How To Update WordPress Themes

Learn how to easily update WordPress themes inside your dashboard …

How To Update A Theme In WordPressIf you are new to WordPress, make sure you read our overview of WordPress themes. It explains what themes are and how using a theme can be cost-effective and time-saving for small business website owners.

This step-by-step tutorial will show you how to easily upgrade your theme 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 Everything

Backing up your site before making any changes to your site is vital. This way, if things don’t go as planned, 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 fully 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 which provides an overview of any new features, improvements, security fixes or any other changes in the new version.

If the theme changes seem irrelevant or unimportant, you can skip the update. Otherwise, you should 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 an installed theme, track any bugs and make sure that the new theme version doesn’t conflict with any existing plugins or settings before installing and activating it on 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 configuration settings (e.g. plugins) and test 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 to see if other theme users have 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 WordPress themes, and even for some free plugins).

5. Is Your 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 that parent theme. When you update the “parent theme”, your modifications get 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 to use 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:

Practical 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.

Some 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 “best practice” methods to help you avoid problems. Ultimately, it is the website owner’s responsibility to protect their online assets.

Upgrading A Theme In WordPress – Tutorial

Upgrading your theme in your admin dashboard is simple.

Log into your WordPress admin area …

Theme Management: How To Upgrade WordPress Theme In Your Dashboard

Depending on what 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 …

Upgrading Your WordPress Theme

Updating a WordPress theme in the dashboard is quite simple and easy. You can update your WordPress themes using the “Themes” area, or the “Updates” page.

Updating Your Theme Using The “Themes” Screen

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

Select Appearance > Themes from your WP dashboard menu …

Upgrading Your Theme

This opens up the “Themes” screen …

How To Update WordPress Themes From Your Admin Dashboard

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

WordPress Theme Management: Updating Your Themes

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

Upgrading Your WP Theme

WordPress will automatically update your theme in seconds …

WordPress Theme Management: Updating Themes In WordPress

Your WordPress theme is now updated …

Theme Management: How To Update WP Themes From Your Dashboard

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

Updating WordPress Themes Using The “Updates” Page

Update your theme from the “Updates” screen as follows:

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

How To Update Your WordPress Theme

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

WordPress Theme Management: Upgrading Themes In WordPress

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

Upgrading Themes In WordPress

WordPress will automatically update all of the selected themes …

How To Upgrade Themes In WordPress

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


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