How To Update WordPress Themes

Learn how to easily update WordPress themes inside your dashboard.

Updating Your WordPress ThemeIf you are new to WordPress, make sure to read our introduction to WordPress themes. It explains what WordPress themes are and how using a theme can save web business owners time and money.

In this step-by-step tutorial, you will learn how to upgrade your theme inside the admin area.

Updating Themes – Best Practices

Upgrading WP Themes - Best Practices

Before updating any themes, we recommend going through the “best practices” checklist below to ensure that no settings or customizations are lost and your upgrades go smoothly.

1. Back Up Your Site Fully

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

If you don’t want to perform manual backups, there are many WordPress plugins you can use. You can read about a WordPress backup plugin that can fully automate your backup process 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 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 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 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 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 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 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. Is Your WordPress Theme Heavily Customized? Use A Child Theme

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 that parent theme. When you update the “parent theme”, all modifications get preserved through the “child theme.”

If you plan to customize your theme files, then we recommend becoming familiar with the use of child themes, especially if you plan on using 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! What can feel slightly bothersome is the preparation involved prior to upgrading.

Many 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 to help you avoid problems. Ultimately, as a website owner, it is your responsibility to protect your digital assets.

How To Update A Theme In WordPress – Tutorial

Updating your themes from your admin dashboard is easy.

Log into your WordPress administration area …

WordPress Theme Management: How To Upgrade Your Themes

Depending on what theme(s) you have installed on your site, you may receive occasional alerts in your dashboard that your theme(s) need updating …

Theme Management: Upgrading Themes In WordPress

Updating themes in your WP dashboard is very simple and easy. You can update your site’s theme using the “Themes” page, or the “Updates” area.

Updating WordPress Themes Via The “Themes” Screen

You can see which themes require updating by going to your Themes area.

Choose Appearance > Themes in your WordPress admin menu …

WordPress Theme Management: How To Update A Theme In WordPress

This brings you to the “Themes” screen …

Theme Management: Updating Your WordPress Theme

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

How To Upgrade Your Themes

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

Upgrading Themes In WordPress

WordPress automatically updates the theme in seconds …

WordPress Theme Management: How To Update Your Themes

Your theme is now up-to-date …

WordPress Theme Management: Upgrading WP Themes From The WP Dashboard

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

Updating WordPress Themes From The “Updates” Screen

Update your WordPress themes via the “Updates” section as shown below:

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

Theme Management: Upgrading Your WordPress Themes

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

Theme Management: Updating Your Theme

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

How To Update Your WordPress Themes

WordPress automatically updates all of the selected themes …

Upgrading Your WordPress Theme

Congratulations! Now you know how to update your theme 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)

Disclaimer: We are not associated with WordPress, Automattic, or any WordPress-related products discussed on this site. We may receive a financial benefit from the sale of any third-party products and/or services advertised, reviewed or linked to our website. All images and details sourced from product websites are the copyright of their respective owners and comply with all license terms and agreements of use to the best of our knowledge.

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Author: Martin Aranovitch

Martin Aranovitch is the founder of WPCompendium.org and has authored hundreds of FREE WordPress tutorials for non-techies and beginners. WPCompendium.org provides detailed step-by-step tutorials that will teach you how to use WordPress with no coding skills required and grow your business online at minimal cost!