How To Update WordPress Themes

Learn how to easily update WordPress themes inside your dashboard …

How To Update Your WP ThemesIf you are new to WordPress, make sure to read our overview of WordPress themes. We’ve written a detailed article that explains what WP themes are and how using themes can save website owners time and money.

This tutorial will show you how to upgrade your WordPress theme in the admin area.

Updating WordPress Themes – Best Practices

Upgrading WP Themes - Best Practices Checklist

We recommend going through the checklist below before going through the upgrade process, to make sure that your upgrades go smoothly.

1. Back Up Everything

Backing up your files and data before making any changes to your site is vital. Whenever something doesn’t go as planned, you can always restore things back to their former configuration.

If you don’t want to perform manual backups, there are many plugins you can use. You can read about a WordPress backup plugin that can fully automate your site backups 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 have installed, there may be some release notes accompanying an update listing any new features, improvements, security fixes or important information pertaining to the new theme version.

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

3. Test The 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 an installed theme, track bugs and check if all plugins are working fine with the new theme 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 site.

4. Search Online

Before updating your theme, it’s a good idea to search online and see if anyone has 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 premium themes, and even for some free plugins).

5. Is Your WordPress Theme Customized? Use A Child Theme

If you have made extensive customizations to your existing 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 customizations 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 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! The bit of the updating process that takes the most time and effort to complete is the preparation involved prior to upgrading.

Some 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 to help you avoid problems. Ultimately, it is solely your responsibility as a website owner to protect your digital properties.

How To Upgrade Your WP Theme – Tutorial

Updating your WP themes in your dashboard is easy.

Log into your WordPress administration area …

Theme Management: How To Update Themes In WordPress

Depending on the theme(s) you have installed on your website, you may receive occasional notifications in your WordPress Dashboard that your theme(s) need updating …

Updating Themes In WordPress

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

Updating Your Themes Using The “Themes” Screen

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

Select Appearance > Themes from your WP admin menu …

Updating Your Themes

This brings you to the “Themes” screen …

Theme Management: Updating WP Themes From The WP Dashboard

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

Updating Themes In WordPress

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

Theme Management: Upgrading Your Themes

WordPress will automatically update the theme …

WordPress Theme Management: How To Update Your Theme

Your WordPress theme is now up-to-date …

Updating Themes In WordPress

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

Updating WordPress Themes From The “Updates” Page

Update your themes from the “Updates” page as shown below:

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

Theme Management: How To Upgrade WP Theme In Your Dashboard

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

WordPress Theme Management: Upgrading Your Themes

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

How To Upgrade A Theme In WordPress

WordPress will automatically update all of the selected themes …

WordPress Theme Management: Updating Your Theme

Congratulations! Now you know how to upgrade your WordPress themes in your admin dashboard.


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