How do I install a WordPress theme? (WordPress.org)

This article will help you with your WordPress.org custom theme installation. Before you begin reading, make sure you have access to the theme you wish to install (which comes in a .zip file format) and your WordPress Dashboard. If you haven’t set up your WordPress yet, the WordPress Codex has some great WordPress.org installation instructions to get you started.

What’s the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org?

If you are looking for a quick, simple solution for a blog or personal website, you can sign up for a WordPress.com account. With this account, WordPress takes care of your web hosting and provides a bunch of built-in features and services to build your blog. Customizing your WordPress.com theme can take only a matter of seconds, as it’s all done through WordPress’s easy-to-use interface.

WordPress.org gives you much more control over the look and feel of your site, but requires you to do a little more of your own technical work. The WordPress Dashboard is still included and makes customizations really simply. Getting started might just take a few more minutes. In the end, using Wordpress.org can be much more rewarding, but it depends on how involved you want to get.

Before you can install your WordPress theme

Make sure your theme’s .zip is in an easy-to-find location on your computer. Once you’ve got that ready, you’re already halfway done the installation. You can install your theme a couple of different ways. The second way is a bit more technical, but if you’re interested in how websites work, you should definitely check it out.

Install a theme from the WordPress.org Dashboard Theme Uploader

If you’re not logged into your WordPress admin panel, head to your WordPress blog’s homepage. Once it has loaded, direct your browser to

http://your-wordpress.com/wp-admin

and enter the login details you created during your WordPress installation. If you did not set up your WordPress, you may need to contact your site administrator to give you the proper admin privileges.

Once you’re logged in, click on the Appearance tab in your sidebar, which will bring you to the Themes list of currently installed themes, and then click on Add New, which is along the top of the page next to the title of the page.

Now that you’re on the Add Themes page, the button next to the page’s title will be Upload Theme, which will take you right to the Theme Uploader.

The Theme Uploader form will appear, and you can now click on the Choose File button and browse your computer for the .zip file containing your theme. After that, just click on the Install Now button and wait a few moments as WordPress uploads the file for you.

Installing a theme from an FTP client

Want to flex your geek muscles? First, you’ll need to have FTP access to your site and an FTP client. FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol and is a standard way to transfer files to and from your websites. FileZilla and CyberDuck are both great cross-platform freeware FTP clients. You can get a full rundown on how to use FTP SiteGround’s FTP tutorial.

Extracting your theme’s .zip archive

For this installation, you need to extract the theme .zip yourself before uploading it to your server. If you are a Mac user, there is a built-in archive utility for extract archives when double-clicking them. For other users, you may need to download an archive utility like 7-Zip to unzip your archive. Once your theme .zip is extracted, you are ready to upload the enclosed folder to your WordPress blog.

Manually uploading your theme to the server

Log into your server with an FTP client and browse to your WordPress installation’s root directory. This varies depending on your web host, but will most likely be inside htcdocs, home, or html. From here, you can, browse to the themes directory:

your-wordpress-root/wp-content/themes

Once you’re inside this directory, you can upload the theme folder you extracted to it. Now you just need to wait until all of the files upload, which may take a few minutes depending on the speed of your internet connection.

Check to make sure your theme is in the Themes list

If all went as planned, your theme should now appear in the theme list. From your WordPress administration area, navigate to Appearance > Themes from the sidebar and check if your theme was added. You can activate your new theme by clicking the Activate Theme button that appears when you hover over your theme.

Still having problems?

If you didn’t find the information you were looking for anywhere in our  knowledge base or you’re still having some trouble getting your theme installed, don’t hesitate to contact our customer support.