How To Update WordPress Themes

Learn how to easily update WordPress themes inside your dashboard …

Upgrading A Theme In WordPressIf you are new to WordPress, make sure you read our overview of WordPress themes. It explains what WordPress themes are and how using a theme can save small business website owners significant time and money.

This step-by-step tutorial will show you how to update your WP theme to its newest version inside your admin area.

Upgrading A WordPress Theme – Best Practices

Updating Your WordPress Theme - Best Practices Checklist

We recommend going through the “best practices” checklist below before attempting the upgrade process, to reduce any problems happening as a result of the update process.

1. Back Up Your Files

Backing up your website before making any changes to your site is essential. 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 WordPress plugins you can use. You can read about a WordPress backup plugin that can fully automate your backup process here:

2. Check The Theme Update Notes

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 accompanying an update listing any new features, improvements, security fixes or important information pertaining to the new 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 the theme, track bugs and make sure that all plugins are working fine with the new theme 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 using the same plugins and configuration settings 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 do a quick search online and see if anyone has reported any issues 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 offer this for paid WordPress themes, and even for some free plugins).

5. Use Child Themes For Heavily Customized Themes

If you have made extensive changes to your existing WordPress theme files, upgrading 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”, 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 plan to use 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 easy. The bit of the update process that takes the most time and effort to complete is the preparation involved prior to upgrading.

Many people don’t upgrade their WordPress themes regularly, while many upgrade without going through some or 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, as a website owner, it is your responsibility to protect your online properties.

Updating WordPress Themes In Your Dashboard – Step-By-Step Tutorial

Updating your theme in your dashboard is easy.

Log into your WordPress admin area …

Updating Your WordPress Theme

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

Theme Management: Updating Your Themes

Updating themes in your WP dashboard is very simple and easy. You can update your themes from the “Themes” page, or the “Updates” section.

Updating Your Site’s Theme Via The “Themes” Area

To see which themes need to be updated, go to your Themes page.

Choose Appearance > Themes in your WordPress admin menu …

WordPress Theme Management: Upgrading Your WordPress Theme

This opens up the “Themes” page …

Updating Your Themes

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

Upgrading Your Theme

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

How To Upgrade Your WP Theme

WordPress automatically updates your theme in seconds …

Updating A Theme In WordPress

Your WordPress theme is now up-to-date …

How To Update A Theme In WordPress

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

Updating Your Site Themes Via The “Updates” Screen

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

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

How To Update Your Theme

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

WordPress Theme Management: Upgrading Your Themes

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

Upgrading Your Themes

WordPress automatically updates all of the selected themes …

Upgrading Your WP Theme

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


"Wow! I never knew there's so much to learn about WordPress! I bought one of the WordPress for Dummies three years ago, such authors need to be on this course!" - Rich Law, Create A Blog Now