How To Update WordPress Themes

Learn how to easily update WordPress themes inside your dashboard …

WordPress Theme Management: Updating Your ThemeIf you are new to WordPress, make sure to read our introduction to WordPress themes. We’ve written a comprehensive article that explains what WordPress themes are and how they can save business owners time and money.

This tutorial will show you how to upgrade themes in your admin area.

Updating A WordPress Theme – Best Practices Checklist

Updating WordPress Themes - Best Practices Checklist

Before updating any themes, we recommend going through the handy checklist below.

1. Back Up Everything

Backing up your files and data before making any updates to your site is essential. If something goes wrong, you can always restore everything to its former configuration.

If you don’t want to perform manual backups, there are a number of plugins you can use. Learn about a WordPress backup plugin that can fully automate your site backups here:

2. Check The Changelog

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 included with an update which provides an overview of any new features, improvements, bug fixes or important changes in the new theme version.

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

3. Test The Theme

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

Practical Tip

Typically, web service providers will set up a test site where they can test the latest version of a theme, track bugs and make sure that the new theme version doesn’t conflict with any existing plugins or settings 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 using the same configuration settings (e.g. plugins) and test new theme versions on your test site before applying it to your live 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 issues 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 themes, and even for some free plugins).

5. Use Child Themes For Heavily Customized WordPress Themes

If you have made extensive changes 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 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 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:


As you will see below, the actual process of updating a WordPress theme is easy. What can feel slightly bothersome is the preparation involved prior to upgrading.

Many people don’t upgrade their WordPress themes regularly, while others upgrade without going through all of the steps listed in the section above. As mentioned earlier, the above are “best practice” methods for ensuring problem-free upgrades. Ultimately, it is solely your responsibility as a website owner to protect your online properties.

Upgrading WP Themes From The WP Dashboard – Tutorial

Upgrading your themes from your admin dashboard is easy.

Log into your WordPress admin area …

WordPress Theme Management: Updating A Theme In WordPress

Depending on which theme(s) are installed on your website, you may receive an occasional notification in your WordPress Dashboard that your theme(s) need updating …

WordPress Theme Management: How To Update Your Themes

Updating themes from your dashboard is very simple and easy. You can update your WordPress theme from the “Themes” screen, or the “Updates” area.

Updating Your Theme Using The “Themes” Page

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

Select Appearance > Themes from your WordPress admin menu …

Upgrading WordPress Theme In The WP Dashboard

This opens up the “Themes” screen …

Theme Management: How To Update A Theme In WordPress

WordPress Themes that need updating display an “Update Available” message over their thumbnail image …

How To Update Your Themes

Locate the theme you want to update and click on the “Update Available” message.

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

Theme Management: How To Upgrade Your Themes

WordPress automatically updates the theme in seconds …

Theme Management: Upgrading WP Theme From The WP Dashboard

Your WordPress theme is now updated …

How To Update Your Themes

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

Updating Your Site Themes Via The “Updates” Section

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

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

Upgrading A Theme In WordPress

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

Theme Management: Upgrading WordPress Themes From Your Dashboard

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

How To Update A Theme In WordPress

WordPress will automatically update all of the selected themes …

WordPress Theme Management: Upgrading Themes In WordPress

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


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