How To Update WordPress Themes

Learn how to easily update WordPress themes inside your dashboard …

WordPress Theme Management: Upgrading Your ThemesIf you are new to WordPress, make sure to read our introduction to WordPress themes. This detailed article explains what WP themes are and how using a theme can be cost-effective and time-saving for online business owners.

This step-by-step tutorial will show you how to easily upgrade WP themes to their latest version inside your admin area.

Updating Themes – Best Practices

Upgrading Themes - Best Practices Checklist

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

1. Make A Complete Backup

Backing up your website before making any updates to your site is vital. Whenever something doesn’t go as planned, you can always restore.

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 Changelog

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 included with an update which provides an overview of any new features, improvements, bug fixes or important changes in the new theme version.

If the theme changes seem irrelevant or unimportant, you can skip the update. Otherwise, you should upgrade.

3. Test The Theme

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


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 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 install a test WordPress site on a subdomain or a separate domain name using the same configuration settings (e.g. plugins) and test new theme versions on your test site before applying it to your main site.

4. Search Online

Before updating your theme, it’s a good idea to do a quick search online and see if anyone has reported any serious problems 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 offer this for premium WordPress themes, and even for some free plugins).

5. Use Child Themes For Heavily Customized Themes

If you have made extensive customizations to your existing WordPress theme files, updating 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 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 the use of 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 just visit the WordPress Codex child theme page here:

Useful 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 step in the upgrading process that takes the most time and effort to complete is the precautionary work involved prior to upgrading.

Many people don’t upgrade their 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 recommended “best practice” methods for ensuring problem-free upgrades. Ultimately, it is solely the website owner’s responsibility to protect their digital assets.

How To Upgrade Your Themes – Step-By-Step Tutorial

Updating your WP themes in the WP dashboard is easy.

Log into your WordPress administration area …

Theme Management: How To Update A Theme In WordPress

Depending on the theme(s) installed on your site, you may receive occasional alerts in your WP Dashboard that your theme(s) need updating …

How To Update Your WordPress Themes

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

Updating Your Theme From The “Themes” Screen

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

Choose Appearance > Themes from your WP dashboard menu …

Upgrading WordPress Theme In The WP Dashboard

This opens up the “Themes” screen …

Theme Management: How To Upgrade WP Theme From The WP Dashboard

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

How To Update Your Themes

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

Theme Management: Upgrading Your Themes

WordPress automatically updates the theme in seconds …

WordPress Theme Management: How To Update Themes In WordPress

Your WordPress theme is now updated …

WordPress Theme Management: Upgrading WP Theme In Your Admin Dashboard

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

Updating WordPress Themes From The “Updates” Screen

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

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

Theme Management: Upgrading WP Themes From The WP Dashboard

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

Theme Management: Upgrading Your Theme

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

Theme Management: Upgrading WP Themes From The WP Dashboard

WordPress will automatically update all of your selected themes …

Theme Management: Upgrading Your Themes

Congratulations! Now you know how to upgrade your theme in the WP dashboard.


"This is AMAZING! I had learnt about how to use WordPress previously, but this covers absolutely everything and more!! Incredible value! Thank you!" - Monique, Warrior Forum

Originally published as How To Update WordPress Themes.