How to Delete a Theme in WordPress

When managing your WordPress website, you may come across the need to delete a theme. Whether you want to remove an unused theme or switch to a new one, deleting a theme can help keep your website lean and organized. In this article, we will guide you through the process of deleting a theme in WordPress, step by step.

Understanding WordPress Themes

Before diving into the process of deleting a theme, let’s briefly understand what WordPress themes are. Themes in WordPress control the overall appearance and functionality of your website. They determine how your content is displayed, including the layout, design, and styling.

Precautions Before Deleting a Theme

It’s important to exercise caution when deleting a theme, as it directly affects the appearance and functionality of your website. Here are a few precautions to consider:

  • Make sure you have a backup of your website: Before deleting a theme, it’s always a good practice to create a backup of your entire website. This ensures that you have a restore point in case anything goes wrong during the process.
  • Ensure you have an active theme: WordPress requires at least one active theme at all times. Before deleting a theme, make sure you have another theme activated on your website. Otherwise, you won’t be able to delete the current active theme.

How to Delete a Theme

Now let’s dive into the step-by-step process of deleting a theme in WordPress:

Accessing the Theme Management Page

To delete a theme, you need to access the Theme Management page in your WordPress dashboard. Here’s how:

  1. Log in to your WordPress admin area.
  2. Go to “Appearance” in the left-hand sidebar.
  3. Click on “Themes.”

Identifying the Active Theme

Before deleting a theme, it’s essential to identify the active theme. The active theme is indicated by a highlighted box. Here’s how you can identify it:

  1. Look for the theme with a colored box around it.
  2. This colored box indicates that the theme is currently active on your website.

Deactivating the Theme

To delete a theme, you first need to deactivate it. Follow these steps to deactivate the theme:

  1. Hover over the active theme.
  2. Click on the “Theme Details” button.
  3. In the bottom-right corner, click on the “Deactivate” button.

Deleting the Theme

Once the theme is deactivated, you can proceed with deleting it. Here’s how:

  1. Right-click on the deactivated theme.
  2. From the context menu, select “Delete.”
  3. Confirm the deletion when prompted.

Common Issues and Troubleshooting

During the theme deletion process, you may encounter a few common issues. Let’s address them and provide troubleshooting steps:

Theme Deletion Error: “The theme is active”

If you receive an error message stating that the theme is active and cannot be deleted, follow these steps:

  1. Activate a different theme: Switch to another theme that you want to keep.
  2. Deactivate the theme you want to delete: Follow the steps mentioned in Section 3.3 to deactivate the theme.
  3. Retry the deletion: Once the theme is deactivated, try deleting it again.

Theme Deletion Error: “The directory is not empty”

If you encounter an error stating that the directory is not empty, it means that some files related to the theme are still present. Here’s what you can do:

  1. Manually delete the theme files: Access your website’s file manager or use an FTP client to navigate to the “wp-content/themes” directory. Locate the folder of the theme you want to delete and delete it manually.
  2. Retry the deletion: After manually deleting the theme files, return to the Theme Management page in your WordPress dashboard and try deleting the theme again.

Benefits of Deleting Unused Themes

Deleting unused themes offers several benefits, including:

  • Improved website performance: Removing unnecessary themes reduces the storage space and resources required by your website, leading to improved performance and faster loading times.
  • Enhanced security: Unused themes can become vulnerable to security breaches if not regularly updated. By deleting them, you eliminate potential security risks.
  • Simplified website management: Deleting unused themes simplifies your WordPress dashboard, making it easier to navigate and manage your active themes.


In this article, we have explored the process of deleting a theme in WordPress. We discussed the precautions to take, the step-by-step deletion process, and how to troubleshoot common issues. Deleting unused themes not only improves website performance and security but also simplifies website management. Remember to exercise caution and have a backup of your website before deleting any theme.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are some frequently asked questions about deleting themes in WordPress:

Q: Can I reinstall a deleted theme?

  • A: Yes, you can reinstall a deleted theme from the WordPress repository or from a backup file.

Q: Will deleting a theme delete my website’s content?

  • A: No, deleting a theme will not delete your website’s content. Themes control the appearance of your website, while content is stored separately in the WordPress database.

Q: Can I switch back to a deleted theme?

  • A: Yes, you can switch to a deleted theme if you have it backed up or saved locally. Simply reinstall the theme and activate it.

Q: What happens if I delete the active theme without activating another theme?

  • A: If you delete the active theme without activating another theme, WordPress will automatically switch to the default theme. Your website will still be accessible, but it may lose its previous design and styling.

Q: How often should I delete unused themes?

  • A: It is recommended to regularly review and delete unused themes to keep your WordPress installation lean and secure. Aim for a clean and organized theme directory.

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