How to Install a New WordPress Theme Using a Zip File

install wordpress theme from zip file tutorial

This text and video Quick Guide covers something simple and important in WordPress: how to install a WordPress theme from a zip file.

Installing a WordPress Theme from a Zip File: When and Why

Most WordPress sites that have a serious purpose in mind should not be built on a free theme from WordPress’s official theme repository. Instead, you’ll want to pay for a custom theme (Astra and the Beaver Builder Theme are two we recommend—and note that we advise you to stay away from themes on both ThemeForest and Elegant Themes for the most part). These paid, not-in-the-repository custom themes are called premium themes.

Once you’ve bought your premium theme, what you’ll actually get will be a zip file (sometimes capitalized as ZIP file). It’s called this because it’s actually a file of type .zip, and the filetype is called that because what a zip file really is is an entire folder that’s been “zipped up” into a single compressed file.

Once you’ve got your premium theme zip file, you’ll have to install the theme manually. By far the easiest way to do this is by using the “Add New” theme uploader within your WordPress admin dashboard. This Quick Guide shows you how to do just that–and fortunately, it’s quite simple.

Video: How to Install a WordPress Theme From a Zip File

Here’s a video explaining how to manually install a WordPress theme from a .zip file:

And here’s a step-by-step written guide to the same information:

Installing a WordPress Theme Zip File, Step-By-Step

The basic steps to install a zipped WordPress theme manually are the following:

  1. Log in to your WordPress site, and get to the administration dashboard.
  2. Then, navigate to “Appearance > Themes”. This screen shows all your currently-installed WordPress themes. But we want to add a new one.
  3. To install a new WordPress theme, click the “Add New” button just to the left of the page title, at the top-left of the screen.
  4. This is mostly a search of the themes you can effortless install from To install your theme using a Zip file, you’ll want to click the “Upload Theme” next to the “Add Themes” page title. This will slide down to reveal a small area to you, which says, “If you have a theme in a .zip format, you may install it by uploading it here.”
  5. To upload and install your WordPress theme .zip file, you can either drag and drop the file into the area, of you can click the “Browse…” and use your operating system’s file-browsing to find the file.
  6. Once the zip file is set at the value, you’ll click the “Install Now” button to upload your WordPress theme.
  7. This will lead you to the installing screen. After installation of your themes completes, you’ll have the option to simply “Activate” (make it your currently shown theme) or “Live Preview” (which just shows it to you in the Customizer, and does not change what your visitors will see). Which of those, if either, you do I’ll leave in your capable hands.

Further Resources on WordPress Themes

If you want to learn more about the WordPress themes we currently recommend, see our review of the Beaver Builder Theme:

Beaver Builder Theme Review: Who Should Use It, and Why

See our experience building a code-free WordPress site with the Astra theme:

8 Things I Learned Building a WordPress Site without Code

And if you’d like to learn how to develop your own theme, see our free course on WordPress theme development:

Course: WordPress Theme Development (Core Concepts)

Thanks for reading!

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Nimesh Madushanka
March 15, 2020 10:07 am

Hey David,
Thank You for this quick tutorial.
Well, we should be uploading the Theme ‘unzipped’ when we are using FTP to upload the theme, right?
Since you are on macOS, we can easily use the unzipped theme file with FTP, if I’m right?
Keep sharing and Thank you again!

November 14, 2019 9:50 pm

Thanks a great deal Mr. Hayes, sorry I’m a newbie but this kinda made a very powerful impact really – concise and straight to the point. Thanks again.