How To Update WordPress Themes

Learn how to easily update WordPress themes inside your dashboard …

Updating Your ThemesIf you are new to WordPress, make sure to read our overview of WordPress themes. We’ve written a detailed article that explains what themes are and how using a theme can be cost-effective and time-saving for small business owners.

This step-by-step tutorial will show you how to update a theme with just a few clicks inside the dashboard.

Upgrading WordPress Themes – Best Practices

Upgrading WP Themes - Best Practices

Before updating your WordPress themes, we recommend going through the checklist below.

1. Back Up Your Website

Backing up your files and data before making any updates to your site is essential. This way, if things don’t go as planned, you can always restore everything to its previous configuration.

If you don’t want to perform manual backups, there are many free and paid plugins you can use. Learn about a WordPress backup plugin that can fully automate your site backups 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 listing any new features, improvements, security fixes or any other information pertaining to the new theme version.

If the theme changes seem irrelevant or unimportant, you can skip the update. Otherwise, you should update.

3. Test Your Theme

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

Practical Tip

Typically, web service providers will set up a test site where they can test the latest version of the theme, track any bugs and check 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 install 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 main site.

4. Search Online

Before updating your theme, it’s a good idea to do a quick search online to see if other theme users have reported any serious problems 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 offer this for premium themes, and even for some free plugins).

5. Use Child Themes For Heavily Customized Themes

If you have made extensive customizations 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”, all customizations are preserved through the “child theme.”

If you plan to customize your theme files, then we recommend becoming familiar with child themes, especially if you plan on using 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! The part of the updating process that takes the most time and effort to complete is the preparation involved prior to upgrading.

Many people don’t upgrade their WordPress 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 recommended “best practice” methods for ensuring problem-free upgrades. Ultimately, as a website owner, it is solely your responsibility to protect your online properties.

How To Upgrade Themes In WordPress – Step-By-Step Tutorial

Updating your WP themes in your dashboard is easy.

Log into your WordPress administration area …

WordPress Theme Management: Upgrading Your Themes

Depending on which theme(s) you have installed on your site, you may receive occasional notifications in your WP Dashboard that your theme(s) need updating …

Updating Themes In WordPress

Updating a WordPress theme from your dashboard is quite a simple process. You can update your WordPress themes via the “Themes” area, or the “Updates” area.

Updating WordPress Themes From The “Themes” Section

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

Choose Appearance > Themes in your WordPress dashboard menu …

Theme Management: Updating Your Themes

This brings you to the “Themes” screen …

Upgrading WP Themes From The WP Dashboard

WordPress Themes that need updating display an “Update Available” message over the theme’s thumbnail image …

Updating A Theme 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

WordPress Theme Management: Upgrading Your Themes

WordPress will automatically update your theme …

How To Update Themes In WordPress

Your WordPress theme is now up-to-date …

Upgrading Your Theme

Repeat the above to update all of your out-of-date themes, or use the method below to bulk upgrade multiple themes.

Updating WordPress Themes Using The “Updates” Area

Update your theme via the “Updates” page as follows:

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

WordPress Theme Management: How To Upgrade Your Theme

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

Updating Themes In WordPress

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

WordPress Theme Management: How To Upgrade A Theme In WordPress

WordPress automatically updates all of your selected themes …

Updating Themes In WordPress

Congratulations! Now you know how to upgrade your theme from your dashboard.


"I have used the tutorials to teach all of my clients and it has probably never been so easy for everyone to learn WordPress ... Now I don't need to buy all these very expensive video courses that often don't deliver what they promise." - Stefan Wendt, Internet Marketing Success Group