How To Update WordPress Themes

Learn how to easily update WordPress themes inside your dashboard …

WordPress Theme Management: Upgrading Your ThemesIf you are new to WordPress, make sure to read our overview of WordPress themes. This comprehensive article explains what WordPress themes are and how using a theme can save business owners time and money.

This step-by-step tutorial will show you how to easily update themes with just a few clicks inside the admin area.

Upgrading Your WordPress Theme – Best Practices

Updating Themes - Best Practices

Before updating your WordPress themes, we recommend going through the “best practices” checklist below.

1. Back Up Your Website Fully

Backing up your website before making any changes to your site is essential. If something goes wrong, you can always restore your website to its former configuration.

If you don’t want to perform manual backups, there are a number of plugins you can use. You can read about a WordPress backup plugin that can fully automate your backup process here:

2. Check The Changelog

Changes made to the WordPress software can affect the functionality of certain themes. Depending on the theme you are using, there may be some release notes accompanying an update which provides an overview of new features, improvements, bug fixes or any other changes in the new theme version.

If the theme changes seem irrelevant or unimportant, you can skip the update. Otherwise, it’s best to update.

3. Test Your Theme

If you can, it’s a good idea to check the theme before installing it on your site.

Tip

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 if all plugins are working fine with the new theme before installing it on 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 name using the same configuration settings (e.g. plugins) and play with the 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 issues with the new theme version.

You can enter the theme name and version into Google, and search the theme developer’s support forum (many developers provide forums for premium WordPress themes, and even for some free plugins).

5. Is Your WordPress Theme Heavily Customized? Use A Child Theme

If you have made extensive customizations to your existing WordPress theme files, upgrading 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 customizations get preserved through the “child theme.”

If you plan to customize your theme files, then we recommend becoming familiar with the use of 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 just visit the WordPress Codex child theme page here:

Practical Tip

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 all of the steps listed in the section above. As mentioned earlier, the above are recommended “best practice” methods to help you avoid problems. Ultimately, as a website owner, it is solely your responsibility to protect your online assets.

Upgrading Your WP Theme – Step-By-Step Tutorial

Updating your themes in your dashboard is simple.

Log into your WordPress admin area …

Theme Management: Upgrading Your WP Theme

Depending on the theme(s) you have installed on your website, you may receive an occasional notification in your WordPress Dashboard that new theme versions are available and require updating …

Upgrading Your Theme

Updating a WordPress theme in your dashboard is quite simple and easy. You can update your WordPress theme via the “Themes” area, or the “Updates” feature.

Updating Your Site’s Theme Via The “Themes” Page

To see which themes require updating, go to your Themes area.

Select Appearance > Themes in your WP admin menu …

How To Update A Theme In WordPress

This opens up the “Themes” screen …

Updating Your Theme

WordPress Themes with new versions display an “Update Available” message over their thumbnail image …

WordPress Theme Management: Updating Themes In WordPress

Locate the theme you want to update and click on the “Update Available” notice.

When the theme details window opens up, click on update now

Theme Management: Upgrading Your WP Themes

WordPress automatically updates your theme …

Upgrading Your WordPress Themes

Your WordPress theme is now updated …

Upgrading WP Theme From The WP Dashboard

Repeat the process described above to update all of your remaining themes, or use the method below to upgrade multiple themes at once.

Updating WordPress Themes Via The “Updates” Page

Update your WordPress themes using the “Updates” screen as shown below:

To view all themes installed on your website that need updating, click on Dashboard > Updates

Theme Management: Upgrading Your WordPress Themes

This brings up the Updates screen. Scroll down to the Themes section …

Updating Your Themes

Check the box next to all the themes you want to update and click on Update Themes to complete the upgrade process …

Upgrading Your Theme

WordPress will automatically update all of the selected themes …

Theme Management: Updating Themes In WordPress

Congratulations! Now you know how to update your themes in your admin dashboard.

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