If you are new to WordPress, make sure you read our overview of WordPress themes. We’ve written an in-depth article that explains what WordPress themes are and how using a theme can be cost-effective and time-saving for business owners.
In this step-by-step tutorial, you will learn how to update a WordPress theme inside the admin area.
Upgrading Your WordPress Theme – Best Practices Checklist
We recommend going through the “best practices” checklist below before going through the upgrade process.
1. Back Up Your Site
Backing up your site before making any updates to your site is vital. If something goes wrong, you can always restore things back to their previous configuration.
If you don’t want to perform manual backups, there are a number of free and paid WordPress plugins you can use. You can read about a WordPress backup plugin that can 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 included with an update listing any new features, improvements, security fixes or important changes in the new theme version.
If the theme changes seem irrelevant or unimportant, you can skip the update. Otherwise, it’s best to upgrade.
3. Test The 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 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 with 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 search online and see if anyone has 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 paid themes, and even for some free plugins).
5. Use Child Themes For Heavily Customized WordPress Themes
If you have made extensive customizations to your existing theme files, upgrading your theme could 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 that parent theme. When you update the “parent theme”, all modifications 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 visit the official WordPress child theme page here:
As you will see below, the actual process of updating a WordPress theme is fairly easy. The step in the upgrading process that takes the most time and effort to complete is the preparation involved prior to upgrading.
Many people don’t upgrade their themes regularly, while others upgrade without going through 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.
Updating Your Themes – Tutorial
Updating your WordPress theme from the WP dashboard is easy.
Log into your WordPress admin area …
Depending on what theme(s) you have installed on your website, you may receive an occasional alert in your dashboard that your theme(s) need updating …
Updating WordPress themes from the dashboard is quite a simple process. You can update your WordPress themes via the “Themes” screen, or the “Updates” feature.
Updating Your Themes Using The “Themes” Section
To see which themes need to be updated, go to your Themes page.
Choose Appearance > Themes in your WordPress admin menu …
This brings you to the “Themes” page …
WordPress Themes with new versions display an “Update Available” message over their thumbnail image …
Locate the theme that needs to be updated and click on the “Update Available” alert.
When the theme details window opens up, click on update now …
WordPress automatically updates your theme …
Your WordPress theme is now updated …
Repeat the above process to update all of your out-of-date themes, or use the method described below to bulk upgrade multiple themes at once.
Updating Your Themes From The “Updates” Area
Update your WordPress theme via the “Updates” area as shown below:
To view all themes installed in your site that require updating, click on Dashboard > Updates …
This brings up the Updates screen. Scroll down to the Themes section …
Check the box next to all the themes you want to update and click on Update Themes to complete the update process …
WordPress will automatically update all of the selected themes …
Congratulations! Now you know how to update your themes from your dashboard.
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