How To Update WordPress Themes

Learn how to easily update WordPress themes inside your dashboard …

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

In this step-by-step tutorial, you will learn how to update themes with just a few clicks inside your dashboard.

Upgrading Your WordPress Theme – Best Practices Checklist

Updating WordPress Themes - Best Practices

We recommend going through the “best practices” checklist below before going through the upgrade process, to reduce the risk of any problems occurring as a result of the update process.

1. Back Up Your Website

Backing up your files and data before making any updates to your site is essential. 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 site backups 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 some release notes accompanying an update which provides an overview of any new features, improvements, security fixes or any other information pertaining to the new theme version.

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

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 bugs and check if the new theme version doesn’t conflict with any existing plugins or settings 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 using 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 other theme users have 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 provide forums for paid themes, and even for some free plugins).

5. Is Your Theme Heavily Customized? Use A Child Theme

If you have made extensive customizations 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 the parent theme. When you update the “parent theme”, all modifications are 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 visit the official WordPress child theme page here:

Useful Tip

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

Some 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 recommended “best practice” methods to help you avoid problems. Ultimately, it is your responsibility as a website owner to protect your digital properties.

How To Update Your WP Themes – Tutorial

Updating your theme from the WP dashboard is simple.

Log into your WordPress admin area …

Upgrading Your Themes

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

Theme Management: How To Upgrade A Theme In WordPress

Updating themes in your dashboard is quite simple and easy. You can update your site’s theme from the “Themes” page, or the “Updates” section.

Updating WordPress Themes From The “Themes” Page

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

Choose Appearance > Themes from your WordPress admin menu …

How To Update Your Theme

This opens up the “Themes” screen …

Theme Management: Upgrading A Theme In WordPress

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

How To Upgrade WordPress Themes From Your Admin Dashboard

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

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

How To Update Your Theme

WordPress automatically updates your theme …

WordPress Theme Management: How To Upgrade Themes In WordPress

Your theme is now up-to-date …

Upgrading Themes In WordPress

Repeat the above 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” Area

Update your WordPress theme from the “Updates” page as follows:

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

Updating A Theme In WordPress

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

WordPress Theme Management: Updating Your Themes

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

WordPress Theme Management: Updating WordPress Theme In Your Admin Dashboard

WordPress will automatically update all of the selected themes …

Theme Management: Updating Themes In WordPress

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


"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

Originally published as How To Update WordPress Themes.