How to Uninstall And Delete WordPress Theme? (Detailed Guide)

Your WordPress site can quickly get cluttered with unused or outdated themes. Plus some of the best WordPress themes are worth trying out to change the look and feel of your website. When you’re searching for the right WordPress theme you typically install a few and try them out. If you don’t like the theme, it’s best to uninstall or delete it from your WordPress site.

Keeping unused WordPress themes can cause security issues since the code is still on your server. Additionally, it can get annoying to constantly see updates for themes you never plan on using. Here’s our quick guide on how to uninstall and delete WordPress theme.

Why Should You Delete WordPress Themes?

First things first, to avoid uninstallation again and again you must learn how to select the best WordPress theme. Now, I’m not talking about deleting your active theme, the one your WordPress site is currently using. All WordPress sites must have one (and only one) active theme. Let’s dive deep to understand and analyze why you should consider deleting the inactive or unused themes from your WordPress:

Security Issues

WordPress themes are a common security vulnerability — hackers frequently find loopholes in theme code to inject malware, backdoors, and other nasty things into WordPress sites. Fewer theme files on your website mean fewer points of entry for attacks, which is why it helps to delete unused ones.

This security problem gets severe if you don’t update your unused themes. Instead of choosing between updating a laundry list of unused themes or risking a security breach, just delete these themes.

Storage Issues

A WordPress theme is just a collection of files. an unused theme is a bunch of unused files taking up space on your hosting server. If you retain your library of old themes, there’s a chance of exceeding your allotted storage space, possibly resulting in additional charges or performance failures.

Excess files also mean more files to handle when creating backups, moving between hosts, and scanning your site for SEO and security reasons. And this isn’t even mentioning the visual mess in your dashboard — why not keep things tidy?

It might seem like deactivating a theme solves these problems. However, these theme files still exist on your server. Deleting the themes from your WordPress installation gets them off your server for good.

How to Uninstall And Delete WordPress Theme?

Before learning to delete a theme, you should know how to install a WordPress theme. Only then you’ll have a seamless process of uninstalling and deleting the theme.

Like with many things in WordPress, there are a few ways to get rid of a theme you no longer need to install, the simplest being from your administrator dashboard. However, it’s also possible to delete your theme files through your hosting panel or via FTP.

I’ll explain all of these methods below — but first, we highly recommend you create a backup of your WordPress site. Even though the process to delete a theme is easy, there’s always a chance of something going wrong. If so, you’re really going to want a backup on hand to revert to your old site.

With a backup stored safely, you’re ready to delete some themes. Let’s start with the easiest way, from the dashboard.

Delete The Theme Using WordPress Dashboard

As long as you have access to the administrator dashboard, you can quickly delete any WordPress theme inside WordPress.

  1.  Log into your WordPress dashboard as an administrator.
  2. In the dashboard panel, select Appearance > Themes. On this screen, you’ll see all themes that are installed on your website. You can add new themes clicking “Add New” button on your dashboard. You can also check out wordpress repository for free themes.
wordpress theme collection in dashboard
  1. Hover over the theme you want to delete and click Theme Details. Note that you cannot delete your active theme. If you want to delete your active theme, you’ll need to first activate another theme.
  2.  In the window that appears, click the Delete button in the bottom right corner.
  3. You’ll see a warning asking if you really want to delete the theme. Click OK.

This will delete the theme from your WordPress installation and your server. If you accidentally deleted the wrong theme, no problem. Just re-install your theme from the WordPress themes directory or re-upload it from your backup.

After completing the steps above, you may encounter the error message: “Deletion failed, the theme requested does not exist”.

This error is most likely occurring because WordPress failed to remove all contents of the theme file. The solution is to remove the theme files through either the FTP method or the hosting panel method, both described below.

Delete The Theme Using FTP

If you lack WordPress admin privileges, you can also delete a theme by accessing your server files with the File Transfer Protocol (FTP. FTP is a method for modifying files on a remote computer, in this case the server that hosts your WordPress site.

  1. Connect to your web hosting server with your FTP client of choice.
  2. Locate and open the wp-content folder, then open the themes folder.
  3. Inside the themes folder, find the folder of the theme you want to delete. Make sure this theme is not the currently active theme on your website.
  4. Right-click the folder of the theme you want to delete, then click Delete.
  5. Your FTP client may warn you about deleting the file. If so, confirm.

This will delete the chosen theme from your WordPress installation.

Delete The Theme Using Your Hosting Panel

If you have access to your hosting panel, you can delete your theme files this way as well.

  1.  Log into your hosting account.
  2. From your hosting panel dashboard, find the file manager option.
  3. Locate and open the wp-content folder, then open the themes folder.
  4. Inside the themes folder, find the folder of the theme you want to delete. Make sure this theme is not the currently active theme on your website.
  5. Right-click the folder of the theme you want to delete, then choose the delete option.

This will delete the chosen theme from your WordPress installation.

What to Do After Uninstalling WordPress Theme?

The process of deleting a theme is straightforward, but you might not be finished just yet. Check your WordPress files for remnants of the theme you deleted — there still may be leftover files consuming server space.

The two most important aspects to address here are media files and widgets. 

  • Starting with images, check your Media Library (under Media in the left side panel) for images and other media files associated with your old theme, and delete them.
  • Next, delete any leftover unused widgets from the old theme. Under Appearance > Widgets, move old widgets to the Inactive Widgets section, then click Clear Inactive Widgets to delete them.

With your unused WordPress theme deleted, your website will be more secure, lighter, and faster on the back-end. Plus, it’s nice to have a bit of extra breathing room, right?

Note: Be sure to keep the backup you created before uninstalling your theme, just in case you discover some unforeseen issue and you need to undo your changes.

Conclusion

Learning how to uninstall and delete WordPress theme the right way is essential for clearing space on the server and keeping your site secure. If you have access to your WordPress Admin Dashboard, follow the first method as it’s easier than the second.

You can see your active and inactive themes before selecting which one to delete. The second method is a ‘nice option’ to have in reserve in case there are issues with the WordPress dashboard.

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