How To Update WordPress Themes

Learn how to easily update WordPress themes inside your dashboard.

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Updating Themes In WordPressIf you are new to WordPress, make sure to read our introduction to WordPress themes. It explains what themes are and how they can save online business owners significant time and money.

In this step-by-step tutorial, you will learn how to easily update a theme in the dashboard.

Updating Your WordPress Theme – Best Practices Checklist

Updating Themes - Best Practices

We recommend going through the handy checklist below before going through the upgrade process, to help minimize any problems affecting your site during your updating process.

1. Back Up Your Website

Backing up your website before making any updates to your site is vital. This way, if things don’t go as planned, you can always restore everything to its previous settings.

If you don’t want to perform manual backups, there are a number of free and paid plugins you can use. You can read about a WordPress backup plugin that can automate your backup process here: Back Up, Duplicate And Keep Your WordPress Websites And Blogs Protected With Backup Creator Plugin For WP

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 have installed, there may be a changelog file accompanying an update listing any new features, improvements, bug fixes or important 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 if the new theme version doesn’t conflict with any existing plugins or settings 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 name using the same configuration settings (e.g. plugins) and test new theme versions on your test site before applying it to your live site.

4. Search Online

Before updating your theme, it’s a good idea to search online and 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 offer this for premium themes, and even for some free plugins).

5. Use Child Themes For Heavily Customized WordPress Themes

If you have made extensive changes to your existing 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 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 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: WordPress Child Themes

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 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, it is solely your responsibility as a website owner to protect your digital properties.

How To Upgrade WordPress Themes In Your Admin Dashboard – Tutorial

Updating your WP themes from your dashboard is simple.

Log into your WordPress admin area …

WordPress Theme Management: How To Update Themes In WordPress

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

Theme Management: How To Upgrade Your Theme

Updating a WordPress theme in your WP dashboard is a very simple process. You can update your theme using the “Themes” feature, or the “Updates” section.

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

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

Select Appearance > Themes in your WP admin menu …

WordPress Theme Management: Updating A Theme In WordPress

This opens up the “Themes” page …

How To Upgrade Your WP Themes

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

Updating Themes In WordPress

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

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

How To Update Your Themes

WordPress will automatically update the theme in seconds …

WordPress Theme Management: Upgrading WordPress Theme In Your Dashboard

Your theme is now up-to-date …

Upgrading A Theme In WordPress

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

Updating WordPress Themes From The “Updates” Screen

Update your themes from the “Updates” area as shown below:

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

Upgrading WordPress Theme From The WP Dashboard

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

How To Upgrade Your Themes

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

Theme Management: How To Upgrade Themes In WordPress

WordPress automatically updates all of the selected themes …

Updating Your WP Themes

Congratulations! Now you know how to update your theme in your 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

Disclaimer: We have no direct association with WordPress or any WordPress products reviewed on this site. We may receive a financial benefit from the purchase of third-party products advertised on our website. All images and information sourced from product websites are the copyright of their respective owners, comply with all license terms and agreements of use to the best of our knowledge and are used solely for training or illustrative purposes.

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Author: Martin Aranovitch

Martin Aranovitch is the founder of WPCompendium.org and has authored hundreds of FREE WordPress tutorials for 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!

Originally published as How To Update WordPress Themes.