How To Update WordPress Themes

Learn how to easily update WordPress themes inside your dashboard …

Upgrading Your ThemeIf you are new to WordPress, make sure you read our overview of WordPress themes. The comprehensive article explains what WordPress themes are and how using themes can be cost-effective and time-saving for small business owners.

In this tutorial, you will learn how to easily update your WordPress themes to a new version inside the admin area.

Upgrading Your WordPress Theme – Best Practices

Updating Themes - Best Practices Checklist

We recommend going through the handy checklist below before attempting the upgrade process, to help minimize any problems affecting your site during your updating process.

1. Make A Backup

Backing up your site 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 WordPress plugins you can use. You can read about a WordPress backup plugin that can fully 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 a changelog file accompanying an update which provides an overview of 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 update.

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 a theme, track any bugs and verify 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’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 test new theme versions on your test site before applying it to your main site.

4. Search Online

Before updating your theme, it’s a good idea to do a quick search online and 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. Use Child Themes For Heavily Customized WordPress Themes

If you have made extensive customizations to your existing WordPress 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 the parent theme. When you update the “parent theme”, your customizations 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 on using a theme that gets regularly updated. You can learn more about child themes by searching online, or just visit the official WordPress child theme page here:


As you will see below, the actual process of updating a WordPress theme is simple. The part of the upgrade process that takes the most time and effort to complete 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 solely your responsibility to protect your online properties.

How To Upgrade Your Themes – Step-By-Step Tutorial

Updating your WordPress themes from your admin dashboard is simple.

Log into your WordPress admin area …

Theme Management: Updating Themes In WordPress

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

How To Update Themes In WordPress

Updating themes from the WP dashboard is easy. You can update your theme from the “Themes” feature, or the “Updates” feature.

Updating Your Site Themes From The “Themes” Area

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

Select Appearance > Themes in your WP dashboard menu …

WordPress Theme Management: How To Upgrade Themes In WordPress

This brings you to the “Themes” page …

Updating Your Themes

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

Updating A Theme In WordPress

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

Theme Management: Updating Your Themes

WordPress will automatically update your theme in seconds …

WordPress Theme Management: How To Upgrade Themes In WordPress

Your WordPress theme is now updated …

Upgrading WordPress Themes In The WP Dashboard

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

Updating Your Site Themes Via The “Updates” Section

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

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

WordPress Theme Management: Updating Your Theme

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

How To Update A Theme In WordPress

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

Upgrading WP Theme From Your Admin Dashboard

WordPress automatically updates all of the selected themes …

Theme Management: Upgrading Your Themes

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


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