Installing and using themes in WordPress is one of the features which can change your blog’s look-n-feel overnight. This is an amazing flexibility it offers to its users.

In this article, we will see how to install a theme in WordPress both automatically and manually.

There are four main methods to install a WordPress theme:

  • Auto install a theme from WordPress themes directory
  • Upload and install a theme (zip format)
  • Install a theme with FTP
  • Install a theme via CPanel (Hostgator, Bluehost, Siteground etc.)
install wordpress theme

Before trying to install a theme, make sure you are login to WordPress as an administrator.

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Administrators have full permissions to install, activate and update WordPress themes so it is always a good idea to log in as an admin.

01. Auto install a theme from WordPress Themes Directory

The most easy method is to automatically install a theme from WordPress themes directory.

  • From your admin dashboard, go to Appearance > Themes

wordpress themes location

  • This is the central location of all installed themes. Click Add New button at the top.

add new wordpress theme

  • You will land right inside WordPress Official Themes Directory.

wordpress themes directory

  • The menu at the top will let you browse themes by Featured, Popular, Latest and Favorites categories.
  • Feature Filter menu item will let you further filter the options by multiple theme features like different layouts and subjects.

themes feature filter

  • Preview the selected theme if you want, and then press Install button to add the theme to your blog automatically. You have to Activate it later on to make it your Active theme.

theme preview and install

02. Upload and install a theme (zip format)

WordPress theme files distributed as zip files. Uploading a theme into WordPress is useful if you have already purchased and downloaded a theme.

  • In the Add Themes window, click Upload Theme button.

wordpress new theme install

  • Choose the zip file from your local computer and press Install Now button.

select theme window

The rest of the steps will be exactly same as above. You have to Activate the uploaded theme to use it.

03. Install a theme with FTP

The steps below will let you know how to use FTP to upload and install your WordPress theme manually.

  • First, unzip or extract your theme folder from the downloaded zip file.

Make sure extracting the zip file is not creating an extra folder inside the main theme folder.

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  • Login to your FTP account using WinSCP or FileZilla. See our article FTP easy setup for WordPress beginners for more details.
  • Open wp-content > themes directory from your remote location. This is the default themes location in WordPress.
  • Now drag and drop your theme folder from your local computer to the remote themes directory.

wordpress theme manual install ftp

  • That’s it. You have successfully uploaded the theme manually using ftp.
  • You still have to Activate it from your WordPress dashboard to make it your current active theme.

Install a theme via CPanel

Another way to manually install a WordPress theme is by using your web hosting CPanel.

  • Login to your CPanel and open File Manager. Your CPanel may be slightly different based on your web hosting service.

cpanel filemanager

  • Go to your home directory also known as public_html or www directory. Open wp-content > themes directory.

install theme via cpanel

  • Click Upload button at the top and select your zip file from your local computer.

cpanel upload wordpress theme

  • Once uploaded, right click the zip file and choose Extract to unzip the theme folder.

wordpress theme extract

  • You are done uploading your theme with CPanel.
  • Now go to your WordPress admin panel and Activate the theme.

Additional Readings


Sometimes installing a WordPress theme with one method simply doesn’t work so you must know multiple methods to install a WordPress theme both automatically and manually to save yourself from any trouble.

If you still have any questions, do let us know using the comments section below and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and Facebook

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