How To Update WordPress Themes

Learn how to easily update WordPress themes inside your dashboard …

Theme Management: Upgrading Your ThemeIf you are new to WordPress, make sure you read our introduction to WordPress themes. It explains what WP themes are and how using themes can save small business owners significant time and money.

In this tutorial, you will learn how to upgrade themes inside your dashboard.

Updating Themes – Best Practices Checklist

Upgrading Themes - Best Practices Checklist

We recommend going through the checklist below before attempting the upgrade process.

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 many plugins you can use. You can read about a WordPress backup plugin that can fully automate your site backups 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 accompanying an update listing any new features, improvements, bug fixes or any other information pertaining to the new theme version.

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

3. Test Your 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 the theme, track bugs and make sure that all plugins are working fine with the new theme before applying it to 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 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 visit the WordPress Codex 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! The bit 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 many upgrade without going through 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 digital assets.

Updating Your WP Theme – Step-By-Step Tutorial

Updating your theme from the WP dashboard is easy.

Log into your WordPress admin area …

How To Update Themes In WordPress

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

WordPress Theme Management: Updating Your WP Themes

Updating a theme in your dashboard is a simple process. You can update your themes from the “Themes” feature, or the “Updates” page.

Updating Your Site’s Theme Via The “Themes” Area

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

Select Appearance > Themes in your WordPress admin menu …

Upgrading Your Themes

This brings you to the “Themes” screen …

How To Update Your WP Theme

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

WordPress Theme Management: How To Upgrade Themes In WordPress

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

Theme Management: Updating Your WP Theme

WordPress will automatically update the theme …

Upgrading WP Themes In Your Dashboard

Your WordPress theme is now up-to-date …

Theme Management: Updating A Theme In WordPress

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

Updating WordPress Themes From The “Updates” Area

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

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

Theme Management: Upgrading Your WordPress Theme

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

How To Update Themes In WordPress

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

WordPress Theme Management: Upgrading Your WordPress Theme

WordPress will automatically update all of your selected themes …

How To Upgrade Themes In WordPress

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

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"This is an awesome training series. I have a pretty good understanding of WordPress already, but this is helping me to move somewhere from intermediate to advanced user!" - Kim Lednum

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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.