When you purchase a WordPress theme you’ll generally get a download link for the zip file. To upload this theme to your site involves a couple simple steps.

  1. Log into your WordPress site, and go to “Appearances > Themes” menu item
  2. Click the “Add New” button at the top of the screen
  3. Click the “Upload Theme” button at the top of the screen
  4. Now choose the .zip file that you have of the theme click “Install Now”

Add New


Upload Theme


Overwriting a Theme

If you are uploading a newer version of an existing theme, you will likely get this message:

“Destination folder already exists. Theme install failed.”

In that case, you will need to temporarily switch themes (perhaps to the default). Find the theme you want to replace, click “Theme Details” and then click “Delete”. Now you can upload the newer version.

Additional Notes

  • If you use WordPress.com, you cannot upload your own themes.
  • If your zip file contains multiple themes, you’ll need to unzip it, and then re-zip each theme individually.
  • Purchase themes only from trusted sources- otherwise you run the risk of getting a hacked version (no fun).
Posted by:Devin

I'm a WordPress developer based in Austin, Texas. I run a little theme shop called DevPress and work for a startup called Nano. Find me on twitter @devinsays.

24 thoughts on “ How to Install a Purchased Theme ”

  1. Hi,
    I just upgraded to Portfolio+ and I can’t delete Portfolio Press. I’m trying to follow your instructions for Overwriting a Theme but I don’t see a Delete option to click.
    Please advise. Should I see a download somewhere?

    1. Commercial themes that you download can’t be used on WordPress.com. Self-hosted means you have your own hosting with a company like BlueHost, WP Engine, Siteground, etc.

  2. Hi,
    i have a problem with my wordpress, i can’t add any theme.
    When i go to my themes i don’t have a link where i can upload my theme, can you help me?

    1. Make sure you’re using a self-hosted version of WordPress (WordPress.com does not allow you to upload themes). Then, double check you have admin rights.

  3. I added a theme right but accidentally deleted it. I tried re-installing it but keep getting “Failed to write file to disk.” error. How can I fix this?

  4. Hi there,

    So the situation is this – I’m looking at starting up on WordPress.com and purchasing a theme to use with it. However, I notice at the end you’ve said “If you use WordPress.com, you cannot upload your own themes.” Is this in reference to a clever person who has designed a theme from scratch (beyond me!)? Or does it mean, if I buy this theme I’m after, I’ll have to not use WordPress.com? If so, what is the alternative to get started with this new theme?

      1. Why does wordpress.com give you the option of “upload theme” with the business plan if supposedly its not even possible?

  5. Hi Devin

    I have purchased a theme and also a domain name to host it on,

    What process do i need to follow now to upload my theme?

    Do i need to choose a wordpress plan?



  6. Hi Devin
    I want to ask that recently, I have purchased a theme and I want to know that if I upload this new theme it can effect on my publish posts or not ??

  7. Hi Devin , I understand how to install a theme now and I am using pressable to do this but do I also need to upgrade my wordpress site account to business from free as I cannot see add new under theme? I have purchased my theme from themeforest thanks

    1. Many of the providers on WordPress.com also sell a version for WordPress.org, you should check with the company that made your theme. But otherwise no, you can’t download the theme code if it was purchased on WordPress.com.

    1. Generally that’s because your browser is unzipping it for you upon download. Just right click on the download folder and rezip it, or update your browser preferences.

  8. Hello, ive built a website using a pirated theme. If i buy the theme, do i have to rebuilt the site from scratch or is there any other quicker way?

    1. Pirated themes can be bad news, often there is malware included in them which now has complete access to your server.

      I’d recommend deleting the pirated theme, running a complete security scan, and then making changes again to the purchased version. Unfortunately, I don’t think there is an easier way around it.

  9. Hi! I’m trying to upload my purchased theme and I’m getting the following error. Help!

    Safari can’t open the page. The error is “The operation couldn’t be completed. Is a directory.”

    Any ideas?

    1. Not sure. Are you sure the theme you’re uploading is a .zip file? If it’s a folder, you can usually just re-zip it for upload by right clicking and selecting “compress”.

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