Normally, WordPress users enjoy the ease and efficiency of seamlessly changing themes through the administration dashboard. Nevertheless, there might be instances when this dashboard becomes inaccessible, possibly due to a malfunctioning theme. In such circumstances, you have the alternative of manually changing the WordPress theme to restore access to the administration dashboard.
If you find yourself in a situation where the administration dashboard is no longer reachable due to theme-related issues, there’s no need to panic – we have a solution for you. You can follow these step-by-step instructions to manually change the WordPress theme and regain entry to your dashboard.
Changing the WordPress Theme manually
Change the WordPress Active Theme to the Default Theme
WordPress has a fail-safe mechanism. If it can’t find the active theme, it defaults to a standard theme like ‘Twenty Twenty-One’ or ‘Twenty Twenty.’ This ensures that you can access your administration dashboard.
To utilize that mechanism, you can rename the active theme folder to something like ‘broken-theme’ so WordPress won’t find the current active theme and automatically switch to the standard theme. Now, let’s delve into the process!
Step 1: Access Your WordPress File
Start by establishing a connection to your website’s server. You can do this via an SFTP connection or your hosting service’s file manager. This will grant you direct access to your website’s files.
Step 2: Navigate to the Theme Directory
Once you’re in, navigate to the wp-content directory and find the themes folder inside. This is where all your installed WordPress themes are stored.
Step 3: Rename the Problematic Theme Folder
Locate the folder linked to the troublesome theme that causing the dashboard issue. If your WordPress debug log is enabled, you may find an error message when attempting to access your dashboard. This error message should also contain the name of the currently active theme directory like in the following image.
Now, rename this folder, just adding some letters to the folder such as “hello-elementor.error” should do the trick.
Step 4: Access the Dashboard
With the problematic theme deactivated, you can now log in to your WordPress administration dashboard.
Now that you have access, it’s time to identify and resolve the issue with the problematic theme. This could involve checking for errors in the theme’s code, updating it to a compatible version, or seeking help from the theme’s developer or support community.
Change the WordPress Active Theme to Another Theme
Step 1: Access your WordPress Database
To manually change the WordPress theme to another theme, you need to access your WordPress phpMyAdmin which generally can be accessed from your hosting site’s dashboard. If you’re a Kinsta user, navigate to the Info block → Database access section then click on the Open phpMyAdmin link.
Step 2: Change the Template Value
Once you have gained access to phpMyAdmin, click into the wp_options table. The “wp_” prefix could be different depending on your settings. Continue by clicking on the Search tab, then search for “template” in the option_name.
You can find the name of your currently active theme under the option_value. To change your theme, simply edit this value and select from the themes in your WordPress themes directory. You have the flexibility to switch to either an installed theme or one that you’ve recently downloaded but haven’t yet installed, as long as it’s in the themes directory.
Step 3: Change the Stylesheet Value
Now, click on the Search tab again, and this time you will search for “stylesheet” from the option_name once more.
To complete the process, modify the “stylesheet” option_value to exactly match the “template” value you previously added.
By now, your website should have the theme you’ve inputted to the database as an active theme.
The Bottom Line
Navigating an unreachable WordPress dashboard caused by a malfunctioning theme can be highly frustrating. Fortunately, you have the option to manually change your WordPress theme to restore access to the administration dashboard. This article provides a step-by-step guide to help you successfully switch your WordPress theme, whether you opt for the default theme or a new one of your choice.