How To Update WordPress Themes

Learn how to easily update WordPress themes inside your dashboard.

Theme Management: How To Upgrade Your WordPress ThemesIf you are new to WordPress, make sure to read our introduction to WordPress themes. This comprehensive article explains what WordPress themes are and how they can save small business website owners significant time and money.

This tutorial will show you how to easily upgrade a theme to a new version inside the admin area.

Updating WP Themes – Best Practices Checklist

Updating Themes - Best Practices

We recommend going through the checklist below before attempting the upgrade process, to make sure that your upgrades go smoothly.

1. Make A Complete Backup

Backing up your website before making any updates to your site is essential. This way, if something goes wrong, you can always restore things back to their previous configuration.

If you don’t want to perform manual backups, there are a number of 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 have installed, there may be a changelog file accompanying an update listing any new features, improvements, bug fixes or any other changes in the new version.

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

3. Test Your 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 a theme, track any bugs and check to see if all plugins are working fine with the new theme before applying and activating it on 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 configuration settings (e.g. plugins) 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 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 premium themes, and even for some free plugins).

5. Is Your Theme Customized? Use A Child Theme

If you have made extensive changes to your existing theme files, upgrading 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 that 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:

Tip

As you will see below, the actual process of updating a WordPress theme is very simple. The bit of this process that takes the most time and effort to complete is the precautionary work involved prior to upgrading.

Many people don’t upgrade their WordPress themes regularly, while others upgrade without going through some or all of the steps listed in the section above. As mentioned earlier, the above are “best practice” methods for ensuring problem-free upgrades. Ultimately, as a website owner, it is your responsibility to protect your online properties.

How To Update WP Theme In The WP Dashboard – Step-By-Step Tutorial

Upgrading your theme in the WP dashboard is easy.

Log into your WordPress admin area …

How To Update Your WordPress Themes

Depending on the theme(s) you have installed on your website, you may receive occasional alerts in your dashboard that new theme versions are available and require updating …

How To Upgrade A Theme In WordPress

Updating themes from your dashboard is easy. You can update your theme using the “Themes” page, or the “Updates” page.

Updating Your Site’s Theme Using The “Themes” Page

You can see which themes need updating by going to your Themes page.

Select Appearance > Themes in your WordPress dashboard menu …

How To Update Your WP Themes

This brings you to the “Themes” screen …

Updating Your WordPress Theme

WordPress Themes that need updating display an “Update Available” message over their thumbnail image …

WordPress Theme Management: How To Update Your WP Theme

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

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

Upgrading Your Theme

WordPress will automatically update the theme in seconds …

Theme Management: Upgrading Your Theme

Your WordPress theme is now updated …

WordPress Theme Management: Upgrading A Theme In WordPress

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

Updating WordPress Themes Via The “Updates” Page

Update your themes from the “Updates” screen as follows:

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

Theme Management: Updating Your Theme

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

Upgrading A Theme In WordPress

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

WordPress Theme Management: Updating WP Theme From Your Admin Dashboard

WordPress automatically updates all of the selected themes …

WordPress Theme Management: How To Update Your Themes

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

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"These tutorials have so much information and are easy to understand. If you use WordPress or plan to in the future these will help you with everything you need to know." - Valisa (Mesa, Arizona)

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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.