How To Update WordPress Themes

Learn how to easily update WordPress themes inside your dashboard.

WordPress Theme Management: Updating Your ThemeIf you are new to WordPress, make sure you read our overview of WordPress themes. It explains what 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 update a theme to its latest version inside your admin area.

Upgrading WP Themes – Best Practices

Updating A WordPress Theme - Best Practices Checklist

Before updating any themes, we recommend going through the checklist below to ensure that your upgrades go smoothly.

1. Back Up Everything

Backing up your files and data before making any updates to your site is essential. 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 WordPress plugins you can use. You can read about a WordPress backup plugin that can 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 some release notes included with an update which provides an overview of 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 Your Theme

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

Practical 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 make sure that 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 with the same plugins and configuration settings and play with the 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 anyone has reported any serious problems 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 WordPress Theme Heavily Customized? Use A Child Theme

If you have made extensive changes to your existing WordPress 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”, your modifications are 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:

Tip

As you will see below, the actual process of updating a WordPress theme is very easy. The bit that takes the most time and effort to complete is the precautionary work involved prior to upgrading.

Some people don’t upgrade their WordPress 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 Update A Theme In WordPress – Tutorial

Updating your WordPress themes from your admin dashboard is simple.

Log into your WordPress administration area …

Upgrading Your Themes

Depending on what theme(s) you have installed on your site, you may receive an occasional alert in your dashboard that new theme versions are available and require updating …

How To Update WordPress Themes From Your Dashboard

Updating WordPress themes from the dashboard is a very simple process. You can update your site’s theme via the “Themes” page, or the “Updates” section.

Updating Your Site Themes Using The “Themes” Area

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

Choose Appearance > Themes from your WordPress admin menu …

How To Upgrade A Theme In WordPress

This brings you to the “Themes” screen …

WordPress Theme Management: Updating WP Theme From The WP Dashboard

Themes with new versions display an “Update Available” message over the theme’s thumbnail image …

WordPress Theme Management: Upgrading 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

How To Update Themes In WordPress

WordPress automatically updates the theme in seconds …

Theme Management: How To Upgrade Your Themes

Your WordPress theme is now updated …

Updating Themes 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 Your Theme Via The “Updates” Page

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

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

Upgrading Themes In WordPress

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

How To Update WP Theme From Your Admin Dashboard

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

WordPress Theme Management: Updating WordPress Themes In Your Admin Dashboard

WordPress will automatically update all of the selected themes …

Upgrading Your Themes

Congratulations! Now you know how to update your theme from your 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.