Help me install a WordPress theme.
July 12, 2011 4:27 AM   Subscribe

How to install a WordPress theme for dummies, please help!

I registered my domain and hosted on Dreamhost two weeks ago. I purchased a subscription to Elegant Themes last night and downloaded the zip file of the theme I want to use to my desktop.

I also did a one-click install of WordPress from my Dreamhost 'goodies' panel. WordPress then sends me an email with instructions and a link to WordPress. I go to the Appearance panel > Install Themes tab > Upload. I select the Zip file on my desktop and click Install Now. It then proceeds to install until.....

It reaches 99% and changes screen. Message states: Failure Notice, Are you sure you want to do this? Please Try Again.

I tried uploading enough times to realize I must be missing a step.

At this point, does anyone know what I'm doing wrong?

Also, the one-click install on Dreamhost allows me to access WordPress from the link that WordPress sent me. Do I also need to download WordPress to my Mac? I'm not sure what the difference is between what they sent me and actually downloading WP to my computer, unless it's simply what I need to update files.

Sorry if I sound like an idiot, I'm a nerd but not an extraordinarily smart one. Thank you for your help.
posted by modoriculous to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You can always use FTP to upload the theme to Dreamhost. What you need to do is to unzip the file locally and then upload the newly created folder to the directory /wp-content/themes/
posted by Foci for Analysis at 4:35 AM on July 12, 2011

Furthermore, you don't really need to download Wordpress to your computer UNLESS you want to keep a backup of your wordpress installation OR use FTP to download>edit>upload certain wordpress files (theme files, setting files, etc).
posted by Foci for Analysis at 4:40 AM on July 12, 2011

Have you tried installing a different theme, just to check things out?
posted by Segundus at 4:55 AM on July 12, 2011

Dreamhost has WebFTP, if you don't have an FTP program. First unzip the file, which should just be a matter of double clicking it since you're on a Mac. It'll create a folder with the same name as the theme, most likely.

1. Log into the Dreamhost Panel at

2. Navigate to Domains -> Manage Domains

3. Find your domain name, eg.

4. Under click WebFTP

5. Log in with your username and password (you should be able to keep other options as is)

6. Click wp-content to navigate to that folder

7. Click themes to navigate to that folder.

8. Click Java Upload (Flash Upload didn't work for me) at the top of the folder list.

9. Once the plugin is authorized, Click Add

10. Navigate and select your unzipped theme folder and click Add Files

11. Click Upload

12. Click the blue back arrow above the list of files.

That should help you out. You'll probably want to consider getting an actual FTP program at some point. Filezilla supports multiple browsers, and is pretty decent. CyberDuck is free for the Mac too. Personally, Transmit is my favourite, but it's not free.
posted by backwards guitar at 4:56 AM on July 12, 2011

Sorry, I should have been a little more specific. for items 6 and 7 you're clicking on the folder name in the list of files.
posted by backwards guitar at 4:58 AM on July 12, 2011

Oh, and I guess I took it for granted that you'd know, but just in case - once you've uploaded the folder to the themes directory, it should appear as one of your available theme choices when you are adding a new theme from the Wordpress admin.
posted by backwards guitar at 5:04 AM on July 12, 2011

Did you use the Dreamhost "Simple Installation" or "Custom Installation"?
posted by djb at 5:28 AM on July 12, 2011

Response by poster: All set! I actually figured it out and I just had to re zip specific files and exclude some that weren't necessary in the original download from elegant themes. I did use the custom installer because it said I would have a much larger ability to customize.

If anyone's still paying attention to this, can I just download Filezilla for both my Mac and PC and not have any issues as far as uploading files?
posted by modoriculous at 6:57 AM on July 12, 2011

Response by poster: Now that I think about it, do these theme files live on my desktop? Say I open one of them to make a change, then upload it via Filezilla. Do these files actually live on my computer? If so then I imagine if I'm editing from 2 different computers I have to somehow make sure the files are in sync etc.
posted by modoriculous at 7:00 AM on July 12, 2011

Depends on where you're editing your files, Modoriculous.

If you're using a editor like dreamweaver and changing the files that way, then you're changing them on your computer and you will have to upload it.

If you're changing the code via the wordpress dashboard, then you're changing the actual files on your server.

As for FileZilla, it depends on the top of files you want to upload. If you're talking new themes and such, it will be fine. But if you're talking multimedia (images, videos, etc).. I think you may have to upload them through the wordpress dashboard. Otherwise you won't be able to access them via the dashboard to embed them in posts. If you know how to translate where a file is on a server into a URL though, it's not an issue.
posted by royalsong at 7:10 AM on July 12, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks!

Where do I find the files of the theme I uploaded on my Wordpress Dashboard? I've been looking for them but can't find them anywhere.
posted by modoriculous at 10:42 AM on July 12, 2011

Under the appearance section should be an "editor" option. It opens with the main stylesheet and lists the other template files on the right.
posted by royalsong at 11:34 AM on July 12, 2011

Response by poster: got it, thanks!
posted by modoriculous at 12:05 PM on July 12, 2011

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