How to Install a WordPress Theme for the First Time User

In my previous guides, you have learned how to make a wordpress website, and here I am going to teach you How to Install a WordPress Theme using 3 methods. Many of you already know basic settings of WordPress like installing themes, adding plugins but there are also many newbies to WordPress platform. For all the First Time Users, I am creating this simple guide to Install and Change WordPress Theme. But before we move forward, I would like you to read the following guides if you have not read before as these guides are prerequisites to this article.

As a beginner, you probably have heard about tons of free and premium themes. If you are just starting out and are new to blogging and WordPress, you may want to try out a few themes on your blog until you find the right one that fit your needs. 

In this Guide, I am providing you with detailed step by step procedure on how to install a WordPress theme on Blog. So here are all the 3 methods used to install a WP Theme which I am covering below. 

Method 1: Install a WordPress Theme from WP Dashboard Theme Search

This is the simplest method to install a theme on your blog. Using this method, you can easily install a free WP Theme from the WordPress Themes Directory, by using the theme search option provided in your WP Dashboard.

To install a new theme, simply login to your WordPress Blog/Website and head over to Appearance ⇒ Themes. 

how to install wordpress theme step by step

Clicking on Appearance >> Themes Option will take you to the Themes Page, Now Click on the Add New Button as shown below in picture.

add new wp theme

On the next screen, you are provided tons of options to select from: Featured Themes, Popular WordPress Themes, Latest WP Themes and Featured Filter.

You have the ability to select from: Featured WordPress themes, Popular WordPress themes, Latest WordPress themes, search for a specific theme, or search for themes with specific features from which you can select your theme that suit your needs based on following factors:

  • Subject like Niche of your website (Blog, Education, News etc)
  • Features like Custom Colors, Custom Logo, Theme Options
  • Layout like Grid, Two, Three or More Column, No. of Sidebars etc.

select theme

Based on your specific filters and features you selected, you will see a single theme or a list of themes that meets your needs. You can also search any theme by name. In our case, we searched for the WP theme Awaken.

When you see the theme that you want to install, simply bring your mouse on top of the theme preview image. This will display the install button, preview button, and details button. Go ahead and click on the install button.

install theme

WordPress will begin installation of your new theme and show you a success message “Installed” along with the link to activate or live preview.

activate wp theme

Click on the activate button, and you’ve successfully installed and activated your New WordPress theme.

Method 2: Install a WordPress Theme by Upload Option from WP Dashboard 

In the first method that I covered above, you can install any theme that is available in WordPress.org Theme Directory. But what if you want to install some custom or premium theme from some other reputable companies like StudioPress, My Theme Shop, Theme Forest etc.

In this case you can easily install any custom or premium by uploading it from the upload option available in WP Admin/Dashboard Area. You need the upload the .zip version of theme that you have got to install.

Here are few steps explained with pictures that will let you to change your WordPress Theme easily using Upload option.

Firstly, Login to your WordPress Website and click on Appearance » Themes.

how to install wordpress theme step by step

By clicking on Themes Option, you are then taken to themes page, where you need to click on Add New Button as shown below

add new wp theme

On the next Add Themes Page, Click on Upload Theme Button, as shown below

upload new theme

You will be then asked to choose the zip file of the theme that you downloaded or saved to your computer earlier. Select the zip file from the location where you saved on your computer and click Install Now. ( I have downloaded the MH Magazine Lite Theme on my computer in .zip format)

choose zip file of wordpress theme

Once your new theme is installed, you will see a success message along with the links to activate or live preview the newly installed theme.

how to change wordpress theme

Click on Activate, and you’ve successfully installed and activated your New WordPress theme using second method. Depending on your theme, you need to add further customizations as per your needs that you can configure either through the theme customizer or through a separate options panel as provided in theme.

The second method (Upload Theme) is only available for WordPress.org (Self Hosted). If you are using WordPress.com, you may not use this feature because of certain limitations. If you further want to know the differences, then read this article that explains the WordPress.org vs WordPress.com Comparison

Method 3: Install a WordPress Theme using FTP or Cpanel.

This method is usually preferred in the following cases:-

  • If you want to Install Multiple Themes
  • When your server security doesn’t allow you to install theme and plugins from the WP Dashboard
  • If installing New theme from WP Admin Area gives some error
  • If you are familiar with using FTP and Control Panel, then you can do this Manual WP Theme Installation

Remember, this method is not recommended for New Beginners as it includes some advanced stuff and Use of FTP or cPanel. To Install a theme using this method, you need to have access to your cPanel or you can also use FTP Software like FileZilla.

If you are uploading new theme using FTP, then the very first step you need to need to perform is to unzip your theme .zip file using some software like WinrRar.  If you don’t have any such software installed, download the free version of WinRAR from the official site and install it. Once installed, right-click on .zip theme file and select extract to unzip version.

If you want to upload New Theme directly through cPanel then there is no need to unzip the theme. You can directly upload the .zip file in your wp-content/Themes folder in cPanel and from there you can unzip the file. I will show you both cases with screenshots.

Case 1: When you want to upload new theme directly from cPanel

First of all, login to your cPanel Account, and and locate to File Manager and the look for wp-content/Themes folder of your WP Installation Directory. Once you are in wp-content/themes folder, you will see a list of all the themes which are previously installed on your WordPress Website.

Now to upload a new theme, click on upload button and choose your .zip file.

zip file upload wp

As you can see your new .zip theme file has been successfully uploaded in themes folder. Now in order to use this theme on your WordPress Website, you need to unzip/extract this file. Simply, right click on .zip file and click extract. Your new file will be extracted in wp-content/themes folder. After unzipping the file, delete the .zip file.

Now you new theme has been successfully uploaded in your themes folder. 

Once you have uploaded the theme, you would need to go to your admin area and click on Appearance » Themes.

You should see the theme that you uploaded using cPanel. Bring your mouse on top of that theme and click on the activate button in order to use that theme.

Case 2: When you want to upload new WP theme using FTP

To get started with FTP method to install the theme, you need to have an FTP software like FileZilla. Apart from FTP, you need to have software like WinRAR to unpack the .zip file. Because in this case, you need to directly upload the unzip version of the theme to wp-content/themes folder. 

unzip wp theme

Now login to your FTP manager using your FTP (SSH) Credentials which you can get from your hosting account and locate to wp-content/Themes folder or your WordPress installation and upload the unzipped theme directly. So in case, I will directly upload Unzipped folder to my server using FileZilla.

wordpress theme upload ftp

Once you are in wp-content/themes folder, Right click on your unzipped file (shown in left) and click upload. 

how to change wordpress theme ftp

Your new theme will be successfully uploaded to your themes folder. Now it’s time to preview and activate the theme.

Go to Appearance> Themes, and you will see a list of all installed themes on your WordPress blog. You can Preview or activate the theme directly from your dashboard.

So, I have shown you all the methods to Install or Change a WordPress theme. You can use any of the method depending on your need. I hope this step by step guide helped you install a WordPress theme on your site. 

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