How to install a theme in WordPress? Step by Step Tutorial

Continuing with our series of step by step WordPress tutorials, today it’s time to install themes or templates, which has been greatly simplified in recent versions of WordPress but we still have to pay close attention to the preparation of the file we want to install.

There are several ways to install a theme in WordPress. The most basic is to look within our dashboard a theme we like, and simply click on Install. We also can install a theme (usually premium) from a .zip file. And finally, for advanced users, we can install it via FTP. We will talk about these last two. Here we go! 😉

I bought a WordPress premium template, what I have to do now?

Normally, when we acquire a WordPress premium template, we download a file that is going to be useful for the installation. Themeforest, MojoThemes o ElegantThemes usually follow the same pattern: to download a zip file.

The first step once we have downloaded the template is to inspect whether the file is what we have to install or not. This is not usually the case. In our case, templates we design come packaged in a zip file containing multiple files at the same time: the template file, a help file and a content file-demo.


What matters here are the first two files, the instructions and the theme, which we can normally identify with the name of Well, we extract these two files and read the file of instructions in case it gives us a different course of action.

Now I have my WordPress theme in ZIP

Perfect. Once we have located this file, it’s time to install it. Go to dashboard (usually and enter your username and password to log in.

Once inside, go to the section on the left marked “Appearance” and in the drop down click on “Themes.”


On this screen we can see the themes we have installed (usually the default themes) and the current themes we have actived [we have some of our themes on that picture as Carmela or Vowels ]. To add a new theme, click on the space marked “add new theme.


The following screen shows the WordPress repository themes. We want to perform an installation of a subject that is in a zip file in our system, so we click on the button “upload theme” located at the top.


The next screen shows a form to select a file from your computer. Just click on “select file” and look on your computer the zip file of the theme. When you locate it, click once on it and “open” it.


Correct, if all goes well, the theme name will appear on the screen, so if you click on the “install now” button you will install the WordPress theme in the folder / themes / available for use.

The theme has been installed correctly

That’s the message we all want to hear. If so, it’ll be on the next screen with several options. If not, do not be discouraged, surely the solution error is simpler and more common than you think.

Once installed properly, it will ask you if you want to see a preview view or activate it. I recommend you first to see a preview view to check how your website or blog would be like. If you see that everything is more or less ok, it’s time to activate.


Normally, the installation and activation of a theme requires some adjustments, such as designate or create a custom menu, add social icons, or if you’re a more advanced user, modify some design issue through CSS. In these previous links are the steps to follow for each of the points

Error to install a theme in WordPress

Sometimes WordPress is unable to install a theme. The causes can be diverse, but are usually related to poor preparation of the file.

So if you have problems installing your theme first make sure it has a zip file extension and size (usually between 200kb and 7000kb.)

The next step is to explore this zip file. We must find two possible scenarios: just one folder with the name of the theme, or all files php, css and js. Either is valid, but if not, WordPress will not be able to install the theme. The solution here would be to download the template and find the right zip file, or ask directly via forum author or the shop that designs that template support.

After installing and activating the theme, errors are displayed

First: be patient. If the error is located in the theme, you will get an error message saying in which file line is the error. This does not mean that the theme is damaged. You might have a conflict with the plugin.

The casuistry here is usually very diverse. It is best to disable all plugins and check the theme. If the problem persists, the theme is quite possibly damaged or incorrectly installed. Make sure you’re on the latest version of WordPress and your theme is compatible. If so, proceed to uninstall and reinstall again.

To install a WordPress template via FTP

If you’re a more advanced user, you can also install the themes via FTP. You will need to access the directory on the server where you have installed your WordPress, and navigate to the / wp-content / themes / folder where you can locate your theme folder and the files.

Always think that the style.css file should be directly under your theme folder, which in turn is directly under the themes folder with the following structure: /wp-content/themes/nameofthetheme/style.css

Some tips after installing your themes

Finally, just a few tips. If you have installed themes that you are no longer use, it would be good to delete them, because they can be outdated and become a gateway for malicious purposes.

Try to keep the themes you are using updated to avoid potential problems with WordPress updates and security. You will appreciate it in the future.

I hope you enjoyed the tutorial. Regards

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