Fixing “WordPress Theme Install Failed Could not Create Directory”

When people want to install a new WordPress theme, they start with the dashboard method. That’s the easiest way. However, errors can cause extra issues especially, for beginners. For example, you upload your file, but you get an error message like “WordPress theme install failed could not create directory”. Or even, some other messages talking about permissions in a specific file or folder.

Today, I’ll show you how to solve that problem, but first, make sure that you’re using a good quality web hosting service. It’s the only way to avoid these issues.

If you’re hosting with low-quality service, then, it’s time to switch to premium hosting. I always recommend WP Engine for serious people, it’s a managed hosting and the only company that offers exclusive and advanced optimizations and hardware technologies, created especially, for WordPress.

In other words, they host and make the site faster and take care of all the settings and server configuration, the user will never think about all that. His only job is to forget the hosting technics and let expert engineers do the job. Now, let’s fix the theme problem.

Wrong permissions settings

If you get messages about creating directories for your theme, then, you have file permissions problems, as the first probable cause of the situation. So, make sure you have access to your blog files, and it’s better to access them through the cPanel file manager. It’s the easiest way, and you will avoid using the standard FTP slow connections.

Generally, WordPress can create your themes folder, and add the new one with its associated files. But sometimes, the permissions can be wrong. In this case, you should log in to your cPanel, and click the “File Manager” icon, then, you will get your blog files.

Now, you need to find the directory called “wp-content”, set the permissions for that directory to 777. That’s temporary full permission to solve the problem. Follow the next screenshot example.

WordPress Theme Install Failed Could not Create Directory

Now, you get a pop-up window at the center of the page, where you can set up your folder permissions. Just check all the boxes to make it 777, and then, click the button “Save Permissions”.

Change file permissions

Next, repeat the same thing for the sub-folder “Themes” inside “wp-content”

Themes directory

Now, you should have both, “Themes” and “wp-content” permissions as 777, to let WordPress add your new theme there, and modify the existing directory that includes other themes. Come back to your WordPress dashboard and try again with your theme.

Please make sure that you have the exact theme file with ZIP format, you can read my other post on how to buy and install a theme in WordPress. You will find some useful video tutorials to help you install your theme correctly.

Please make sure you have the “themes” folder existing in your WordPress content directory. If for any reason, the folder is not there, you should create it manually, by opening the “wp-content”, then, click the “New Folder” button at the top left of the page. Finally, you just need to name that folder “Themes”.

Don’t forget to set the file permissions back to the original ones, or simply, make them 755, for better security.

Make sure you have enough disk space

This seems a rare situation, but in many cases, the theme error messages come from the limited disk space that you have in your server. That happens, especially if you’re using shared hosting.

Make sure that your backups are not saved in the same server, you will lose the space and you will risk your saved backups. Instead, use a cloud backup service such as Dropbox or any other one. Then, verify that you have the space to upload the new theme.

Upload your theme manually

If none of the above methods works, then, forget verifying codes. That will take more time; and hope you can find the solution. Instead, you can upload the theme manually and install it, which will guarantee installation in the majority of cases.

I recommend using the cPanel method. It’s fast and will help better than the normal FTP way with Filezilla or other software. You can watch the short video below, it will show you how to install a WordPress theme, by uploading it to the themes folder first, and extracting it there. Then, you need to come back to the WordPress admin area, to activate the theme from there.

I hope this helped to solve the problem. Please add your comment if you have the problem again, or you can simply add your own solution if you have one that worked for you.

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About Fathi Arfaoui

Fathi Arfaoui is a Physicist, Blogger and the founder of He shares Business, WordPress and Blogging tips to build a better blog and succeed online.

Disclosure: The recommendations on this page are my own based on my tests and analysis. We may earn a small commission from web hosts and other partners if you use my referral link to make a purchase. That’s what helps us to maintain the site and add fresh content, Thanks for your support.

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