How to Export a WordPress Theme in 2024

Creating a unique and visually appealing WordPress website often involves designing a custom Theme tailored to your preferences. 

Once you’ve put in the effort to perfect your WordPress Theme, the next logical step is to export the Theme for use on other websites or share it with your team. 

In this guide, I’ll walk you through the process of easily exporting WordPress Themes.

If you want a smooth and painless process, you can export your Theme with the help of the All-in-One WP Migration plugin.

But if you prefer a direct and transparent approach you can manually export your Theme via an FTP client.

Considerations before exporting your WordPress theme

Before you export your Theme, consider the following factors to avoid potential issues and ensure a successful export:

Customizer Settings

Customizer settings, such as theme options, site identity, colors, and layout configurations, are stored in the WordPress database. 

Exporting your Theme files doesn’t automatically include these layout settings.

If your Theme heavily relies on customizer settings, document them or export/import the WordPress database along with the Theme files.

Child Themes

If you are using a child Theme, note that its child Theme’s functionality often depends on its parent Theme.

Therefore, ensure that both the parent and child Theme folders are exported if you want to maintain the complete Theme structure with WordPress customizer settings.

Media Files

Your Theme may include specific media files such as images, videos, or custom fonts.

While exporting the Theme files, consider separately transferring or documenting any media files associated with the Theme. 

Alternatively, include the media library in the exported zip file.

Theme Dependencies

Some themes may rely on specific plugins or additional dependencies to function correctly.

Be sure to document and communicate any dependencies to ensure the Theme functions properly on the destination site. 

Users on the receiving end should install the necessary plugins or dependencies.

Widget and Menu Configurations

Custom widgets and navigation menus might be specific to your Theme.

Note any widget or menu settings that are crucial to your Theme’s appearance and functionality. 

Users importing the Theme may need to recreate these settings manually.

Theme Licensing and Permissions

Check the licensing and permissions associated with your Theme, especially if you plan to share it with others.

Communicate the terms of use, licensing, and any restrictions associated with your Theme. 

If applicable, ensure that you have the right to distribute the Theme.

Backup Your Website

Before making any significant changes, including Theme exports, it’s crucial to have a recent backup of your entire WordPress site.

Use a reliable backup plugin to create a backup of your website. 

This ensures that you can restore your site to a previous state in case anything goes wrong during the export/import process.

Taking these into consideration will help you maintain the integrity of your Theme and ensure a seamless experience for both yourself and those who will be using or collaborating on the Theme.

1. How to export a WordPress theme using a plugin

Follow the steps below to simply and painlessly export your WordPress Theme:

Step 1: Install a Theme Export Plugin

To simplify the Theme export process, begin by installing a reliable WordPress Theme export and import plugin. 

Several plugins are available for this purpose, but one popular choice is the All-in-One WP Migration plugin. 

On your WordPress dashboard go to Plugins > Add New then search for All-in-One WP Migration, install and activate it. 

Install and activate the All-in-One WP Migration plugin

Step 2: Access the Export Feature

Once the plugin is activated, go to your WordPress dashboard and locate the export feature within the plugin. 

You’ll find it under the “All-in-One WP Migration” menu. Click on the Export button option to initiate the process.

Select Export on All-in-One WP Migration plugin
Export Site page with All in One WP backup plugin

Step 3: Customize Export Settings

Depending on your preferences, you may want to customize the export settings under Advanced Options

The plugin often provides options to exclude certain elements, such as media files or specific plugins, from the exported file. 

Edit Advanced Options

Adjust these settings according to your needs before proceeding.

Step 4: Export to file

After making your customizations, go to the Export To option and select FILE

The Export To menu
Export to FILE

This option will ensure that your WordPress Theme, along with its settings and content, is saved in a single file for easy portability.

Once you choose the Export to FILE option, the plugin will compile all the necessary Theme files and data into a downloadable file. 

This may take a few moments, depending on the size of your website and the complexity of your Theme.

Your export will start immediately.

WP Theme export begins

Step 5: Download the Exported File

Once the export process is complete, you’ll be prompted to download the exported file with the “download export file button”. 

Tap the button then save this file to a location on your computer where you can easily locate it.

Download WP theme export file

Step 6: Verify the Exported File

Before moving forward, it’s essential to verify the exported file to ensure its integrity. 

Some plugins may provide a checksum or verification option. 

Alternatively, you can manually inspect the file to confirm that it contains all the necessary Theme files and data.

Step 7: Save a Backup

To avoid any potential data loss or issues during the Theme import process, it’s advisable to create a backup of your WordPress site before proceeding. 

Many backup plugins are available for this purpose, allowing you to revert to a previous state if needed.

Step 8: Share or Store the Exported Theme

With the exported Theme file in hand, you can now share it with others or store it for future use. 

If you’re collaborating with other developers or designers, this step makes it easy to transfer your custom Theme to another WordPress installation.

2. How to export a WordPress theme manually

If you prefer a more hands-on approach you can manually export a WordPress Theme.

Exporting a WordPress Theme manually involves compressing the Theme files into a single zip file. 

Here’s a summary of the steps to do so:

Step 1: Access Your WordPress Files

Connect to your website’s server using FTP (File Transfer Protocol) or a file manager provided by your hosting provider. 

You can use FileZilla or or Cyberduck.

Navigate to the wp-content/themes/ directory.

Step 2: Locate Your Theme Folder

Identify the folder corresponding to the custom Theme you want to export. 

Right-click on the Theme folder, and select the option to compress or zip the folder. 

This action packages all the Theme files into a single compressed file.

Step 3: Download the Compressed Theme File

After compressing the theme folder, download the resulting zip file to your local machine. 

This file will serve as the exported version of your WordPress Theme.

Step 4: Verify the Zip File

Before proceeding, verify that the zip file contains all the necessary Theme files. 

Look for files like style.css, index.php, and any other files specific to your Theme.

This step ensures that the exported file is complete and ready for use.

Step 5: Share or Store the Compressed Theme

Now that you have the compressed theme file, you can share it with others or store it for future use. 

This manual export method provides a straightforward way to transfer your custom Theme to another WordPress installation without the need for additional plugins.

Also read: How to change copyright in WordPress

FAQ

Can I export a specific theme from multiple themes installed on my WordPress site?

Yes, when using a plugin like “All-in-One WP Migration,” you can select the specific Theme you want to export. 

With the manual Theme export, focus on compressing the folder of the desired Theme.

Can I export a theme without affecting my live website?

Yes, exporting a theme doesn’t impact your live site.

It’s a way to duplicate or share your theme without making changes to the original site.

Are there compatibility issues when exporting themes between different WordPress versions?

In general, WP Themes are designed to be backwards compatible; meaning they can work with any version.

However, it’s advisable to ensure that the WordPress versions on both sites are relatively close to avoid potential issues.

What’s the recommended method for sharing a theme with collaborators or clients?

Export the Theme as a Zip file, then provide the exported Theme file along with clear documentation.

Consider using version control systems for ongoing collaboration and updates.

How do I import a WordPress theme?

To upload a WordPress theme; log in to WordPress Dashboard and go to Appearance > Themes.

Add New Theme and then select Upload Theme, choose the Theme file (.zip) from your computer.

After selecting your file, click Install Now to upload and install the theme.

After installation, click Activate to make the Theme active on your site.

Alternatively, you can use the All-in-One WP Migration plugin. Just go to the plugin on the dashboard and select the Import option.

Select the theme file (.wpress) and it will automatically import, and activate it when done.

Lastly, you can use FTP to import your Theme. Go to wp-content/themes/ on the server, and upload the Theme folder to the themes directory.

In the WordPress dashboard, activate your newly uploaded Theme.

How can I troubleshoot issues during the export/import process?

You can check error logs, review documentation, and seek community support if you run into any issues while exporting or importing your WordPress Theme.

Additionally, consider exporting in smaller chunks or troubleshooting with a staging environment before applying changes to the live site.

Conclusion

Exporting a WordPress Theme doesn’t have to be a complicated task. 

You can choose to use a reliable and convenient plugin-supported option or opt for the hands-on approach of manual methods using an FTP software like Filezilla.

Either way, the goal remains the same; to seamlessly transfer your custom Theme between WordPress installations or share it with collaborators.

This will empower you to take full control of your website’s design and functionality.

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Grace
Grace
Grace is an Editor at GoTechUG and she has written many articles about website design and social media. She has experience in IT and loves to tinker with anything to do with computers. In her spare time, she loves music, movies, reading books, and learning Spanish.

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