Uploading WordPress Themes and Plugins through FTP with Filezilla

When I first started working with WordPress, the version I was using did not come with a built in mechanism to upload new themes and plugins to WordPress, whereas now that process for uploads and updates is fully automated.  Although I knew what FTP was, I did not know how to FTP a file from my computer to my site on my web host.

Finally someone said, “Just use Filezilla”. Bingo, problem solved.  FileZilla is a free FTP ( File Transfer Protocol) program, which allows you to upload or download files from your computer to your web hosting account.

Though you won’t have to use it for updates or upgrades, there are times when Filezilla comes in handy for changing out a file in a theme or uploading an image for a header. Here is how to use it.


Step 1. Download the free software from FileZilla’s homepage.  Once you have downloaded and installed the program you’ll be able to launch the program and proceed with configuring the settings to allow your computer to communicate with your web host account.

Step 2 To configure FileZilla to connect to your website please select  “File” then “Site Manager”.

Step 3. A “Site Manager” window will show up.  Click on the “New Site” button and enter a name for the new connection settings. (You can name it  anything, but best to name with your domain name to keep it straight so that you know where it takes you to).

Step 4.   Now you need to fill in your FTP account information in the box on the right side of the screen.  Please enter “Host name” ( ftp address),  “Server Type” ( FTP),  “User Name and Password” ( your web host account password) which are all available from your webhost.

Step 5.
Then click on “Connect” and cross your fingers that you have entered the correct information in the right boxes. If you  entered the information correctly it will connect with your server and populate the area on the right side of the program with folders that shows your website files on the server, ( the left side of the screen displays and gives you access to your local folders on your computer.

Step 6. One of the folders you see is your website main directory.  Typically if your webhost uses a cPanel server, your main root directory is called “public_html”. Your WordPress files should be in that file. The main WordPress files that a beginner needs to work with  is in a folder called “wp-content”. This is the file where you will find you “Plugins” folder as well as your “Themes” folders.

Step 7. To get new plugins or themes added to your WordPress Install through FTP, download zipped files of  plugins and or themes to your computer. When downloaded, extract them to a file on your computer. Drag the unzipped plugin or theme files, individually into either the plugin or the theme file as the case may be.

Step 8. Go to  the WordPress dashboard and go to “Appearance”, “Themes” and see that your new theme now shows up in the list of themes. The downloaded theme should be there. If not refresh, and it should appear ready to be activated. The same with Plugins. The downloaded Plugin should be in the list of “Plugins” and then you must activate it and configure each one as necessary.


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  1. cakesemimos says

    Hey, can u help me? I'm new wordpress user. I'm using Bitnami to custom a theme. I already did it, and I checked in themes folder and it's ok. I also actived the theme from the localhost.
    However, I see the old theme online. How do I active the theme? Can you help me?

  2. crochessories says

    Help! I have entered http://ftp.wordpress.com for the WordPress ftp server. I've searched all over the internet, and am having issues still. My login information is correct, and it says this ftp server is "OK", so I don't know what to do. I am using ClassicFTP.

    • says

      Hi, Is your site on WordPress.com or is it on WordPRess.org? There is a big difference. If it is .com then WordPress.com does the hosting of your site and you cannot use ftp to add things or customize it. You can only use the approved plugins and themes they offer you.

      If you have your own hosting account like with Blueshost or GoDaddy, then you can use ftp and have access to any and all themes and plugins. If so what goes into the localhosts is your domain name; For example my localhost is: http://www.newtricks.com The user name is the database user name which is different from what you use to login to the hosting account with. And the password is the password for your hosting account.
      Best of luck to you. It is tricky to learn all of this at first. Stick with it.

  3. says

    i just started making my website using wordpress & i needed to upload a theme to my wordpress blog .I had no idea how to do this. I have continuosly read many blog for atleast 5 hours but still it wasn't clear. After reading your blog all my doubts are clear. you explained so simply that a newbie like me can understand easily.
    My recent post Hello world!

  4. Lisa Bt says

    I'm a complete newbie – with no tech experience. I had the same problem as "kundan" above and this helped me understand first time – thanks.

  5. Ed S says


    I'm uploading a theme through FTP as the WordPress shortcut crashes the site.

    I am uploading the new Theme to into my Host FTP manually (not using Filezila).

    The Theme when expanded is dozens and dozens of different files and folders. Do I need to upload each to my WordPress Content folders in FTP management screen or am I looking for one file which will transfer all the information I need to make this work?

    Thanks in advance,

    • says

      Ed, I know we have been conversing by e-mail about all of this. I hope you got it squared away and either got a new theme or got the developer to fix the one that is blowing away your site. It shouldn\’t be that hard :-)

  6. Saroosh says

    Hey I followed all the steps above except one, where is the public_html folder you are talking baout? There is the "www" folder in my C drive and that has a wordpress folder which contains the plugins and themes etc. However after trying several times, the plugin doesnt showup on the dashboard at all. HELP!

  7. judi says

    When you get your site to confirm in the Filezilla site manager, you will have a left hand side of the screen ( your computer) and a right hand side ( your files on the web hosting account) Filezilla allows you to move things from your computer to your hosting account and back. The public_html folder is on your hosting account. Once you find that you open it up and you will see your WordPress files. ( but you have to install WordPress there in order to see the WordPress files). WordPress can't work from your C drive. go to WordPress.org codex and read the directions for installing WordPress. Or go to the hosting account, they usually have a one minute install option. Then WordPress will be installed on the host account and you can drag files into it that you need down the road.

  8. says

    If you are uncomfortable with filezilla (or any ftp program) and you need to upload via the server not the wordpress dashboard then you can do it using cpanel. Simply zip up your file go to your cpanel/publichtml/yoursite/wp-content/plugins and click the upload button, right click to unzip the file and voila – done. Also way easier to move files around like this without having to spark up a progam
    My recent post Build an E-commerce Store Using WordPress & Free Resources

    • says

      This was the biggest stumbling block for me when I first started with WordPress oh so many years ago. Now you don\’t have to do it through ftp but you do need to use ftp when editing files for backing up the files and making customizations.

  9. asfas says

    Hi i have installed theme of wordpress now i have FTP and i am working on filezilla so how can i create new page using filezilla and what will be URL for that page and where to upload new page….., Please help me pls pls please. Thanks, Rock.

  10. judiknight says

    You don’t need ftp to install a WordPress theme. I have a Program free called Getting Started wIth WordPress. SIgn up from the notification bar on my home page. That will walk you through what you need to know.

  11. says

    Hi Judi,
    First wanted to thank you for the explanation!
    So I tried to download a childtheme that I made, from Fillezilla to my site, and it also said ‘command succesful’ but when I’m looking on my site I can’t find the new theme. I already refreshed it a few times but I don’t see anything. Do you maybe know why this is?
    Thanks in advance!:)

    • says

      Elle, If you uploaded a theme through Filezilla into the wp/contents/theme folder that is where you would find it. Then you would have to activate it before it would show up on your site. You should be able to upload a theme these days without using filezilla through theme uploads on your dashboard under Appearances – Themes.

  12. Elles says

    Hi Judi,
    Thank you for your reply. I still can’t find it on my site. How can I activate it in FilleZilla? I also already tried to upload it via thema uploads on my dashboard, but then it says; that it’s not possible because it’s missing the style.css stylesheet. Really strange..
    Thanks for your help:)

    • says

      Some themes when you download them have the actual theme file folder inside the downloaded folder along with instructions ans so forth. Go to your desktop, open the file check to find the theme name.zip inside the other file. Then upload that file. It will contain the .css file which is the major file that is needed to make a theme work.