How to manually Install or Update a WordPress theme ?

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You’ve found the web design of you dreams, and it happened to be a WordPress theme. Here's a quick documentation to help you install it both manually with an FTP client (  what is that ? ) or the regular way, from your WordPress admin dashboard.

Pre-requisites for this documentation : you know  what is WordPress (wikipedia), you have installed WordPress on your domain name server, you know what is a WordPress theme.


Install or update a WordPress theme manually via FTP.

The File Transfer Protocol ( FTP) is the standard network protocol used for the transfer of computer files between a client and server on a computer network.

Get your FTP server credentials

You can login to your web hosting account to look for those access informations, or contact your  web hosting company to provide you with FTP server access details. 
You will need the following credentials :

  • FTP server URL, 
  • FTP username,
  • FTP password.

FTP application / program

You will need to know how to use a  FTP application / program.  We recommend using  FileZilla which is free, easy to use and released under the GPL.

You can refer to  this article on how to use FileZilla to access your server.

If you need an FTP or SFTP client for your Mac? Try  Cyberduck, which is also free and released under the GPL.

Prepare your theme for the upload on your server

If you are using a free theme like  Customizr or Hueman, you can download it from WordPress.org. You'll get a zip file of the theme, for example customizr.zip. ( what is a .zip file on wikipedia ? )

You need to unzip the theme file on your computer. Following the previous example, you should be seeing the  customizr folder when the unzip is complete. 

Uploading / Installing on your server

Say you want to install the Customizr free theme. Here are the steps :

  1. Login to your server using your FTP server URL, FTP username, FTP password
  2. Once you are logged in, navigate to your wp-content/themes/ folder ( if you can't find this folder, contact your web hosting company to get help )
  3. Upload your previously unzipped theme's folder from your computer onto your server's wp-content/themes/ folder. In Filezilla, uploading can simply be done by dragging and dropping the folder from your computer to the server.
  4. Wait for the uploading to start and complete, this might take a a few minutes if there are many files and folders to upload.
  5. Once the upload complete, your theme should be in wp-content/themes/customizr  in your server.

You can now connect to your WP admin dashboard, open the appearance > theme's page and you'll see the uploaded theme.


This article is primarily published for people who need to manually upload their theme on their server with an FTP client. The following chapter is simply a reminder, describing how to install or update a WordPress theme the regular way, from your WordPress admin.

Install or update a WordPress theme from your WordPress Admin

In order to utilize any of our themes, you’ll need to first install and activate them. The process is just like uploading a normal theme.

  1. In your WordPress dashboard, go to Appearance > Themes > Add New.
  2. From there you’ll see an option for “Upload” at the top of the screen. Click the “Browse” button, navigate your computer files and select the .ZIP file for your downloaded extension. For an in-depth documentation about WordPress theme manual installation, read the official WordPress.org documentation.

add-a-new-WordPress-theme

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Update a WordPress theme

If your theme is already installed and you wish to manually update it then do the following :

  1. In your WordPress dashboard, go to Appearance > Themes.
  2. Make sure you activate another theme during the update. A WordPress default theme like Twenty […] is usually a good choice during the update.
  3. Mouse hover the theme you wish to update, you’ll reveal the Theme Details clickable link. Click on Theme Details.

  4. On the bottom right corner of the pop-in window displaying the theme’s details, you’ll see a “Delete” red link. (If you don’t see the link, it means that the theme or a child theme of it is active, then go back to point 2 ). Click on the bottom right red Delete link.

  5. Install the new version of the theme as explained in the first chapter.

WordPress Theme activation

Simply activate the theme like you do for any other theme in your WordPress admin.

Once uploaded, click the “Activate” link.

Activation key settings if you are using Press Customizr pro themes

For the  Customizr Pro theme or Hueman Pro theme users : you will receive an activation key along with your purchase confirmation. As long as it is active, this key allows you to get automatic upgrades for the purchased WordPress theme and get access to the  support.

To activate your key :

  1. Go to Appearance > Customizr Pro Key
  2. Paste your key. (Where to find your activation key ?)
  3. Save, activate and you’re done.

External resources

  1. Install themes guide on WordPress.org
  2. Setting up FileZilla for Your Website ( wp.org ) 
  3. How to Upload Files and Folders ( wp.org )
  4. WordPress support forum reply