How to Install a WordPress Theme – Guide for Absolute Beginners

After successfully setting up your WordPress site, you might be looking for a way to change its look and feel. Themes are the answer, be it free, premium or custom-made.

In this post, let us see the different ways by which you can change or install a WordPress theme. As of 2019, WordPress comes with the default theme Twenty Nineteen. It is really a simple thing to switch the theme to your favorite one with a few clicks. Even though it is simple, I will try to explain each step in detail so as to avoid any confusion.

This guide assumes that you are using a self-hosted WordPress. So let us begin…

Basically, there are three approaches for adding a theme:

  1. Finding & installing a free theme directly from the WP Admin
  2. Installing from a zip file – this method works for all themes, free or premium
  3. Uploading to the themes folder via an FTP client like Filezilla

Installing a free theme from WordPress Admin

The WordPress.Org website has a theme directory which contains a lot of good quality yet free themes available for anyone to use. The same interface is available inside your WP dashboard which enables you to find any of these themes without leaving your site.

Log In

After logging in, click on the Themes sub-menu under the Appearance menu on the left side of your admin area.

Themes page

Now if you look at the address bar of your web browser, you can see that you have arrived at the URL – yourdomain/wp-admin/themes.php. This page shows the details of all the themes currently installed on your site. The active theme shows up in the front.

Add Themes page

Towards the right side of the title Themes, there is a button saying Add New. Click on it to arrive at the Add Themes page –

By default, this page shows the details of all the featured themes in the directory. You can also view the Popular, Latest, and Favorites categories also. However, the Feature Filter and Search box are the most useful if you want to find a particular theme from the directory.

Example: Suppose you need a photography theme with a grid layout and featured images. Click on the Feature Filter button to open the list options. You will see three columns – Subject, Features, and Layout. Check the required options from these columns and click Apply Filters. You get a list of themes which matches all the selected options.

Hover over any theme image that you like. You can see two buttons – Install & Preview. Before installing, quickly check the Preview and ensure that you like the theme. After Previewing, close the dialog. Now click the Install button. After it completes, the buttons are now Activate & Live Preview (instead of the earlier Install & Preview).

Before clicking Activate, spare a few seconds for Live Previewing and ensure that everything is in place. Verify that nothing is broken. If OK, click Activate & Publish.

That’s it. Your new theme is now live.

These are the full steps with screenshots:

How to Install WordPress Theme from Directory

Installing Theme from a ZIP file

Now let us see how to install a theme from a .zip file. This is the preferred method whenever you want to install any premium theme you buy from the various theme marketplaces.

Firstly, ensure that you have the zip file downloaded saved on your computer.

Then, log in to your dashboard and navigate to the Themes section. Click the Add New button on the top.

Now you should see the Add Themes page. Now click the Upload Theme button to open the file browser area. Click the choose file button and select the zip file from wherever you have saved it. Then click the Install Now button.

Install WordPress theme from zip file

After installing, Live Preview it and Activate the theme.

Uploading to the themes folder via FTP

Finally, there is another way to upload a new theme. You can follow this if you are comfortable uploading files to the server via an FTP client like FileZilla. Otherwise, if you a beginner, you should not try this unless you are unable to upload a zip file using the above method.

For this, extract your theme folder out if the zip file.

Open the FileZilla program and connect to your server.

Navigate to wp-content/themes folder on your server. Now upload the theme folder to this location.

Install theme via ftp

Once the upload completes, log in to your WordPress dashboard and go to the Themes page. There you will find the newly uploaded theme. Live Preview it and Activate it.

Hope this has helped you. Ask in the comments if you have any questions.

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