How to: Upload themes and plugins for WordPress using FireFTP and our server

When we install WordPress for clients, we often include a nice selection of themes and some essential plugins. However, many people want to change the look of their site- by uploading new themes- or add new functionality to WordPress using Plugins. Here is how you update your WordPress install using FireFTP a free plug-in FTP for Firefox.

FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol, and the FireFTP extension for Firefox is a free, open source solution- other programs that do the same thing on a Mac are Fetch and Transmit. On a PC, you can get SmartFTP or FTP Explorer. FireFTP will do everything you need- and it’s free.
First you have to have Firefox installed- go to to download a copy (if you haven’t already). Install Firefox- and don’t worry, it can reside peacefully next to Internet Explorer or Safari- you can have multiple browsers on your machine. It’s our opinion that you should make it your primary browser- and import all settings from your current default browser- but that is up to you.

Once in Firefox- go to TOOLS>ADD ONS

This will take you to the page where all the extensions are listed. Find the Search box- and type in FIREFTP- it should take you to this page:

Click on FIREFTP, and then the “Install now” button. Restart Firefox and you should now have a little seahorse in your tool bar- and “FireFTP” as an option in your TOOLS menu.

Screenshot of Firefox tool bar icons

The icons: back, forward (dimmed), refresh, stop, FireFTP (the blue seahorse), Sage, autofill, new tab.

Now that you have FireFTP installed- you have to set it up for accessing your WordPress installation.

These are instructions for our server– using a standard Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP (LAMP) running Cpanel.

First- click on the “Manage Accounts” text on the left side- create new account.

Main Tab: 

Account Name: What ever you want to call your site.

Host: url.tld (example:

Login: your site login, will be different than your WordPress login

Password: your site login, may be different than your WordPress login

Connection type tab: 

Check “Passive mode”

Initial directories:

Local: a folder on your computer where you will keep your WordPress files.

Remote: www

Advanced tab:

No need to enter anything in these- although you can decide on how you want your file names to be structured- either Leave Case Alone, convert to lower case, or  CONVERT TO UPPER CASE (note- all files must not have spaces in them.)

Clicking on connect should open the connection- with your local folder on the left- and your www folder on the server on the right.Screenshot from FireFTP

There will be a long list of files on the server- with a lot of them starting with WP – this is your WordPress install- the only, ONLY, folder you will move things in and out of is your wp-content folder.

Inside it you will find three folders,  Uploads, themes and plugins.

These are where you place your content- respectively.

Uploads is where the WordPress upload tool will place your files- using a year, month, date file hierarchy. Sometimes you may go in here to update a file, or check a link structure. Most of you will never have to access this folder.

The Themes folder is where you will copy the entire folder of a theme that you have downloaded to your computer from someplace like the WordPress Theme Viewer. To upload the file from your computer to the server- have the closed folder that contains your theme on the left, and the themes folder open on the right- select the theme on the left- and click the right arrow button in the center-FireFTP will begin the upload process.

Screenshot of FireFTP for uploading theme to WordPress To upload- select the file on left- Pool, click right arrow and it will move from your computer to the server.

Once the files are done the FTP process- you log into your WordPress admin panel- the Desktop, click on the presentation tab- and activate your new theme.

To upload Plugins- you do the same thing- only upload them into your Plugin folder.

If you have any questions- or run into problems with these instructions- please comment below- and I will update or clarify the instructions.


Commenting area

  1. hi, great instructions.
    i wasn’t sure about this part:

    Host: url.tld (example:
    > is this your individual site’s url? or the “primary domain” url you use for your hosting (that all websites are subdomains of)

    Login: your site login, will be different than your WordPress login
    > because if it’s your site’s name, you have no login there (besides wordpress)


  2. Host url should be your primary site- this is the “folder” that your site will reside in, it has nothing to do with your hosting company’s domain or any subdomains. If you site is – your sites files will be in that folder- even if the site is located on, the folder for Groucho is where you need to access.

    Because you are logging into the server- not WordPress- you may have different user names and passwords for the folder on the server. We tend to set up our server with a special username that would never be used as an e-mail address and use the same password for both the ftp file access that the primary- or “admin” user would use to access WordPress

  3. what is word press? is it the same as dreamweaver? how to I create and upload content?

  4. Hi Helen-
    WordPress is an open source content management software that runs on your web server. It allows you to edit and update information on your web site without knowing HTML- or needing an HTML editor like Dreamweaver. It runs your site via a database- instead of static content- and then puts the data through a file made with CSS to define how it looks. You can create and upload content using the tools in WordPress. For more information go to

  5. Hey it is a good post and I learn t a lot from the post. I tried using FTP programs but failed due to non availability of login name and password. From where will I get for my this word press site. Kindly guide. Also guide how can I get posts full and with pictures on the site instead of some lines. I will be very grateful if you may email me.
    Thanks in advance.

  6. Hi Rajesh-
    You get the login and password from your hosting provider.
    To post pictures on your wordpress site- use the file uploader. In version 2.6.x it’s a bit more complicated that it used to be-
    You might want to try installing the nextgen gallery plugin which makes things easier:

  7. sorry if this may sound idiot.. but how do i contact my hosting provider? hosting as in the site hosting?


  8. @sookyeong: Hosting as in site hosting yes-
    the good news is with WordPress 2.7 most plugins can now be installed from within the admin. You still need to know your user name and password for ftp though to make it work.
    Themes don’t autoinstall – yet.

  9. Hi, I am attempting to use fireftp to upload a new theme on WordPress for a blog and am stuck with the part about ‘create an account’

    I am not sure what my ftp server address is for the WordPress blog. Can you help me with this?

  10. Hi Susan- Are you on If so- you can’t upload a new theme.
    If you’ve got a hosted account- your hosting provider can provide you with the access info. On our server- you upload to your domain url- for this site it would be

  11. I’m using a default WP account meaning my blog ends with I can’t seem to get FireFTP to log on. My question is; do I need to be paying for my site so that it drops the Any tutorial seems like it’s not using www.(blogname)

    I really dont want to have to pay for a domain name but i want my site to look better then it does. any suggestions?

  12. Hi Alex- sorry for the bad news- doesn’t allow you to FTP in- you’d have to pay for hosting. Moving the site is easy- to a paid host, the problem will be that all of your url’s already have the in them- instead of being your name etc.
    This is why I always advise people to spend the $15 to get their own domain name if they want to use to get started.
    If you could FTP into you could do all kinds of things- like add plugins or themes without paying for them- that’s a big no-no on that site.
    We provide supported hosting for $12 a month- however, there are many hosts that charge less. You shouldn’t pay more than $15 for domain registration either.
    Best of luck.

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