Uninstall and Delete a WordPress Theme

So, you have reached a point where you want to delete a WordPress theme. This can happen if you have recently switched your previous WP theme, or have a few other themes that come pre-installed on your website that you want to remove. However, at this point, you are probably wondering whether this action might be unsafe. In this article, we will address the process in which you can uninstall and delete a WordPress theme easily, without the process affecting your website.

The Delete button on a black keyboard
Before you hit that delete button, let’s see if you have the right reasons behind such action.

Before we delve into the action itself, we found it to be wise to speak of the reasons that might precede it. So, let’s see what those are.

Why should you uninstall and delete a WordPress theme?

In a case where you are not using a WordPress theme, you can take it as a rule of thumb that you ought to delete it from your website. Now, there are a number of reasons for doing so.

  • WordPress theme files are written in PHP. They can be used to hide malicious code or malware on your website (of course, if your website was ever compromised). In certain cases, rouge developers are able to hide backdoors in unused themes as well.
  • Keeping them installed on your server will increase your backup sizes. In addition, your WordPress security plugin will take longer to finish a scan.
  • Keeping a theme installed will allow for updates to keep arriving, even if you are not using it whatsoever.

It is also worth mentioning that plenty of users like to install WordPress themes on their websites for the purpose of testing them out. However, what they do not know is that this is not the best way to test drive a WordPress theme. Instead, what they should do is use a staging site or a local WordPress install, and do all the testing there. This way, it will not affect their live website, and will further allow for a consistent experience to the users.

Addressing the difference between uninstalling and deleting a WordPress theme

WordPress allows you to keep only one theme as an active one. However, that does not stop you from installing as many themes as you want on your website. These themes will not be active, but they are still present on your site, and you will keep getting updates for them. So, in order to completely uninstall a WordPress theme, you need to delete it. This will remove all the theme files from your website, and that is rather important.

How safe is it to delete old WordPress themes?

It is completely safe to uninstall and delete a WordPress theme that you are not using. You see, each WordPress site needs at least one theme installed in order to function properly. It is the theme that the WP will use to display your website. You can regard all the other themes as redundancies. You can view the WordPress theme you are currently using by visiting Appearance > Themes page. Your current theme will appear as an ‘Active’ one.

A black laptop with WordPress page on the screen
Uninstalling and deleting a WordPress theme is completely safe once you have a proper backup of important settings.

We would highly recommend that you keep one default WordPress theme installed on your website. It will act as the fallback theme in case your current theme is, for whatever reason, not working. If your current theme is a child theme, you should also keep the parent theme installed on your website. Apart from these themes, you can feel safe when deleting any other ones you have on your website.

Preparations that precede deleting a WordPress Theme

If you have customized a WordPress theme and wish to preserve those customizations before deleting it, you should create a complete WordPress backup. What you can also do is download the theme folder to your computer to serve as a backup. In order to do that, you can use an FTP client or the File Manager app in your WordPress hosting account dashboard. Once connected, go to /wp-content/themes/ folder, and download the inactive theme folder. After you have safely backed-up your old theme, you can proceed with deleting it.

Ways to delete a WordPress theme

There are a number of ways you can uninstall and delete a WordPress theme. Here, we will explain three, starting with the easiest one.

1. Delete a WordPress theme via admin dashboard

For the easiest and most recommended way to delete a WP theme, you will have to start with clicking on Appearance on your WP page. Then go to Themes page, and click on the theme that you want to delete. WordPress will lead you to theme details through a popup window. Once there, you will need to click on the Delete button at the bottom right corner of the popup screen. Upon doing so, you will be asked to confirm that you indeed want to delete the theme. Simply click the OK button to continue. Congratulations! You are now free of the selected theme.

2. Delete a WordPress theme via FTP

While this method is admittedly a bit advanced, it does come in handy if you are unable to access the WordPress admin area. What you have to do is connect to your WP site using an FTP client and then go to /wp-content/themes/folder. From there, you will need to locate the theme folder you wish to delete. Right-click on the folder name and click delete. Your FTP client will be so kind as to delete the theme you have chosen.

A woman sitting at her laptop, looking at WP page
However advanced this method may be, it is not that hard to follow it with simple instructions.

3. Delete a WordPress theme using File Manager

For those of you that feel a bit uncomfortable using an FTP client, we have the third option – using the File Manager app in your web hosting control panel. Now, depending on your hosting provider, your hosting dashboard will look different. Still, what you have to do is login to your hosting account dashboard, and click on the File Manager icon under the Advanced tab. This ought to launch the file manager. From there, you can browse the contents of your web server as you would when using an FTP client. Go to the /public_html/wp-content/themes/folder. You will then have to right-click and delete the theme that you want to get rid of. That would be all.

As you can see, there is not much to worry about when you want to uninstall and delete a WordPress theme. Simply choose one of these methods, and follow it step by step, and you will reach the desired outcome in no time.