By: Ben Richardson Last updated: November 29th, 2021
News & tips
This article is a complete guide to deleting a theme in WordPress, and shows you step-by-step how to do so.
By the time you finish, you’ll understand:
To learn how a theme fits in with plugins, content and other parts of WordPress see our article: What Is WordPress?
The terms uninstalling and deleting can be used as synonyms in some platforms but when it comes to WordPress themes, they are not the same. How to uninstall a WordPress theme differs from how to remove themes from WordPress!
Uninstalling a theme in WordPress means that you are deactivating your current theme. You can deactivate a theme by pressing the button below on the theme’s thumbnail “Deactivate”. If you have only one theme installed in your WordPress, you can’t deactivate it.
On the other hand, deleting a theme means that you are removing all the files and additions of a theme you have installed. When a theme is deactivated, it is still in your storage space, and you can always reactivate it. Once a theme is deleted, there is no way to recover your files again.
There will be times you need to deactivate a theme or delete a theme. However, the processes and their outcomes differ greatly.
As a WordPress user, there will be a point you’d need to delete the current theme on your WordPress site and install a new one. Now that you have a basic idea of what a WordPress theme is, let’s delve into the reasons why you would like to remove a WordPress theme.
All these reasons may apply to your case at once, or one by one.
There are multiple ways to delete a WordPress theme. Three main methods will give you the same result; however, you may need to pick the method which fits your experience level. Below, you can see how to remove a theme from WordPress with clear steps.
The easiest way to how to remove a WordPress team is through using the WordPress dashboard. As a general user, basic knowledge of the Admin Dashboard is enough to perform this task. We will guide you step by step.
For the easy way, all you had to do is to have access to your Admin Dashboard. For the intermediate way, however, you’ll need access to the storage space of your website. This is an intermediate solution since you should understand how FTP works.
You can either use your hosting provider’s services, use a third-party FTP application, or use a plugin to access your website files. For security reasons, the safest way is to use your hosting provider’s services such as “File Manager”.
For this example, we’ll use the plugin “WP File Manager” since our demo website doesn’t contain any sensitive information.
The advanced way involves WP-CLI, a command line interface for WordPress. For this solution, you should install WP-CLI and it involves more command over the operating system. However, this solution may be easier and quicker for Linux users.
After installing WP-CLI, you can use these steps for deleting a WordPress theme.
Deleted ‘themename’ theme.
Success: Deleted 1 of 1 themes.
The methods for deleting a theme may seem easy; yet there are certain pitfalls even a seasoned WordPress user can fall into. We have compiled three possible mistakes you can encounter and listed them with their solutions.
This is a potentially bad mistake if your active theme is a child theme. The term parent theme means that a child theme was created using this theme and they are sharing the core files.
You may unknowingly delete a parent theme which also has a child theme. The potential result of this is the breaking of the child. If your active theme is a child, that would cause certain problems on the outlook of your site. The custom CSS and additions will not show anymore.
Luckily, before deleting a theme, you can check whether if it’s a child theme and which theme is the parent one. For this, check the theme details by hovering on the theme and clicking on the button.
Before deleting a theme, make sure that it’s not a parent.
This is not a mistake, rather a bad practice. When you delete a theme, all the necessary files will be removed from your storage.
It is always a good idea to take a backup before deleting a file.
This means that if you ever need those files for any reason you have to have a backup.
There are lots of plugins that will automate backup and restore them for you when required.
When your website is a part of the multisite environment, things can get messy when you try to delete a theme.
If you’re not the network administrator, you won’t be able to delete or add new themes.
Only a network administrator, can delete a theme.
If you delete a theme that is in use the website using that them is likely to not function.
You can use a Multisite Enhancements plugin to avoid deleting an active theme.
Some themes can leave residues on your website such as widgets, menu items, dummy content, and images. Deleting a theme doesn’t ensure that these items are also deleted.
When you delete your theme, make sure that you are getting rid of the inactive widgets as well. You can do this by clicking on Appearance, then Widgets.
Removing the dummy content may be harder since they populate your website to look full. This means that you may need to delete posts, pages, and unnecessary images. You have to do this manually through the Posts and Pages section of your dashboard.
Don’t forget to check your Media section for unwanted images.
Deleting a WordPress theme is relatively straightforward so long as you do it carefully.
Knowing how to delete themes in WordPress will benefit your storage and website performance.
Deleting a theme is also covered in our WordPress courses.