How To Update WordPress Themes

Learn how to easily update WordPress themes inside your dashboard …

WordPress Theme Management: Upgrading Themes In WordPressIf you are new to WordPress, make sure to read our introduction to WordPress themes. It explains what WordPress themes are and how using a theme can save business owners significant time and money.

In this step-by-step tutorial, you will learn how to upgrade your WordPress themes in your dashboard.

Upgrading WP Themes – Best Practices Checklist

Upgrading Themes - Best Practices Checklist

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

1. Back Up Your Site Fully

Backing up your site before making any changes to your site is vital. This way, if something goes wrong, you can always restore.

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

2. Check The Changelog

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 some release notes accompanying an update listing any 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 update.

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 verify that the new theme version doesn’t conflict with any existing plugins or settings 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 with 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 type 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 changes to your existing WordPress theme files, updating 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 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 the use of 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 visit the WordPress Codex child theme page here:

Useful Tip

As you will see below, the actual process of updating a WordPress theme is simple. 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 for ensuring problem-free upgrades. Ultimately, as a website owner, it is your responsibility to protect your digital properties.

Upgrading Your Theme – Tutorial

Upgrading your themes in your admin dashboard is simple.

Log into your WordPress admin area …

Updating WordPress Themes In The WP Dashboard

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

Updating Themes In WordPress

Updating a theme in your dashboard is easy. You can update your WordPress themes via the “Themes” feature, or the “Updates” page.

Updating Your Site’s Theme Using The “Themes” Area

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

Select Appearance > Themes from your WP admin menu …

Theme Management: Updating Your Theme

This brings you to the “Themes” page …

WordPress Theme Management: How To Upgrade Your WP Themes

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

Upgrading Your WordPress Theme

Locate the theme that needs to be updated and click on the “Update Available” message.

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

How To Update Your Themes

WordPress will automatically update your theme in seconds …

Upgrading WP Theme From Your Admin Dashboard

Your theme is now updated …

WordPress Theme Management: How To Upgrade Your Themes

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

Updating WordPress Themes Via The “Updates” Section

Update your themes via the “Updates” section as shown below:

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

Upgrading Your Themes

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

WordPress Theme Management: How To Upgrade Your WP Theme

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

How To Upgrade Your Theme

WordPress will automatically update all of your selected themes …

WordPress Theme Management: How To Update Themes In WordPress

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


"I was absolutely amazed at the scope and breadth of these tutorials! The most in-depth training I have ever received on any subject!" - Myke O'Neill,