How To Update WordPress Themes

Learn how to easily update WordPress themes inside your dashboard …

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

This tutorial will show you how to update your themes with just a few clicks inside your dashboard.

Updating WordPress Themes – Best Practices Checklist

Upgrading Your WordPress Theme - Best Practices

We recommend going through the “best practices” checklist below before going through the upgrade process, to reduce the risk of any problems occurring as a result of your update process.

1. Back Up Everything

Backing up your files and data 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 many free and paid plugins you can use. Learn about a WordPress backup plugin that can automate your backup process here:

2. Check The Theme Update Notes

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

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

3. Test Your Theme

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

Useful 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 verify that all plugins are working fine with the new theme before applying it to a live site.

If you manage your own website, you can install a test WordPress site on a subdomain or a separate domain name with the same plugins and configuration settings and play with the new theme versions on your test site before applying it to your main 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 serious problems 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 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 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 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 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.

Some 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, it is the website owner’s responsibility to protect their digital assets.

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

Updating your themes from your admin dashboard is easy.

Log into your WordPress administration area …

Theme Management: Upgrading Your Theme

Depending on what theme(s) are installed on your website, you may receive an occasional alert in your dashboard that your theme(s) need updating …

Theme Management: Upgrading Your WordPress Theme

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

Updating Your Site Themes Using The “Themes” Page

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

Choose Appearance > Themes in your WordPress admin menu …

Updating A Theme In WordPress

This brings you to the “Themes” page …

WordPress Theme Management: How To Update WP Theme From Your Admin Dashboard

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

Updating Your Theme

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

Updating Themes In WordPress

WordPress automatically updates the theme in seconds …

Updating WordPress Theme From Your Admin Dashboard

Your theme is now updated …

Theme Management: Updating WordPress Theme From Your Admin Dashboard

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

Updating Your Site’s Theme Via The “Updates” Area

Update your themes using the “Updates” section as follows:

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

Updating Themes In WordPress

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

Upgrading Your Theme

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

How To Upgrade Your Themes

WordPress automatically updates all of the selected themes …

Upgrading Your Themes

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


"This is an awesome training series. I have a pretty good understanding of WordPress already, but this is helping me to move somewhere from intermediate to advanced user!" - Kim Lednum