How To Update WordPress Themes

Learn how to easily update WordPress themes inside your dashboard …

Theme Management: How To Upgrade WP Themes From Your Admin DashboardIf you are new to WordPress, make sure you read our introduction to WordPress themes. It explains what WP themes are and how using a theme can be cost-effective and time-saving for business website owners.

This tutorial will show you how to easily upgrade your themes with just a few clicks inside the admin area.

Updating Themes – Best Practices Checklist

Updating Your WordPress Theme - Best Practices

We recommend going through the checklist below before attempting the upgrade process.

1. Back Up Your Website Fully

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 a number of WordPress 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 listing any new features, improvements, security fixes or any other changes in the new theme version.

If the 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 check to see if all plugins are working fine with the new theme before applying it to 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 main website.

4. Search Online

Before updating your theme, it’s a good idea to do a quick search online to see if anyone has reported any serious problems 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 provide forums for paid themes, and even for some free plugins).

5. Is Your Theme Heavily Customized? Use A Child Theme

If you have made extensive customizations to your existing 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 the parent theme. When you update the “parent theme”, all customizations get 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:

Practical Tip

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! The part that takes the most time and effort to complete is the preparation involved prior to upgrading.

Some people don’t upgrade their 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 to help you avoid problems. Ultimately, as a website owner, it is solely your responsibility to protect your digital assets.

How To Upgrade Your Theme – Tutorial

Updating your theme from the WP dashboard is simple.

Log into your WordPress administration area …

How To Upgrade Themes In WordPress

Depending on the 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 …

Updating Your Theme

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

Updating WordPress Themes From The “Themes” Area

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

Select Appearance > Themes from your WP dashboard menu …

WordPress Theme Management: Updating Your Themes

This opens up the “Themes” screen …

How To Update Themes In WordPress

WordPress Themes that need updating display an “Update Available” message over the theme’s thumbnail image …

Upgrading Your Themes

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

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

WordPress Theme Management: Upgrading Your WP Themes

WordPress automatically updates your theme in seconds …

WordPress Theme Management: Upgrading Your WP Theme

Your WordPress theme is now updated …

WordPress Theme Management: Upgrading Your Themes

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

Updating Your Site Themes From The “Updates” Page

Update your themes using the “Updates” page as shown below:

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

Theme Management: How To Upgrade Your WordPress Theme

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

WordPress Theme Management: How To Upgrade Your Themes

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

Updating Your Themes

WordPress automatically updates all of your selected themes …

WordPress Theme Management: Updating WP Themes In The WP Dashboard

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


"I have used the tutorials to teach all of my clients and it has probably never been so easy for everyone to learn WordPress ... Now I don't need to buy all these very expensive video courses that often don't deliver what they promise." - Stefan Wendt, Internet Marketing Success Group