How To Update WordPress Themes

Learn how to easily update WordPress themes inside your dashboard.

Theme Management: Updating WP Themes From The WP DashboardIf you are new to WordPress, make sure to read our introduction to WordPress themes. The comprehensive article explains what themes are and how using a theme can be cost-effective and time-saving for small business owners.

This tutorial will show you how to easily update WordPress themes with just a few clicks inside your admin area.

Updating Themes – Best Practices Checklist

Upgrading WordPress Themes - Best Practices

We recommend going through the “best practices” checklist below before going through the upgrade process.

1. Back Up Your Site Files And Data

Backing up your website before making any changes to your site is essential. 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 free and paid 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

When WordPress upgrades its software to a new version, this can affect the functionality of certain themes. Depending on the theme you are using, there may be a changelog file accompanying an update which provides an overview of 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 The Theme

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

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 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 name with 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 and see if other theme users have 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 customizations to your existing 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 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 official WordPress child theme page here:

Useful Tip

As you will see below, the actual process of updating a WordPress theme is simple. The part of the upgrade 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 many upgrade without going through all of the steps listed in the section above. As mentioned earlier, the above are recommended “best practice” methods to help you avoid problems. Ultimately, it is your responsibility as a website owner to protect your online assets.

How To Update WP Themes In Your Dashboard – Tutorial

Updating your theme in your dashboard is simple.

Log into your WordPress administration area …

Upgrading WP Theme From Your Admin Dashboard

Depending on which theme(s) you have installed on your website, you may receive an occasional notification in your WP Dashboard that your theme(s) need updating …

Updating Themes In WordPress

Updating WordPress themes from your dashboard is easy. You can update your themes from the “Themes” section, or the “Updates” area.

Updating Your Site Themes Using The “Themes” Page

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

Select Appearance > Themes from your WP dashboard menu …

WordPress Theme Management: How To Update Themes In WordPress

This brings you to the “Themes” page …

Theme Management: Upgrading WordPress Theme From Your Admin Dashboard

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

Theme Management: Updating WordPress Theme In The WP Dashboard

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

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

WordPress Theme Management: How To Update Your Theme

WordPress will automatically update your theme in seconds …

How To Upgrade Your Themes

Your WordPress theme is now updated …

Theme Management: Upgrading Themes In WordPress

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

Updating WordPress Themes Via The “Updates” Area

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

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

Upgrading Your Themes

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

WordPress Theme Management: How To Update Your Themes

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

How To Update Your Themes

WordPress will automatically update all of your selected themes …

WordPress Theme Management: Updating Themes In WordPress

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

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Author: Martin Aranovitch

Martin Aranovitch is the founder of WPCompendium.org and the author of The Small Business Digital Manager. 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.