How to install a WordPress theme

Okay, you already know how to install the latest version of WordPress and want to switch away from the default WordPress theme look, but have no idea how to do it? Here’s the tutorial for you, complete with screenshots so even a beginner can easily follow along. With this three-step tutorial you’ll have a new blog theme ready in no time.

There are a few automated ways to do this, but like our previous tutorial, we will be focusing on manual WordPress theme installation only. This tutorial assumes you already have WordPress installed on your host. It also assumes you are installing a “normal” theme, i.e. no advanced functionality that would require additional plugins or configuration.

Step 1: Download your theme of choice
Unfortunately WordPress can’t read minds, so you’ll have to pick out the theme you want to use. Call me biased, but some of the templates on our WordPress themes page are quite nice. For this tutorial we’ll choose the Blue Green theme. Click the download link, and save the .zip file to your hard drive.

WordPress Theme Zip Screenshot

Extract the /blue-green/ folder only. All you have to do with Readme.txt is read it (which is why it’s called a readme file) and isn’t needed for the next step – uploading the theme to WordPress.

Step 2: Upload the theme directory to WordPress
Seems simple enough, right? It really is, if you know where to upload it. Use an FTP client such as FileZilla to connect to your WordPress hosting account. Navigate to where WordPress is installed and locate the /wp-content/themes/ directory. Upload the /blue-green/ directory it. After you’re done, it should look something like this.

Uploaded Theme Screenshot

The hard part is now out of the way. The next and final step is to activate the theme within your WordPress admin panel.

Step 3: Activate the theme within your WordPress admin panel
Login to your WordPress admin panel, and navigate to the Presentation tab. You should now be at a screen that looks like this.

WordPress Theme Menu

Wow, look, you can already see the Blue Green screenshot below! WordPress reads the directory and searches for the screenshot image and stylesheet within it. Simply click on it, and your theme is activated.

Congratulations!  Theme installed.

That wasn’t so bad was it? WordPress makes it simple like that. If you still need help, feel free to ask in our general support forum for assistance. Feel free to leave a comment or subscribe to our feed if you liked this tutorial.

Comments  Leave a Reply

  1. craig musselman March 13, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    Okay, to all the beginners that are CONFUSED.

    To even GET to this tutorial, you are assumed to have done the following.

    1. Bought your OWN domain name. (eg. you went to the internet to a site like godaddy.com, or register.com, etc) and picked out a name for your website that YOU OWN, If you got to this point without using a credit card, you shouldn’t be using this tutorial. Anything you didn’t pay for is basically FAcebook and you can’t change the wordpress theme. It has to be YOUR site.

    for this example, we will assume you bought the name:


    2. Now you AGAIN used your credit card and paid someone to HOST what you bought in step 1. This means you are paying a monthly or annual fee for someone to store you files ON THE INTERNET. Are you paying monthly fees…if not you can’t use this tutorial.

    3. You have you domain name (eg. AllAboutMyLife.com) and it is on the internet stored on some company’s computer ready for you to put files on their hard drive.

    The tutorial states that you INSTALLED WORDPRESS. Did you do that? If you just logged onto some website and they asked you to enter your name and pick a password, you are not in the right place). You had to have your private website that you and nobody else is on or sharing. The disk space the company you paid should now have all the files for the bare bones of WordPress, because you UPLOADED THEM YOURSELF. NOW you are to the step of THIS tutorial.

    4. Access the files you UPLOADED onto the hard drive you paid to rent. You do this via an FTP server like filezilla, or win-scp3 or similar. If you don’t know how to do this go look for a tutorial for that (FTP upload)

    5. Copy the files from your hard drive at home using the Filezilla or similar onto the hard drive you RENTED on the internet. The bare bones wordpress you did in step 3 has some directories already if you did it right. The wordpress THEME you downloaded and unzipped on your hard drive at home has to be copied onto the rented hard drive on the internet. It goes into the directory called themes.

  2. Thank you so much for your help!

  3. Tynnisha Hamilton January 6, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    Thank you so much for this tutorial. I was close to pulling my hair out yesterday because I couldn’t get this figured out but now I’m set!

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