If you are new to WordPress, make sure to read our introduction to WordPress themes. It explains what themes are and how they can be cost-effective and time-saving for website owners.
In this step-by-step tutorial, you will learn how to easily upgrade a theme with just a few clicks inside the admin area.
Upgrading Your WordPress Theme – Best Practices Checklist
We recommend going through the handy checklist below before going through the upgrade process, to ensure that no theme settings or customizations are lost and that your upgrades go smoothly.
1. Back Up Your Site Fully
Backing up your files and data before making any updates to your site is vital. This way, if things don’t go as planned, you can always restore everything to its previous settings.
If you don’t want to perform manual backups, there are many WordPress plugins you can use. Learn about a WordPress backup plugin that can automate your backup process here:
2. Check The Theme Update Notes
When WordPress upgrades its software to a new version, this can affect the functionality of certain themes. Depending on the theme you have installed, there may be a changelog file included with an update listing new features, improvements, security fixes or important changes in the new version.
If the theme changes seem irrelevant or unimportant, you can skip the update. Otherwise, you should upgrade.
3. Test Your Theme
If you can, it’s a good idea to check the theme before installing it on your site.
Typically, web service providers will set up a test site where they can test the latest version of a theme, track any bugs and check to see if all plugins are working fine with the new theme before applying it to a live site.
If you’re managing your own website, you can set up a test WordPress site on a subdomain or a separate domain using the same plugins and configuration settings and test new theme versions on your test site before applying it to your live site.
4. Search Online
Before updating your theme, it’s a good idea to do a quick search online and see if other theme users have reported any serious problems with the new theme version.
You can type the theme name and version into Google, and search the theme developer’s support forum (many developers provide forums for premium themes, and even for some free plugins).
5. Use Child Themes For Heavily Customized Themes
If you have made extensive changes to your existing WordPress theme files, updating your theme may result in your custom modifications being overwritten. To prevent losing your theme modifications, therefore, we recommend you learn how to create “child themes”.
A WordPress child theme is a theme that inherits the functionality of another theme, called the parent theme, and allows you to modify, or add to, the functionality of the parent theme. When you update the “parent theme”, your modifications are preserved through the “child theme.”
If you plan to customize your theme files, then we recommend becoming familiar with using child themes, especially if you plan to use a theme that gets regularly updated. You can learn more about child themes by searching online, or visit the official WordPress child theme page here:
As you will see below, the actual process of updating a WordPress theme is not complicated at all … a few simple clicks and you’re done! What can feel slightly bothersome is the preparation involved prior to upgrading.
Many people don’t upgrade their themes regularly, while many upgrade without going through some or all of the steps listed in the section above. As mentioned earlier, the above are “best practice” methods to help you avoid problems. Ultimately, it is solely your responsibility as a website owner to protect your digital properties.
How To Upgrade WP Themes From Your Admin Dashboard – Tutorial
Updating your themes in your admin dashboard is easy.
Log into your WordPress administration area …
Depending on the theme(s) you have installed on your website, you may receive occasional alerts in your dashboard that new theme versions are available and require updating …
Updating themes in the WP dashboard is easy. You can update your WordPress theme from the “Themes” page, or the “Updates” area.
Updating WordPress Themes Using The “Themes” Area
To see which themes need updating, go to your Themes page.
Choose Appearance > Themes from your WP admin menu …
This opens up the “Themes” screen …
WordPress Themes with new versions display an “Update Available” message over their thumbnail image …
Locate the theme you want to update and click on the “Update Available” alert.
When the theme details window opens up, click on update now …
WordPress will automatically update your theme in seconds …
Your theme is now updated …
Repeat the above to update all of your out-of-date themes, or use the method below to upgrade multiple themes at once.
Updating Your Theme Via The “Updates” Page
Update your WordPress themes from the “Updates” area as follows:
To view all themes on your site that need updating, click on Dashboard > Updates …
This brings up the Updates screen. Scroll down to the Themes section …
Select all the themes you want to update and click on Update Themes to complete the bulk upgrade process …
WordPress automatically updates all of your selected themes …
Congratulations! Now you know how to update your WP theme in your dashboard.
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