How To Update WordPress Themes

Learn how to easily update WordPress themes inside your dashboard …

Theme Management: How To Update Your ThemesIf you are new to WordPress, make sure to read our introduction to WordPress themes. We’ve written a comprehensive article that explains what themes are and how using a theme can save web business owners time and money.

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

Updating WP Themes – Best Practices Checklist

Upgrading Themes - Best Practices Checklist

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

1. Back Up Your Site Files And Data

Backing up your website before making any updates to your site is essential. This way, if something goes wrong, you can always restore everything to its 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 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 new features, improvements, security fixes or any other information pertaining to the new theme version.

If the theme 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 the theme, track 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 manage your own website, you can set up a test WordPress site on a subdomain or a separate domain using the same plugins and configuration settings 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 enter the theme name and version into Google, and search the theme developer’s support forum (many developers provide forums for premium themes, and even for some free plugins).

5. Use Child Themes For Heavily Customized Themes

If you have made extensive changes to your existing theme files, updating 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 that parent theme. When you update the “parent theme”, all modifications are 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 plan on using 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:


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.

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

Upgrading Your Theme – Step-By-Step Tutorial

Updating your WP themes in the WP dashboard is simple.

Log into your WordPress administration area …

Upgrading WordPress Themes From Your Admin Dashboard

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

Updating Themes In WordPress

Updating themes in your WP dashboard is a simple process. You can update your themes using the “Themes” feature, or the “Updates” area.

Updating WordPress Themes Via The “Themes” Area

You can see which themes need updating by going to your Themes page.

Choose Appearance > Themes in your WP admin menu …

Upgrading Themes In WordPress

This opens up the “Themes” page …

Upgrading Your Themes

Themes with new versions display an “Update Available” message over the theme’s thumbnail image …

WordPress Theme Management: How To Update Themes In WordPress

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

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

Theme Management: Updating Your Themes

WordPress will automatically update your theme in seconds …

WordPress Theme Management: Upgrading WP Themes In The WP Dashboard

Your theme is now updated …

How To Update Themes In WordPress

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

Updating Your Site’s Theme Using The “Updates” Section

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

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

WordPress Theme Management: Updating WordPress Themes In Your Dashboard

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

WordPress Theme Management: Updating Your Theme

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

Upgrading Themes In WordPress

WordPress will automatically update all of your selected themes …

Theme Management: Updating Your Theme

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


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