How To Update WordPress Themes

Learn how to easily update WordPress themes inside your dashboard …

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Theme Management: Updating Your ThemesIf you are new to WordPress, make sure you read our introduction to WordPress themes. It explains what WordPress themes are and how they can save business website owners significant time and money.

In this step-by-step tutorial, you will learn how to easily update themes with just a few clicks inside the dashboard.

Updating WordPress Themes – Best Practices

Upgrading Themes - Best Practices Checklist

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

1. Back Up Your Site Fully

Backing up your site before making any changes to your site is essential. Whenever something doesn’t go as planned, you can always restore.

If you don’t want to perform manual backups, there are many free and paid plugins you can use. Learn 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 information pertaining to the new version.

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

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 a theme, track any bugs and make sure that the new theme version doesn’t conflict with any existing plugins or settings before installing 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 using the same configuration settings (e.g. plugins) and play with the 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 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 provide forums for paid 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, 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 the 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 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 recommended “best practice” methods for ensuring problem-free upgrades. Ultimately, as a website owner, it is solely your responsibility to protect your online properties.

Updating Themes In WordPress – Step-By-Step Tutorial

Updating your WordPress theme in the WP dashboard is easy.

Log into your WordPress admin area …

WordPress Theme Management: Updating WP Themes In Your Admin Dashboard

Depending on what theme(s) you have installed on your site, you may receive an occasional alert in your WordPress Dashboard that your theme(s) need updating …

How To Upgrade A Theme In WordPress

Updating WordPress themes from the dashboard is a simple process. You can update your WordPress themes via the “Themes” page, or the “Updates” section.

Updating Your Themes Using The “Themes” Area

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

Choose Appearance > Themes in your WordPress dashboard menu …

Upgrading Your WP Themes

This brings you to the “Themes” page …

Upgrading Your Theme

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

Theme Management: Upgrading Your Themes

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

WordPress Theme Management: How To Upgrade Themes In WordPress

WordPress will automatically update your theme in seconds …

Theme Management: How To Update Your WP Theme

Your theme is now updated …

Theme Management: How To Upgrade Your Themes

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

Updating Your Theme Via The “Updates” Area

Update your themes from the “Updates” screen as shown below:

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

Upgrading Your Theme

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

Updating Your WordPress Theme

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

WordPress Theme Management: Updating WordPress Theme In Your Dashboard

WordPress will automatically update all of the selected themes …

Upgrading Themes In WordPress

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


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Originally published as How To Update WordPress Themes.