How To Manage WordPress Themes

Learn how to manage, update, and delete WordPress themes in this tutorial.

How To Manage WordPress ThemesThis tutorial was created using an earlier version of WordPress and may contain outdated information. Please bookmark this page as we will be updating this tutorial soon! To be notified of updates to our content, subscribe to our updates list (see sidebar), or Like our Facebook page.

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WordPress Theme Management

This section contains tutorials on managing, updating, and deleting WordPress themes.

If you need to install or reinstall a WordPress theme, then see the tutorials below:

If you need to configure your theme settings, or update, edit or delete theme menus, then see the tutorials below:

The information in this section is useful if you need to reinstall, update or reconfigure your WordPress themes.

How To Install WordPress Themes Using The Search Method

Log into your WordPress administration area …

WordPress Theme Management

Select Appearance > Themes from your WP admin menu …

WordPress Theme Management

This brings you to the “Themes” screen …

WordPress Theme Management

In the “Themes” section, click on the Install Themes tab …

WordPress Theme Management

Use the “Search” function or “Feature Filter” function to browse through themes …

WordPress Theme Management

WordPress brings up a list of themes matching your selection criteria in the search results screen. If you find a theme you like, click the Install link associated with theme …

WordPress Theme Management

When a preview window of the theme pops up, click on Install Now

WordPress Theme Management

Important

If a screen pops up asking you to enter your FTP details, add the information to the fields and click on Proceed

WordPress Theme Management

If your server environment allows you to perform automatic updates, your selected theme will be uploaded to your site and installed successfully …

WordPress Theme Management

Once your theme has been installed, you can preview it, activate it to make it the default theme of your site, or return to the “Themes” section.

How To Install WordPress Themes Using The Upload Feature

The built-in “Upload” feature performs the same basic function as the method shown above, except that it will upload and install a theme file from your hard drive, instead of installing it directly from the WordPress theme directory.

This feature is useful if you want to install a custom theme that is not available to general WordPress users (e.g. a theme purchased through a private site), or your site does not allow you to install a theme directly from the WordPress theme directory.

To upload and install a WordPress Theme automatically to your site using the “Upload” feature, first make sure that you have a zipped file containing the theme you want to upload to your site.

You can download themes for FREE from the WordPress Theme directory here:

WordPress Theme Management

For additional WordPress theme resources, go here:

Select Appearance > Themes from your WP admin menu …

WordPress Theme Management

In the “Themes” section, click on the Install Themes tab …

WordPress Theme Management

Click Upload

WordPress Theme Management

Click Browse

WordPress Theme Management

Locate the WordPress Theme file in your hard drive that you would like to upload to your site (must be a zipped file) and click Open

WordPress Theme Management

Click Install Now to proceed …

WordPress Theme Management

Your WordPress Theme will be uploaded and installed automatically …

WordPress Theme Management

Once your theme has been installed, you can preview it, activate it to make it the default theme of your site, or return to the “Themes” section.

How To Update WordPress Themes

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

WordPress Theme Management

You can see which themes need to be updated by going to your Themes area …

WordPress Theme Management

Updating WordPress themes is a simple process. You can update your WordPress themes manually, or via the WordPress dashboard.

Updating WordPress Themes Via Your WordPress Dashboard

Update your theme via the WP Dashboard as shown below:

Select Appearance > Themes from your WP admin menu …

WordPress Theme Management

In the Manage Themes screen, locate the theme that needs to be updated and click on update now

WordPress Theme Management

A notification window may appear warning you that by updating the theme, you will lose any customizations you have made to the theme. (Note: we recommend using Child Themes to prevent this from happening – see further below for more details.)

Click OK to continue or Cancel to stop …

WordPress Theme Management

WordPress will automatically update your theme …

WordPress Theme Management

If multiple themes on your site need updating, click on Dashboard > Updates

WordPress Theme Management

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

WordPress Theme Management

Select all the themes you want to update and click on Update Themes to complete the bulk update process …

WordPress Theme Management

Updating WordPress Themes Manually

Update your theme manually as follows :

Go to your Themes area, locate the theme that needs updating and click on the View version X.X details link …

WordPress Theme Management

This brings up a window with the Theme Page from WordPress.org. Click the Theme Download button, then choose Save File from the save dialog window and click OK

WordPress Theme Management

Download the latest version of your theme to the WordPress Folder on your hard drive or to any accessible location on your hard drive …

How To Install WordPress Themes

Extract the zip file containing the theme files and upload the new version files to the WordPress Themes directory on your server using FTP, overwriting your existing theme files …

How To Install WordPress Themes

Deleting WordPress Themes

To delete a WordPress theme, locate the theme you no longer want and click on the Delete link …

WordPress Theme Management

A confirmation window will appear. Click OK to proceed …

WordPress Theme Management

Your theme will be deleted …

WordPress Theme Management

Disclaimer

You cannot delete your active theme.

To delete a theme that you have specified as your current active theme:

  1. Set another theme as your active theme, then
  2. Delete the newly inactive theme.

WordPress Theme Management

Restoring WordPress Themes

To restore a WordPress theme do the following:

  • If you have deleted a previous theme, simply reinstall the theme and reactivate it.
  • If your previous theme is still installed on your site, just click the Activate button to restore it …

WordPress Theme Management

Tip

Tip: Click the Live Preview links in the Available Themes list to customize and preview a theme before activating it …

WordPress Theme Management

You will be able to change the theme’s header, background, title and menus before activating it …

WordPress Theme Management

Note: WordPress will restore your site’s settings and widgets automatically when reverting to previous default themes.

Managing WordPress Theme Options

The Theme Options screen allows you to manage features of your theme such as theme color and layout.

WordPress Theme Management

Useful InfoNote: The Theme Options screen is only available if the active theme supports this feature and if the theme author has built in configurable options for the theme.

Additionally, the Theme Options screen will be different for each theme. Some themes provide advanced configuration options, while others provide only basic options such as the ability to change the Color Scheme, Link Color, or Default Layout …

WordPress Theme Management

To learn more about configuring your Theme options, see the tutorial below:

WordPress Child Themes

If you have made changes to your existing theme files, upgrading your theme may result in your custom modifications being overwritten. To prevent losing your theme modifications, we recommend learning how to create child themes or hiring a web developer to create one for you.

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 that parent theme. When you update the parent theme, your modifications are preserved through the child theme.

We recommend that you become familiar with using child themes, especially if you plan on using themes that get regularly updated.

To learn more about using child themes, visit the official WordPress child theme page here:

Congratulations! Now you know how to install and reinstall WordPress themes.

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"I am beyond impressed with what you have put together. I can tell that you put a ton of hard work into building what you have. You have the absolute best content on WordPress I have ever seen!" - Robert T. Jillie

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How To Update WordPress Themes

Learn how to easily update WordPress themes inside your dashboard …

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

In this tutorial, you will learn how to easily upgrade your WP theme to its newest version inside the dashboard.

Upgrading Themes – Best Practices Checklist

Updating Themes - Best Practices

We recommend going through the “best practices” checklist below before attempting the upgrade process.

1. Make A Backup

Backing up your website before making any updates to your site is essential. This way, if things don’t go as planned, you can always restore your web site or blog to its former 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 fully 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 are using, there may be a changelog file included with an update which provides an overview of new features, improvements, security fixes or any other information pertaining to the new version.

If the 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 an installed theme, track any bugs and verify that the new theme version doesn’t conflict with any existing plugins or settings before applying and activating 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 website.

4. Search Online

Before updating your theme, it’s a good idea to 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 offer this 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 changes to your existing 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 using child themes, especially if you 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:

Useful 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 precautionary work involved prior to upgrading.

Some people don’t upgrade their WordPress themes regularly, while others 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, as a website owner, it is solely your responsibility to protect your digital assets.

Upgrading Themes In WordPress – Step-By-Step Tutorial

Upgrading your themes in your admin dashboard is simple.

Log into your WordPress administration area …

Theme Management: Upgrading Your Theme

Depending on the theme(s) installed on your website, you may receive occasional notifications in your dashboard that new theme versions are available and require updating …

Theme Management: How To Upgrade Your Themes

Updating a WordPress theme in your WP dashboard is very simple and easy. You can update your WordPress theme from the “Themes” section, or the “Updates” section.

Updating WordPress Themes From The “Themes” Page

To see which themes need to be updated, go to your Themes area.

Choose Appearance > Themes from your WP dashboard menu …

How To Update WP Theme From Your Admin Dashboard

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 their thumbnail image …

WordPress Theme Management: Upgrading Your WordPress Themes

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

How To Update Your Themes

WordPress automatically updates the theme in seconds …

WordPress Theme Management: Upgrading Themes In WordPress

Your theme is now up-to-date …

Theme Management: Updating WP Themes From Your Admin Dashboard

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

Updating WordPress Themes From The “Updates” Section

Update your WordPress theme via the “Updates” screen as shown below:

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

Upgrading Themes In WordPress

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

Updating WP Themes From The WP Dashboard

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 Update Your Themes

WordPress will automatically update all of the selected themes …

How To Update Your Theme

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

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"If you're new to WordPress, this can stand on its own as a training course and will stay with you as you progress from beginner to advanced and even guru status." - Bruce (Columbus, Ohio)