How to Install WordPress Theme (Step by Step)

Do you know that why WordPress website is so popular for now? Because WordPress.org supports to install the third party plugins and themes which make a website created with WordPress.org more powerful. Any kind of needs on WordPress website can solved by plugins and themes. There are tons of free and paid themes available for WordPress website. In this article, I will show you how to install a WordPress theme for your website with three different methods: install a theme with automated theme installer, install a theme by uploading on WordPress admin area and install a theme via SFTP.

Before you begin

This guide assumes your website is created with WordPress.org, because WordPress.com has its limitation including theme support, no plugin allowed and limited monetization unless you upgrade to their premium membership. Contrarily, WordPress.org allows you to design and customize your website with WordPress plugin and theme.

Install theme with the automated theme installer

For beginners, the easiest way of installing a WordPress theme is to use the automated theme installer. The automated theme installer can be used to install all themes listed in the WordPress theme directory.

Go to WordPress admin area, click on Appearance>> Themes>> Add New. In general, the current active theme appears first in the top left corner.

Add a new theme for installing a theme

This will take you to next page on which you can find addtional themes for your site. Using one of the three search methods below, you can find the preferable theme to install it:

Filter search – themes are classified three categories including Featured, Popular and Latest.

Keyword search – enter keyword such as theme name, author or tag.

Attribute search – click on Apply Filters button and filter theme by using the attribute of Subject, Features and Layout.

search a theme for installing theme

The search result will display a single theme or a list of themes which filtered by WordPress depending on your criteria. If you find the theme which you intend to install, move your cursor to the theme, which disclose the two button, Install and Preview buttons. Click on Preview button, you will be provided with the name of theme, the theme version, the theme author and a short descriptionof of the theme. Click on Install button to install the theme.

The search result displays for the theme will be installed

Once installed, the Install and Preview buttons are replaced by Activation and Live Preview buttons. Upon installation, click on Live Preview button and you can preview how your blog will appear with this installed theme. Although theme installation is finished, but the theme doesn’t work yet, unless you activate the installed theme by clicking on Activation button.

Activate the theme

Upon activation, you may need to configure addtional setting for your website depending on the theme. This method just works to install a theme listed in the WordPress theme directory.

Install WordPress theme using the upload method

What if you want to install a theme purchased from the theme provider? Well, WordPress is designed to install a paid theme or a cutome theme by uploading. the upload method is for any theme that is located in a zip file on your computer, including the paid theme and custome theme. In this part, we will describe how to install the WordPress theme by uploading.

First, download the WordPress theme from the theme provider and save the zip file on your computer.

Go to WordPress admin area, and click on Appearance>> Themes>> Add New.

Add a new theme for installing a theme

on the next page, click on Upload Theme button at the upper left corner to upload theme page. Click on Choose File button to choose the earlier downloaded file on your computer, click on Install Now button to start uploading and installing theme, which lasts for a little bit while depending on the size of theme file and network performance.

Upload a theme

Once installed, you are taken to the next page, you need to click on Activate link to make the installed theme take effect.

Activate theme

After activation, you need to configure addtional setting for your website depending on the theme. This method works for all free and paid themes which are zip files located on your computer.

A manual method via SFTP connection to install WordPress theme

There is an alternative method to install WordPress theme, but it might be a little bit challenge to beginners. There are many free and paid SFTP application for any system, choose the preferable one to upload the theme file. In this guide, we use WinSCP to upload the theme file.

First, we need to download WinSCP and install it. When you log in WinSCP, you need host name, user name and password, you can get these information from your web hosting.

Once connected to your server with WinSCP, you will find that the control panel consists of two file manager panels. The right file manager panel is for files on server and the left one for the local files. You need to go to the path (/wp-content/theme/) in which you need to upload the theme file.

Before upload the theme file, you need to extract the theme file with zip format. After that, choose the extracted theme folder from the left file manager panel, drag it and drop it in the right one. And a window pops up, you can see the uploading process on the window. The uploading process will lasts for a little while depending on the theme file and network performance.

upload theme with WinSCP

Once uploaded, you need to go to WordPress admin area, click on Appearance>> Theme. You will find the earlier uploaded theme is displayed, and you need to activate it manually by clicking on Activate button.

Activate the theme

Upon activation, you need to configure the addtional setting for your website depending on the theme.

I hope this article helped you learn how to install a WordPress theme. You may also be interested in our guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

For now, I look forward to reading your comments on how to insatll a WordPress theme for your website and which way is easiest to beginners. Let me know in the comments!