How To Update WordPress Themes

Learn how to easily update WordPress themes inside your dashboard …

Upgrading Your ThemeIf you are new to WordPress, make sure you read our overview of WordPress themes. It explains what WP themes are and how using a theme can save online business owners time and money.

In this tutorial, you will learn how to easily update WP themes inside the admin area.

Upgrading WordPress Themes – Best Practices Checklist

Upgrading WordPress Themes - Best Practices Checklist

Before updating any themes, we recommend going through the handy checklist below.

1. Back Up Everything

Backing up your site before making any updates 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 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 are using, there may be some release notes included with an update which provides an overview of new features, improvements, bug fixes or any other changes in the new theme 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 bugs and make sure that all plugins are working fine with the new theme before applying and activating 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 test 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 and see if other theme users have reported any issues 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 paid 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 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”, your modifications 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 plan to use a theme that gets regularly updated. You can learn more about child themes by searching online, or visit the WordPress Codex child theme page here:


As you will see below, the actual process of updating a WordPress theme is fairly easy. What can feel slightly bothersome is the precautionary work involved prior to upgrading.

Some people don’t upgrade their WordPress themes regularly, while many 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 solely your responsibility to protect your online properties.

How To Upgrade Your WP Themes – Tutorial

Updating your themes from your admin dashboard is simple.

Log into your WordPress administration area …

WordPress Theme Management: Upgrading Themes In WordPress

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

Updating Your WordPress Themes

Updating WordPress themes from your WP dashboard is quite simple and easy. You can update your theme via the “Themes” page, or the “Updates” section.

Updating Your Themes From The “Themes” Section

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

Choose Appearance > Themes in your WP admin menu …

Theme Management: Updating A Theme In WordPress

This opens up the “Themes” screen …

Upgrading WordPress Themes In Your Dashboard

Themes with new versions display an “Update Available” message over the theme’s thumbnail image …

How To Upgrade WordPress Theme From Your Dashboard

Locate the theme that needs to be updated and click on the “Update Available” message.

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

WordPress Theme Management: Updating Your WP Theme

WordPress automatically updates the theme in seconds …

Upgrading Your Themes

Your WordPress theme is now updated …

WordPress Theme Management: Upgrading Your WP Theme

Repeat the process described above to update all of your outdated themes, or use the method below to upgrade multiple themes.

Updating Your Site Themes From The “Updates” Section

Update your theme from the “Updates” page as shown below:

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

Upgrading WordPress Themes In Your Dashboard

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

Theme Management: Updating Your Theme

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

Updating Themes In WordPress

WordPress automatically updates all of your selected themes …

Theme Management: Updating Themes In WordPress

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


"Wow! I never knew there's so much to learn about WordPress! I bought one of the WordPress for Dummies three years ago, such authors need to be on this course!" - Rich Law, Create A Blog Now

Originally published as How To Update WordPress Themes.