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How to Install a Ghost Theme


So you’ve just purchased or downloaded a new Ghost theme and now you need to install it? In this tutorial you’ll learn exactly how to go about it.

We’ll walk through two different scenarios:

  1. If you have a blog setup on Ghost(Pro)
  2. If you’re running Ghost offline or are self-hosting

Let’s begin!

Install a Theme on Ghost(Pro)

Installing a custom theme on Ghost(Pro) takes a matter of minutes. The only slightly tricky part you need to be aware of is that themes are not installed through the admin page of your actual blog, but rather, through the control panel for your overall Ghost(Pro) account. If that’s not 100% clear yet don’t worry, you’ll see exactly how it works in just a moment

The following steps will assume you already have a blog setup on Ghost(Pro). If your account is brand new and you haven’t set a blog up on it yet, please do so before proceeding. Read this getting started guide for more information. From there, all you’ll need is the zip file containing your new theme.

Log Into Your Control Panel

First, head to ghost.org and log into your main account control panel:

On this control panel you’ll see a list of the blogs you have setup on your account.

Go to Your Blog’s Settings Page

For each blog you have setup on Ghost(Pro) there is a dedicated blog settings page. This settings page is different to the admin area you access inside your blog itself. 

Your blog settings page will have a URL like ghost.org/blogs/yourblogname/ and is used for things like controlling domain settings and installing custom themes.

To get into your blog’s settings page, locate the blog you want to install your theme to in the list on your main control panel, then click the small gear icon to the right of its write a post button. Alternatively you can click on your blog’s name. This will take you to the blog’s settings page.

Click the Theme Upload Button

Once you’re in the settings page for your blog, click the large Upload Your Theme Zip File button in the right column.

Browse for Your Theme Zip File

At this point a box will open up allowing you to browse for your theme zip file. Locate it on your computer and select it.

Save Settings & Refresh Your Blog

After selecting your theme zip file, click the large blue Save All Blog Settings button near the bottom of your blog’s settings page. This will automatically initiate the process of uploading and activating the theme on your blog, during which you’ll see a loading icon on the blue button like so: 

When the theme installation is complete you’ll see a green bar appear across the top of your blog settings page that looks like this: 

Now go to your blog, refresh it and you’ll see your newly installed theme up and running.

Note: One Theme to Rule Them All

Currently with Ghost(Pro) you can only install one theme at a time, because when you install one theme it will replace whichever other one was previously active. For this reason it’s not possible to have multiple themes you can select from in your blog’s admin panel. 

To keep it easy to switch themes, it’s a good idea to have all your custom themes organized in an easily accessed place on your computer. That way you’ll know exactly where to browse for a new theme when you feel like a change.

Install a Theme on Self Hosted (or Offline) Ghost

If you’re running Ghost offline or self-hosting, you won’t have access to a control panel that handles theme installation like you do on Ghost(Pro). As such, the installation process is a little different.

Extract Your Theme Zip File

First, extract your theme’s zip file so you can see all the contents. It should look something like this:

Transfer the Theme Folder

Now you need to transfer the theme folder you just extracted into your Ghost blog’s content/themes folder. If you’re working offline on your computer, just copy and paste the folder. If you’re self hosting, upload the theme via FTP.

Stop and Restart Ghost

Currently, Ghost doesn’t automatically detect when a theme is added, so in order to be able to apply your new theme you’ll need to stop and restart Ghost. 

In the terminal running Ghost press CTRL+C to shut down, then run npm start to restart.

Select Your Newly Installed Theme

Log into your blog’s admin area and look for the General section listed under Settings in the left side menu. Once there, you’ll be able to scroll down to the Theme section, hit the dropdown list, and choose your new theme from the list.

Save and Refresh

Now you can click the blue SAVE button at the top right of your blog’s admin interface. Then head to the front end of your site, refresh it, and you should see your new theme activated.

Note: Multiple Themes

When running a self-hosted or offline Ghost blog it is possible to have multiple themes installed at once. Just follow the steps above for each theme, then select the theme of your preference in the admin panel.

Let’s Recap

Let’s quickly summarize everything we’ve learned about installing Ghost themes:

For a Ghost(Pro) blog

  • Go to your account control panel and then into your blog’s settings page at ghost.org/blogs/yourblogname/
  • Upload your theme zip file
  • Save your settings and refresh your site

For an offline or self-hosted Ghost blog

  • Extract your theme zip file
  • Transfer the uncompressed theme folder into your blog’s content/theme folder
  • Restart Ghost via command line
  • Go to Settings > General in your blog’s admin panel and select your new theme
  • Save your settings and refresh your site

Now you’re all set to go and enjoy your newly installed Ghost theme. Have fun!

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