If you are new to WordPress, make sure you read our introduction to WordPress themes. This in-depth article explains what WP themes are and how using themes can save online business owners time and money.
In this tutorial, you will learn how to easily update WordPress themes to their latest version inside the dashboard.
Upgrading A WordPress Theme – Best Practices
We recommend going through the “best practices” checklist below before attempting the upgrade process, to make sure that no theme settings or customizations are lost and your upgrades go smoothly.
1. Back Up Everything
Backing up your site before making any updates to your site is vital. If something goes wrong, you can always restore.
If you don’t want to perform manual backups, there are many 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
Changes made to the WordPress software can affect the functionality of certain themes. Depending on the theme you are using, there may be a changelog file accompanying an update listing new features, improvements, bug 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 the theme, track bugs and make sure that all plugins are working fine with the new theme 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 name with 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 do a quick 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 offer this for premium 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 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 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 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 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, it is solely your responsibility as a website owner to protect your digital properties.
Updating Themes In WordPress – Step-By-Step Tutorial
Updating your themes from the WP dashboard is simple.
Log into your WordPress administration area …
Depending on which theme(s) you have installed on your website, you may receive occasional alerts in your WP Dashboard that new theme versions are available and require updating …
Updating WordPress themes in your dashboard is very simple and easy. You can update your themes from the “Themes” area, or the “Updates” page.
Updating Your Themes Using The “Themes” Page
To see which themes need updating, go to your Themes area.
Select Appearance > Themes from your WordPress dashboard menu …
This opens up the “Themes” screen …
Themes with new versions display an “Update Available” message over their thumbnail image …
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 …
WordPress automatically updates the theme in seconds …
Your theme is now updated …
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.
Updating WordPress Themes Via The “Updates” Area
Update your WordPress theme using the “Updates” section as follows:
To view all themes installed in your website that need updating, click on Dashboard > Updates …
This opens up the Updates screen. Scroll down to the Themes section …
Select all the themes you want to update and click on Update Themes to complete the upgrade process …
WordPress automatically updates all of your selected themes …
Congratulations! Now you know how to update your themes from your dashboard.
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