WordPress Theme Not Installing (11 Quick Fixes)

wordpress theme not installing
Disclaimer: You should contact your web hosting provider, theme developer, or plugin developer if you face the issues described in this article, as fixing them yourself may break your site. Always take backups of files like .htaccess, php.ini, etc. before modifying them. This site is not responsible for actions taken by you based on the advice/guidance/suggestions given in this article.

Are you facing any issues with your WordPress theme not installing on your site?

Some time back I had an issue on my website that took me a couple of weeks to fix.

The reason for taking such a long time to fix the issue was that I was not aware of the solutions back then.

But, as I researched it, I came to know about many other issues and their solutions.

So, I decided to write it all down for you so that you can save a lot of time yourself.

So, let’s begin!

Common theme installation errors and the fixes

Memory Size Error

Fatal error: Allowed memory size of 33554432 bytes exhausted.

  • Reason: Your web hosting provider has set a low PHP memory limit.
  • Fix: Open the wp-config.php file in the WordPress directory by logging into your server through cPanel or FTP and add this line – 
define( 'WP_MEMORY_LIMIT', '256M' );
  • Alternative Fix: Contact your web hosting provider for support.

File Size Error

The uploaded file exceeds the upload_max_filesize directive in php.ini

  • Reason: The file size of your theme is greater than the limit set in the php.ini file.
  • Fix: Open the php.ini file in the wp-admin folder of the WordPress directory by logging into your server through cPanel or FTP. If the php.ini file is not in the folder, create the file. Then add the following lines –
upload_max_filesize = 800M
post_max_size = 1500M
memory_limit = 2800M
file_uploads = On
max_execution_time = 120
  • Alternative Fix: Open the .htaccess file in the root directory of your server and add the following lines – 
php_value upload_max_filesize 800M
php_value post_max_size 1500M
php_value max_execution_time 120
php_value max_input_time 120

The Bad Format or Empty Response Error

Didn’t send any data (ERR_EMPTY_RESPONSE)

  • Reason: Either the file is corrupt or there is not enough space on the server.
  • Fix: Contact the theme developer first and get the correct theme files. If this does not resolve the issue, contact your web hosting provider.

Files Missing Error

The package could not be installed. The theme is missing the style.css stylesheet

  • Reason: Either you have downloaded the wrong theme file or you were trying to upload the wrong version of the theme file.
  • Fix: Check that you have downloaded the correct theme file that you have purchased. Ensure that the zip file of the theme is not inside another zip file.

Max_Execution Error

Fatal Error: Maximum execution time of 30 seconds exceeded

  • Reason: A PHP script of either the theme files or plugins is taking too long to run.
  • Fix: First, deactivate all the plugins. Then activate them one by one and find the plugin that is causing the issue. If this does not resolve the issue, open the wp-config.php file on your server and insert the line – 
  • Alternative Fix-1: Open the .htaccess file on the server and insert – 
php_value max_execution_time 300
  • Alternative Fix-2: Open the php.ini file on the root folder of the server and insert – 
max_execution_time = 300

White Screen of Death

The screen is completely white.

  • Reason: Either the theme is not compatible with your current WordPress version or there is a plugin conflict.
  • Fix: Read the theme documentation and see whether the theme supports your WordPress version. If not, either update or downgrade the WordPress version or the theme. If this does not resolve the issue, deactivate all the plugins and find out which plugin is creating the conflict.

Syntax or Parse Error

Syntax error
Parse error

  • Fix: Contact the theme developer for support.

Miscellaneous issues

WordPress theme not working on mobile

  • Reason: There is a plugin conflict.
  • Fix: First, deactivate all the plugins. Then activate them individually and find the plugin causing the issue. Decide whether you need that plugin for your website. If you need it, you will have to contact the plugin developer and get their support. You can also contact the theme developer. If these steps do not resolve the issue, get a different theme for your website.

Locked out of WordPress

  • Reason: You do not have administrative privileges to install themes on the website.
  • Fix: Request the administrator of the website for permission to install a theme.

Cannot install a theme on a multi-site WordPress installation

  • Reason: Either the theme does not support multi-site installation or the network administrator has disabled the installation of themes on the multi-site network.
  • Fix: First, see whether the theme supports the multisite installation feature. If this does not resolve the issue, contact the network administrator and get permission to install the theme on the website.

The button Add new theme not showing WordPress

  • Reason: It is a WordPress multisite website.
  • Fix: Install themes from the admin bar -> Network Admin -> Themes

Basic Steps for installing a WordPress theme

You can save a lot of trouble later if you follow the correct steps below to install the WordPress themes.

Where to download the latest version of a WordPress theme?

If you are installing a free theme from the WordPress library, always see that it is compatible with the WordPress version installed (Fig.1).

checking WordPress theme compatibility

If you are downloading a premium theme, see the WordPress version and the plugins it supports in the theme documentation.

Always download a theme from either the WordPress theme library or the marketplace where you have bought it, or from the theme developer’s site.

Avoid using a null theme as it may contain malicious codes.

Installing a WordPress theme correctly

There are 2 ways to install a WordPress theme correctly.

For free themes, go to the Themes screen by clicking Appearance -> Themes and then click the Add New button to go to the WordPress themes library (Fig.2).

add new button in WordPress

Then choose a theme and install it.

If you have purchased a premium theme for your business, use the Upload Themes button in the WordPress themes library (Fig.3).

upload themes button in WordPress

You can also install a premium theme by uploading it to the themes folder in the WordPress directory using FTP or the File Manager in the cPanel.

Installing a child theme in WordPress

Always try and install a child theme if it is provided by the developer.

Installing a child theme will help you to keep your custom codes intact after a theme update.

Updating your WordPress theme

When an update is available for your themes, there will be a notification on the Themes page in WordPress (Fig.4).

update now button to update a WordPress theme

Click the Update Now link to update the theme.

Upgrading from a free version to the paid version of a WordPress theme

The process of upgrading from a free version of a WordPress theme to a premium version varies from theme to theme.

Please check the theme documentation after purchasing it.


Why won’t my WordPress theme install?

Your WordPress theme may not install for various reasons like insufficient memory, insufficient space on the hosting server, wrong zip file, corrupt theme file, plugin conflicts, etc.

How do I fix WordPress installation?

You can fix WordPress installation issues either yourself if you are comfortable with modifying codes or by contacting either the theme developer, your hosting provider, or the plugin developer.

How do I reinstall a WordPress theme without losing data?

To reinstall a WordPress theme without losing data, first, take a backup of the WordPress files and the database. Download the theme file in zip format from wherever you purchased it from. Then click on Appearance -> Themes-> Add New and upload the zip file of the theme by clicking on the Upload button. Click on the Activate button. Then click on the Replace current with the uploaded button.

How do I completely uninstall and reinstall WordPress?

To completely uninstall and reinstall WordPress, first, take a backup of your site. Then to export all the current content of your site click Tools -> Export in WordPress and select All Content. Download the exported file. Then download the wp-content folder by logging into your site through FTP. Then delete all the files in the public_html folder.

Now, create a new database using cPanel.

Download the latest WordPress version and upload the files to the public_html folder.

Next, go to your website, enter the new database information, click on Submit -> Run Install, fill up the required information, and install WordPress. Then delete the default posts, pages, and comments in WordPress. Then upload the downloaded wp-content folder. Now, go to Tools -> Import and import the file you exported earlier.

And lastly, install and activate the plugins one by one.

A summary of the errors for WordPress theme not installing

I hope by now you have found the solution to your WordPress theme installation problem.

Let us take a brief look at the errors we covered:

  • Memory size error
  • File size error
  • Bad format error
  • Files missing error
  • Max_Execution error
  • White screen of death
  • Syntax or Parse error

Besides the errors, we also covered miscellaneous issues like –

  • WordPress theme not working on mobile.
  • Locked out of WordPress.
  • Cannot install a theme on a multi-site WordPress installation.
  • Add New button not showing.

And lastly, we learned how to install WordPress themes properly so that, we do not face problems later.

That’s it!

Now, all you have to do is to get a good theme for your site, install it and then customize it to your heart’s content!

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