and most obvious way to personalise the look and feel of your site – they change the colors and layout of your site and some of the more advanced ones give you some additional functionality.

Themes can be found in a wide range of places: most people will start with the official WordPress Theme Directory, which hosts thousands of free themes for you to use. Then there’s other free themes not in the directory for various reasons and then there’s paid themes (I recommend for premium themes).

Regardless of where you find your theme, you’ll likely download a ZIP file with all the theme’s files to your computer. There is an exception to this if you’re using the theme finder from your site.

Automatic Theme Finder and Installer

If you log in to your WordPress site and go to the Appearance menu, you will see an option for Themes. On the next screen, if you hit the Install Themes tab, you’ll be taken to a search page where you can specify what you’re looking for in a theme and get matches from the official WordPress Theme Directory.

You can then preview them and if you find one you like, you can hit the Install button and the theme will be installed without any further intervention from you. This is the easiest method from a user interface perspective.

Upload through your site

If you have downloaded a ZIP file with your theme in it, you can upload it directly into your WordPress admin area.

Go to the Install Themes tab as described above. At the top of the page, you’ll find a link for “Upload”. On the next page, you’ll be able to upload your ZIP file and activate your theme.

Upload by FTP

If you want, you can upload your theme by FTP. You’ll have to unzip your ZIP file on your computer first, unless you have a tool which can extract ZIP files directly on your server (like cPanel).

Once you’ve extracted the ZIP file, you need to connect to your FTP server and go to the wp-content/themes/ folder. This is where you’ll upload the folder that you unzipped (or the ZIP file, ready for you to extract). You should upload the parent folder that contains all the theme files, so that it is separate from other themes. The parent folder will have a name which is representative of the theme name.

Now when you go to your Themes section in your WordPress admin area, you’ll see your new theme listed and you can preview / activate it there.

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What next?

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Dave has been tinkering with WordPress for many years, and he now shares his WordPress knowledge here on Do It WIth WordPress to help others realise its impressive power. He can also be hired to help with your WordPress needs. Dave, who is British, is married to his best friend, Marti, with whom he has a beautiful daughter, Ellie. When he's not dabbling with WordPress, he's probably eating Triscuits or hummus, watching an indie film or British TV show, spending time with friends or family, or exploring the world.


  1. i just wanted to say, i haven’t been to your site in a while, got your updated email newsletter and like your idea on upcoming widget and the new look of your website. great job. thanks for sharing i am forever changing my site until i find the right one, themes can be a pain.

    • Hey there, thanks for the update. I’m glad to hear that you’re liking the site and the content and that you continue to update your site. Did you get the email yesterday? Did you try downloading and installing the widget? I’d be interested to know if it worked for you. Thanks for dropping by

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