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Solving The WordPress ‘you need to make this file writable’ Error Message

It depends on your web hosting service, but sometimes when I try to edit the theme on a new WordPress self-hosted blog, I get this error message..

‘You need to make this file writable before you can save your changes’

Here’s a short video on how to solve this problem, by setting the theme file permissions so editing is allowed.

IMPORTANT: Once you have finished editing your theme files, make sure you reset your file permissions to say 644. Just do it the same way, as shown in the video. It will help protect your website, going forward.

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29 responses to “Solving The WordPress ‘you need to make this file writable’ Error Message”

  1. Ibro says:

    Fantastic help. Thanks Kevin!

  2. Karen says:

    The vIdeo doesn’t work, on this page or on Viddler. Please do put it on YouTube – your page was the fourth one listed in Google for the “need to make this file writable” error message!

  3. Andrew K says:

    Kevin, Please move the video to Youtube. It no longer works.

  4. Sharon says:

    Good video but if we set file permission as 777 it will make any security problem???

    • Kevin says:

      Thank you. Do please read the IMPORTANT instruction in the post…

      “IMPORTANT: Once you have finished editing your theme files, make sure you reset your file permissions to say 644.”

  5. TimmTBaggs says:

    Awesome video! The wordpress codex on this was daunting when a 2 min video (of an older version of wp/ftp) still works great. Thanks brah brah!

  6. Thanks You very much Kevin. Even this video used old wordpress. But it still works. Thanks.

  7. samad says:

    thank u so much 4 the wonderful information share
    you are superb

  8. Alicia Vaz says:

    This was really helpful, thanks so much!

  9. Nick says:

    Thanks for the tip Kevin – that just saved me a lot of time and bother.


  10. Michael says:

    Yey for Kevin S Brown – you saved the day! :)

  11. Choco says:

    Really helpful thanks a lot!

  12. Watershedd says:

    I have no idea what is wrong, but nothing is resolving my issue here. All I really want to do is install a CAPTCHA plugin (I am getting so much spam and Akismet is only doing half a job) from the WordPress approved files and every single thing I try fails. I’ve tried changing my theme, making the files writable within the theme (using 777 as you suggest here, on individual files and folders) changing my theme again. Each time it fails I delete the old install files from the pulgin directory and the upgrade directory in the file manager (as suggested by the developer).

    I help with another blog and had no issues there, but my own programming skills are limited. I’m learning on the hop. Any suggestions?

  13. Clear as water… Pure gold! Thanks a lot for this video, it saved us quite some time. It worked imediately, we followed it and we have the Update File button now :)
    All the best, and thanks again!

  14. gillian morrison says:

    thank you thank you thank you….

    despite a PhD in chemistry, wordpress makes me feel like a wobbling terrified plate of disregarded jelly at a birthday party long after the children have gone…

    why oh why is it so difficult at every turn! it will not beat me!

    thanks for your blog

    • admin says:

      Thank you Gillian for the feedback. Wonderful description!

      WordPress is SO much easier, with a friendly web hosting service.

      I have used this hosting service (affiliate link coming up…) for three years now and they are wonderful (and cheap) Highly recommended. No question.


  15. Excellent post. I’ve been frustrated with this for a while. My old host didn’t have this problem.

    It’s probably important to reset your permissions back to 0755 or 0644 once you are finished editing to help keep your site secure.

  16. SO helpful! Thank you so much!!! The instructions about Codex in WordPress were so unclear. You solved my problem in a matter of minutes. Thanks again!

  17. George says:

    Just saved me a HUGE headache…worked like a charm:) Thanks MUCHO!!!

  18. Neal says:

    You saved me hours and hours… thank you!!!

  19. fellibonni says:

    Thank you so much for sharing.

    I have been frustrated this issue.
    Now it’s been solved beautifully thanks to your kindness.

  20. ken edwards says:

    thanks kevin — i’m wordpress newbie and i was starting to get frustrated by a permissions problem. you got me out of the jam!

    — ken

  21. Totontli says:

    Great Job, Kevin. Thanks a lot.

  22. admin says:

    Hi Lee,

    It’s always good to help a favourite student :)

    All the best


  23. Lee McIntyre says:

    Hi Kevin

    Great video from one of my favourite marketers :)

    Being a non techy I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve hit this error and been totally perplexed about what to do next.

    Thanks for the great video!

    Lee McIntyre

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