How to Install a WordPress Theme: A Beginner’s Complete Guide

In creating or redesigning a WordPress website, one of the first things that need to be done is to install a theme. 

In this tutorial, you will be learning how to install a theme in three different ways.

  1. Installing a Theme via the WordPress repository
  2. Installing a theme via Manual uploading
  3. Installing a theme via FTP Client

But before anything else, let us get familiarized with the important terminologies first, to help us better understand the entire process.


What is a WordPress Theme?

A WordPress theme is basically a collection of codes (PHP, CSS, HTML, JavaScript, etc) that gives the base functionality and overall design of a website. And along with the thousands of WordPress themes available out there, it is important to highlight that a fast, well-coded, and updated theme is vital in creating a great website. A useful tip to remember especially for newbies who will eventually face the dilemma of choosing the right theme for respective websites.

WordPress Repository

WordPress repository (will be referred to as ‘repository’ – going forward) is a place where WordPress themes are being stored. Also referred to as ‘WordPress Directory’.

There are themes that are not found in the repository, common reasons are:

  1. If the theme is new. For a theme to be available in the repository, it takes around 6 months after it has been submitted since it undergoes a thorough review from WordPress themselves.


  2. If the theme is paid. These are very common for premium themes since they offer additional features that a free theme does not. And one of the places to get premium themes is Envato market.
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What is a File-Transfer Protocol (FTP) Client?

Commonly called as FTP. It is a software used to connect your local computer to your website’s server. With this tool, you can delete and add files directly without going back-end on your website.


Now that we have defined the terms. We will now tell you the three methods on how to install a WordPress theme.

Method 1: Installing a WordPress Theme through the WordPress repository

This is the simplest way of installing a WordPress theme as this does not include any manual downloading and uploading of any theme files.

Step 1: Go to Appearance > Themes

On the left side of the admin Dashboard. Go to Appearance > Theme. In this part, you are going to access the themes available in the repository.

Step 2: Search for a WordPress Theme

2.a Click Add new

How to install a wordpress theme
By default, you will have 3 themes pre-installed in a newly installed WordPress site, with the 'Twenty Twenty' activated.

2.b Choose a Theme

You can start by simply browsing on the repository. You can check different categories in the tab. 

If you have a particular theme name, you can search for it on the search bar. 

In this example we use the ‘Hello Elementor’ theme. Best with using Elementor for designing a website.

Step 3: Install the Theme

After choosing the theme, click Install.

How to install a wordpress theme
At the left part, of the dashboard you can check the ratings of the theme.

Step 4: Activate the Theme

Click Activate.
How to install a wordpress theme
The theme is now active on your website.

Method 2: Installing a WordPress Theme via Manual Upload

Step 1: Download the Theme Files

You need to go directly to the website where the theme is created. In this example we will use Kadence Theme, so we need to get to their website and download the theme files. 

How to install a wordpress theme

Most of the time, the theme files are inside a .zip file.How to install a wordpress theme

Step 2: Upload the Theme

2.a Go to Appearance > Themes > Add New

2.b. On the upper part of the dashboard, click 'Upload Theme'.

2.c. Click 'Choose File'. Browse for the theme file you just downloaded. Hit 'Open'.

2.d Click 'Install Now'.

Step 3: Activate the theme

Click Activate

How to install a wordpress theme
The theme is now properly activated on your website.

Method 3:Installing a WordPress Theme through an FTP Client

This is quite an unusual way of installing a theme since this is lengthy and a bit complicated. One common reason for this is that when you choose a theme with a large file size, uploading it manually inside the admin dashboard may take up a lot of time.

Step 1: Download an FTP Client to your PC

The most common FTP clients used nowadays are 

  1. FileZilla (recommended)
  2. Cyberduck 
  3. FireTP

Step 2. Create an Account with your Hosting Provider

You need to set up an FTP account with your hosting provider. Please take note that this is different with every hosting provider.

*In this example, this is how you create an FTP account in SiteGround.

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Step 3. Download the Theme File and Unzip it.

Unlike the other two methods, when uploading via FTP you need the files unzipped. This also applies not just in installing a theme but also other files, like plugins

You can get the files by simply extracting the theme .zip file. Just select the .zip file, right-click and hit ‘Extract Here‘.

Step 4. Upload the Theme Folder on the Website Server.

Open the FTP software, then log in using the credentials you just created in step 2.

Go to /wp-content folder and go to the folder named Themes. Lastly, drag the folder into the FTP dashboard.

Step 5. Activate your freshly installed theme.

Go back your admin dashboard. And activate the theme.

Conclusion: How to install a wordpress theme

And there you have it, this is how you install a WordPress theme. Whatever method you choose, you are now one step closer to creating your beautiful and professional website. The next thing you have to do is to install plugins that will give your website the functionality that it needs.

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