How To Update WordPress Themes

Learn how to easily update WordPress themes inside your dashboard …

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Upgrading Your ThemesIf you are new to WordPress, make sure you read our overview of WordPress themes. We’ve written a detailed article that explains what WordPress themes are and how using themes can be cost-effective and time-saving for website owners.

In this tutorial, you will learn how to easily update your WP themes with just a few clicks inside your dashboard.

Upgrading WP Themes – Best Practices

Upgrading WordPress Themes - Best Practices

Before updating your themes, we recommend going through the “best practices” checklist below to help prevent any problems occuring during the upgrade process.

1. Back Up Your Site

Backing up your files and data before making any changes to your site is vital. Whenever something doesn’t go as planned, you can always restore things back to their former settings.

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 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 have installed, there may be a changelog file accompanying an update which provides an overview of new features, improvements, security 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 upgrade.

3. Test The Theme

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

Useful Tip

Typically, web service providers will set up a test site where they can test the latest version of an installed theme, track any bugs and check to see if all plugins are working fine with the new theme 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 with the same configuration settings (e.g. plugins) and play with the 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 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 offer this for premium themes, and even for some free plugins).

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

If you have made extensive customizations 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 the parent theme. When you update the “parent theme”, all customizations are preserved through the “child theme.”

If you plan to customize your theme files, then we recommend becoming familiar with 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 official WordPress 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 of the upgrading process 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 many 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 the website owner’s responsibility to protect their online assets.

Updating Your Themes – Tutorial

Upgrading your themes from your dashboard is easy.

Log into your WordPress administration area …

WordPress Theme Management: Upgrading A Theme In WordPress

Depending on the theme(s) you have installed on your site, you may receive occasional notifications in your WP Dashboard that new theme versions are available and require updating …

How To Update Your WordPress Themes

Updating a theme from the dashboard is simple and easy. You can update your themes using the “Themes” area, or the “Updates” feature.

Updating Your Site Themes From The “Themes” Area

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

Choose Appearance > Themes in your WP dashboard menu …

How To Upgrade Your Theme

This opens up the “Themes” page …

Theme Management: How To Update Themes In WordPress

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

Updating Themes In WordPress

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: Updating A Theme In WordPress

WordPress will automatically update your theme in seconds …

WordPress Theme Management: Updating Your Theme

Your theme is now updated …

Updating A Theme In WordPress

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

Updating WordPress Themes Via The “Updates” Page

Update your WordPress theme using the “Updates” area as shown below:

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

How To Update Themes In WordPress

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

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 bulk update process …

Theme Management: Upgrading A Theme In WordPress

WordPress automatically updates all of the selected themes …

Upgrading A Theme In WordPress

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

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Author: Martin Aranovitch

Martin Aranovitch is the owner of WPCompendium.org and the author of The WordPress User Manual. WPCompendium.org provides hundreds of FREE tutorials that show you how to use WordPress to grow your business online with no coding skills required! Get our FREE "101+ WordPress Tips, Tricks & Hacks For Non-Techies" e-course with loads of useful WordPress tips!

Originally published as How To Update WordPress Themes.