For Absolute Beginners Who are coming from Blogger/Tumblr to WordPress might face difficulty in installing a theme. Truly Speaking, I Faced Difficulty too, when I was a Beginner. But, no worries. This article will tell you 3 Common techniques used to install a theme on a Self Hosted blog.

The the 3 techniques I will discuss:

  • Via dashboard
  • cPanel/File Manager
  • FTP

Via WP Dashboard

If you have obtained the .zip file of the WordPress theme you are trying to install. Then this is the easiest and most suited method. All you need to do is, go to

WordPress Dashboard > Appearance > Themes > Add New > Upload

Just upload the .zip file, and then activate the theme from the following screen. If somehow, the theme installation fails by this method. Then it could be due to the following reason. .zip doesn’t include the direct theme folder.

Extract the .zip using WinRar or any other tool you have. If the .zip is correct, then you should see only a single folder(theme name), and that folder should contain a file called style.css). If you are seeing something else, then the .zip is not suitable for upload.

You need to look inside that folder to find another folder by the theme name, containing the style.css file. If you find such a folder, compress it as .zip and upload it. It should work.

cPanel/File Manager

Most Web Hosts Offer you some sort of Control Panel(cPanel, Directadmin, Kloxo). cPanel being the Most common. But, all these are almost similar. Each has a file manager option.

Go to the File Manager. Navigate to your Site’s folder. Once you are there, you need to further go to wp-content > themes. Somewhere towards the top of the screen, you will find and upload option. Using that option, upload the theme’s .zip file. Once you have uploaded the zip, it will show up under the themes folder. Extract the .zip. Now you will see a folder by the name of your theme. Verify that the folder contains the style.css file. If there is no such file, then do the steps we did in the previous method.

After uploading and extracting the theme in the file manager. You need to go to your WordPress Dashboard to Activate the theme. If the above process was done correctly, your theme will show up in the list of installed themes.


This is a relatively slow process, but widely used. Mostly, because many hosts do not offer the above options. Especially, those who are running their sites on VPS/Dedicated servers. To Use this method you need to Install a FTP Client on your Computer. Popular FTP Clients are Transmit(Mac OSX), FileZilla(Windows).

Before continuing with this post, you should google out the basics about using an FTP Client.

Once, you have logged in to your server via the FTP Client, you need to now again Navigate to your Site’s folder, and go to wp-content/themes/. Once you are there, you need to upload the extracted theme directly. Note that, earlier we were uploading .zip. But, now we need to upload the extracted theme. This process will take some time as the FTP client deals with the files one by one.

Once you have done this, you theme will show up in the list of installed themes. Activate it and Enjoy it.

Video Tutorials for the Above 3 Processes coming soon.



12 thoughts on “Popular Methods to install a WordPress Theme

  1. Hi
    I have downloaded the sixteen plus folder to my Mac and I am trying to upload the scheme into WordPress via the WP upload option. I have searched all the files that I have downloaded but I cant see a .zip file in any location in the Sixteen-plus folder.

    1. You need to install sixteen plus as a separate theme. Upload and Install it using any of the methods above.

  2. Hiya, just bought pro version of sixteen theme as it’s needed for my project in college. I just tried to upload the file and got the answer : “The uploaded file exceeds the upload_max_filesize directive in php.ini.” . what would i do now?

    1. You can either use the FTP method, or ask your web host to increase the upload limit on server to atleast 6MB per file.

  3. Hi,

    When I click on appearance and themes, there’s no Add new for me.
    I can only choose between free, new themes etc…

    How can I do to add my own theme ?

    1. This is because, your host doesn’t allow file uploads. Or some plugin is blocking it.

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