How To Add and Manage Themes in WordPress

A theme is a template that gives you a certain look for your WordPress site. If you need to learn more about what a theme is and how to choose one, I would suggest you check out our in-depth guide here on our blog.

In this post, we are going to look at how to add a theme and how manage themes in your dashboard.

Installed Themes

If you go to Appearance > Themes, the first page you land on will show you the themes you have installed. Some hosting companies will pre-install certain themes for you.

Adding a Theme

There are several ways to add or install a new theme:


If you click on Featured, you will see the free themes that are features on that are available to install.


These are the free themes on that have been downloaded the most:


These are the free themes that have been added to the repository recently.

Feature Filter

You can also search through the free themes on by filtering your search for specific features you want in a theme.

Uploading a Theme

There is a good chance that you will at some point upload a theme. For example, if you purchase a theme on a premium theme site, you will download the file to you computer. Then, in order to install it, you need to come here and upload that file. Just be aware that the file must be zipped, or in a .zip format. Make sure when you download it to your computer from the site you bought it at, that your computer does not uncompress or unzip it.

Activating Themes

When you upload or install a theme, it will ask you if you want preview it, activate it or return to your theme’s page. Be aware that if you do activate it, this will take the place of the existing theme on your current site. You will not lose any content like posts and pages, but the formatting will probably go wonky. In the course on Themes, I show you what might happen when you change your theme. You can choose to preview it first and it will open up in the customizer.

Foy any theme you install, when rolling your mouse over it, you get an option for theme details.

If you click on that you, get a screen that gives you more information about the theme, and the chance to activate it, live preview it or delete it.

If you choose Live Preview, it will open up in your customizer and you can do some changes there to see what it would look like. Keep in mind that it’s only showing you the homepage. Until you activate it, you won’t know how other pages look.

Deleting Unused Themes

There is no reason to keep more than two themes installed on your site. If you have several of them, and for some reason they are not updated, even though they are not activated, they can be a security risk.

I recommend keeping just your current theme installed (or in the case of a child theme, your parent theme as well) and one other theme for a backup. Typically I choose whatever is the current WordPress default theme, eg. Twenty-Sixteen, Twenty-Fifteen, etc.

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