How to Install a WordPress Theme [2024 Step-By-Step Guide]

 Are you trying to learn how to install a WordPress theme?

Thousands of WordPress themes are available (both free and paid). As a beginner, you might want to try out a few of them on your site until you find the right one.

In this beginner's guide, we will share detailed step-by-step instructions on how to install a WordPress theme. We're going to cover three main ways to install a WordPress theme, so you can choose the method that works best for you.

Before you set up a WordPress theme

Installing a WordPress theme is easy, but keep in mind that if you activate a new theme, it will change the way your homepage looks and functions.

If you're switching from an existing theme, you might want to look at our checklist of things you need to do before you change WordPress themes.

If you're installing a WordPress theme on a new site, then you're on the right track.

Bonus Tip: Check out our list of the best and most popular WordPress themes.

If you're looking to install a free WordPress theme from the theme directory, the easiest way to do this is to use the built-in theme search functionality.

The first thing you need to do is log in to the WordPress admin area. Next, go to the Appearance » Themes page and click the Add New button.

On the next screen, you will have the ability to choose from: featured WordPress themes, popular WordPress themes, latest WordPress themes, search for a specific theme, or search for themes with specific features.

By clicking on the 'Feature Filter' button, you can sort themes based on features. For example, you can sort themes by subject, specific features, and layout.

On the basis of your search, you will see a list of themes that met your criteria. In our case, we've been looking for the popular Astra theme.

Just bring your mouse to the top of the image when you see the theme you want to install. This will reveal the installation button, the preview button, and the details button.

Go ahead and click the Install button

WordPress will now install your theme and show you a successful message along with the 'Activate' or 'Live Preview' buttons.

Click the Activate button, and you have successfully installed and activated your WordPress theme.

Depending on the theme, you can add additional settings that you may need to configure.

For example, your theme may ask you to install recommended plugins, download demo data, or review the settings.

You can follow the on-screen instructions or click the Customize button to start setting up your theme.

Install a theme using the WordPress Admin Upload Method

The first method we covered only allows you to install free themes that are available in the theme directory.

What if you want to install a WordPress premium theme from companies like StudioPress, Elegant Themes, Themify, etc.

Or what if you want to set up a custom theme? Well, in this case, you'd need to install the theme from your WordPress admin using the upload method.

Start by downloading file of the theme you purchased from a marketplace or commercial theme shop.

Next, go to the Appearance » Themes page in the WordPress admin area and click the Add New button at the top.

This will take you to the new theme page that shows the free themes featured. Since you already have the theme you want to install, go ahead and click the 'Upload Theme' button at the top.

You will be prompted to choose the zip file you downloaded earlier. Choose a file and click Install Now.

Once your theme is installed, you will see a message of success along with a link to activate and preview the theme.

Click on the 'Activate' link, and you have successfully installed and activated your WordPress theme.

Depending on the theme, you can add additional settings that you may need to configure either through a theme customizer or through a separate option panel.

Note: The theme upload functionality is only available for self-hosted users. If you are using, you won't see this option because it limits you.

You would need to use self-hosted to use the custom theme upload feature. (See this article explaining the difference between Self Hosted and

If you want to switch from to, read our tutorial on how to move from to

Install a WordPress theme using FTP

If you feel adventurous and want to take your skills to the next level, then you can learn how to install WordPress themes using FTP.

Remember, this isn't for true beginners, because it's a bit more advanced.

You need to download the theme zip file to your computer first. You need to unzip the file after that.

This will create a new folder with the name of the theme on your computer. We've downloaded the popular Divi Premium theme.

Theme files extracted

Now that you have the theme files, you're ready to upload them to your website.

You will need to connect to your website/WordPress hosting account using an FTP client to do this. If you need help, see our guide on how to use FTP to upload WordPress files.

Once connected, you need to go to the/wp-content/themes/folder. Inside, you will see folders for all the themes currently installed on your website.

Upload theme files to FTP

Select your unzipped theme folder from your computer and upload it to your website.

Once you've uploaded the theme, you'll need to go to your admin area and click Appearance » Themes.

You're supposed to see the theme that you uploaded listed there. Just bring your mouse to the top of the theme and click the Activate button.

Activate the theme uploaded.


Do you want a fast website?

Who am I kidding? Don't we all?

So why do so many of us struggle?

The biggest challenge is usually finding a fast, reliable hosting company.

We've all been through the nightmares - support take takes forever or doesn't resolve our problem always blaming something on your side... 

But the biggest bummer is that the website always feels slow.

At CollectiveRay we host with InMotion hosting and our website is stupid fast. We run on a custom stack of LightSpeed server setup on MariaDB with a PHP7.4 engine and fronted through Cloudflare. 

Combined with our front-end optimizations we reliably server 6000 users every single day, with peaks of 50+ simultaneous users. 

Want to get a fast setup like ours? Transfer your site for free to InMotion hosting and get our 50% OFF on current pricing.

Try InMotion Hosting with 50% OFF for CollectiveRay visitors in July 2024 ONLY!

InMotion hosting 50% OFF for CollectiveRay visitors

FAQs On Installing WordPress Themes

The following are some of the most frequently asked questions about installing WordPress themes.

How many themes can I use for WordPress?

You can only use one theme at a time. You can install as many themes as you like, however. Not all the themes installed on your WordPress site are active. As soon as you activate the WordPress theme, it will automatically deactivate your previous active theme and make the new theme your active theme.

What's a WordPress child theme?

A child theme in WordPress is a sub-theme that inherits all the features, features, and style of its parent theme. You will need to install both parent and child themes on your website and to activate the child theme. See our guide on how to create a child theme in WordPress and how to install a child theme in WordPress for more details.

What's the WordPress theme framework?

Theme frameworks are highly optimized WordPress themes intended to be used as a parent theme. Designed for advanced users and developers, these theme frameworks contain a number of code and speed optimizations that help other developers build on them quickly. The StudioPress Genesis is the best example of a WordPress theme framework. See our article on this WordPress theme framework for more information.

Premium vs Free Themes – Which one should I use?

If you're just starting out on a limited budget, then we recommend starting with a flexible free theme. See our selection of the best free WordPress themes for blogs and the best free themes for business websites. If you can spend a little more, choose a premium theme. These themes come with priority support, which is particularly useful for beginners. See our guide on How to Create WordPress Theme from Scratch.

How do I choose the best theme for my website?

There are so many WordPress themes out there, and most of them are professionally designed so they look really great. This makes it a little confusing for beginners to choose the perfect theme for their website. We recommend that you keep it simple. Choose a How to Create WordPress Theme from Scratch that comes close to what you've got in your mind. Make sure the theme looks great on your mobile phone and run a speed test on the demo site.

Can I use the same theme that I saw on another WordPress site?

If this is not a custom WordPress theme, you can find and use the same theme on your own website. See our guide on how to find out which WordPress theme a site uses.

We hope that this step-by-step guide will help you install a WordPress theme on your site. You may also want to see our guide on how to make money online from your new WordPress site, and what you need/best WordPress plugins. 

About the Author
David Attard
David has been working in or around the online and digital industry for the last 21 years. He has vast experience in the software and web design industries using WordPress, Joomla and niches surrounding them. He has worked with software development agencies, international software companies, local marketing agencies and now is Head of Marketing Operations at Aphex Media - an SEO agency. As a digital consultant, his focus is on helping businesses get a competitive advantage using a combination of their website and digital platforms available today. His blend of technology expertise combined with a strong business acumen brings a competitive edge to his writings.

One more thing... Did you know that people who share useful stuff like this post look AWESOME too? ;-)
Please leave a useful comment with your thoughts, then share this on your Facebook group(s) who would find this useful and let's reap the benefits together. Thank you for sharing and being nice!

Disclosure: This page may contain links to external sites for products which we love and wholeheartedly recommend. If you buy products we suggest, we may earn a referral fee. Such fees do not influence our recommendations and we do not accept payments for positive reviews.

Author(s) Featured On:  Inc Magazine Logo   Sitepoint logo   CSS Tricks logo    webdesignerdepot logo   WPMU DEV logo   and many more ...