How to Change a Theme in WordPress

This brief WordPress tutorial explains how to change a theme easily using two different methods.

By reading this article, you will learn how to change your WordPress theme and how to add additional themes for free. Methods included in this article describe the procedure both from the dashboard and from Cpanel/Plesk.

All steps described in this WordPress tutorial include real scenario screenshots so new WordPress users can follow them easily. Pay attention to arrows in screenshots.

Changing your WordPress theme from the dashboard:

To change your WordPress theme, you need to login into your dashboard.

Find the Appearance option on the left menu and press it. Select Themes when the submenu is displayed (Appearance>Themes).

If the new theme you want to set as default is already installed, you only need to activate it by pressing the Activate button as shown below, in which the current theme is replaced with the Twenty Twenty theme.

If the new isn’t installed yet, continue reading further instructions below.

Your theme will be replaced with the newly activated theme.

If your new WordPress theme wasn’t installed, you need to add a new one from the same screen, the Themes section shown in the screenshot below.

Press the Add New button at the top of the screen, shown in the following image, or access the link http://<YourDomain>/wp-admin/theme-install.php?browse=popular where <YourDomain> must be replaced with your actual domain name.

The screen named Add Themes shows free available themes with preview.

On the top of the screen, you can find some basic filters and a search field. You can type the name or subject of the theme you are looking for; you can also include keywords like “Elementor” or “demo content”.

Filters include:

  • Popular: Display most used themes.
  • Latest: Display last added themes.
  • Favorites: Display most liked themes.

Next to the filters, you can find the Feature Filter button; you can use it to filter themes by functionalities like E-commerce, News, etc.

Once you select your filters, press the Apply Filters button.

After you find the WordPress theme you want to install to replace the current one, place the mouse cursor over it and press the Install blue button shown in the screenshot below.,

Once installed, press the Activate button to set the new theme as default, replacing the old one.

Now you can start customizing your new WordPress theme.

How to change your WordPress theme from Cpanel/Plesk:

You also can edit your WordPress theme from your hosting. This tutorial describes the process using Cpanel, but it’s very similar to Plesk and other hosting software management since all of them include intuitive interfaces.

To begin, login to your Cpanel or Plesk account and find the File Manager, which shows files in a similar format as the FTP view.

Once within the root directory of your website, find the directory named wp-content and access it.

Enter into the directory named themes, which contains all installed themes.

Within the themes directory, you will see all directories belonging to your installed themes.

In the next steps of this tutorial, we will define the default theme in the WordPress database, for which you need to identify the desired theme using the name of the theme’s directory shown in this step. Save the name of the directory of the theme you want to set to define it later.

If the theme you want to set isn’t installed, you can upload it compressed by pressing the Upload button.

Once uploaded, just extract the theme directory.

Go back to the Cpanel/Plesk main screen and find phpMyAdmin. Press it to edit the default theme from the database.

You will see a list of tables, and you need to find one whose name is wp_options or similar. The name may vary, as in the example below in which the table is named wpqo_options. When you find it, press it.

Here you need to find two rows; the first one is the template. To find it easily, you can define 500 as the number of displayed rows, and you can use the Filter rows field by typing the template as shown in the screenshot below. Then press the Edit button of the template row.

Replace the current theme name with the name of the new theme you want to set as default (the name of the directory of the theme you saw in previous steps).

Then scroll down and press the Go button to save changes and go back.

Now repeat the step to find the stylesheet row, type “style” in the Filter rows field, and press the Edit button of the stylesheet row as shown in the image below.

Again replace the current theme name with the name of the new theme directory.

Scroll down and press the Go button.

Now your new default WordPress theme is ready to be tested.


I hope this tutorial explaining how to change a theme in WordPress was useful. As you can see, changing the WordPress theme is an easy task any WordPress level user can execute.

It is important to note that the first method explained in this tutorial is the official and recommended way to replace your theme. Yet, the second method must work successfully and is a great alternative when there is no access to the dashboard. WordPress offers additional options like Theme Switcha, a plugin to preview different themes without activating them, or to allow visitors to switch the site theme by themselves.

Thank you for reading this WordPress article. Keep following Linux Hint for additional WordPress tips and tutorials.

About the author

David Adams

David Adams is a System Admin and writer that is focused on open source technologies, security software, and computer systems.