Overview Overview

A WordPress Theme is a collection of files that work together to produce a graphical interface with an underlying, unifying design for a website. WordPress has a diverse collection of Themes (and more are always added. You can browse them in the WordPress Theme Repository.

To activate a Theme, visit Appearance -> Themes in your website’s Admin Screens. You can change your Theme as often as you like without damaging your content. Also, as custom heading, backgrounds and widgets are stored, on a per-theme basis, in your database, you can switch back to a previous Theme at any point and recover all of your previous widgets etc.

Here’s an example of a Theme:

The Coraline Theme

To view all the themes available, visit the Theme Repository or access the Appearance -> Themes menu option in your website’s Admin Screens. If you do not see the Appearance menu option, this means that you are not an administrator on the website.

From Appearance -> Themes you can see your current Theme.

Please note that the currently selected Theme will not appear in the results when browsing or searching for other themes.

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Browsing Themes Browsing Themes

You can sort Themes by featured, by newest first, or recently updated:

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Searching Themes Searching Themes

Looking for a particular Theme or a Theme feature? Enter your keyword in the search box, click Search, and you’ll only be shown Themes that match.

Note that the search results will be sorted according to your viewing mode. If you’re viewing by Theme name they will be shown alphabetically, if you’re viewing by popularity they will be ranked accordingly, and if you’re viewing randomly the search results will be presented in the random order.

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Feature Filters Feature Filters

If you want to find a Theme with specific features, you can also search by Feature Filters. Feature filters appear underneath the search bar:

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Changing/Activating New Themes Changing/Activating New Themes

As you are browsing Themes you may want to try one out and see what it looks like. You can do this by clicking the Live Preview link that appears below the Theme.


If you already know this is the Theme you want, you can go ahead and click on Activate.

When you click on either the screenshot or Live Preview link, you will open the Customizer. The Customizer will allow you to modify certain aspects of your site depending on what Theme you are using. Theme developers can use the customizer to add various options.

You can scroll through the various options on the left hand side and see how it will look on your site on the right. Once you are happy with the changes click Save & Activate in the top right hand side of the left column.

Save and Activate

If you’re just not feeling the Theme, click the Close link found in the top left of the Customizer window to back out and continue browsing through the Theme repository for a better fit.

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Uploading Themes Uploading Themes

You can upload a Theme to your WordPress Admin Screens. So if you have designed and built a Theme yourself, or bought a commercial Theme, you can easily upload a .zip file containing the Theme. WordPres will unpack and install it for you. To do this, visit Appearance -&gt Themes and click the Upload link.

Upload link

Click the browse button, select the .zip file you wish to upload and click Install Now.

Upload link

WordPress will unpack and install the Theme. All you need to do is activate it!

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Widgets Widgets

Many WordPress Themes allow the use of widgets, which are custom tools that you can add to your blog’s sidebar to customize its content. You can add widgets to your blog from Appearance -> Widgets.

Widget-enabled Themes will include some default widgets. You will notice that when you go to Appearance -> Widgets, these default widgets will NOT appear in your Current Widgets listing. To remove the default widgets, simply go to Appearance -> Widgets and add any widget(s) you like to your blog’s sidebar. This will replace all default widgets with your own!

For comprehensive information on widgets, please refer to our widget documentation on the Codex.

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Video Video

Watch the “Choosing a Theme for your blog” video from WordPress.tv.

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Switching Themes Switching Themes

Switching Themes will not remove any of your content. However, you may need to reset your widgets, as not all themes have the same sidebars available, but all your content is safely stored in your database.

If your Theme uses Custom Post Types, you may lose the ability to see your posts, but they are also all safely stored in your database.