How To Update WordPress Themes

Learn how to easily update WordPress themes inside your dashboard …

How To Upgrade A Theme In WordPressIf you are new to WordPress, make sure to read our introduction to WordPress themes. It explains what WP themes are and how using a theme can be cost-effective and time-saving for small business owners.

In this tutorial, you will learn how to update your theme with just a few clicks inside the admin area.

Updating WordPress Themes – Best Practices Checklist

Updating A WordPress Theme - Best Practices Checklist

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

1. Back Up Your Website

Backing up your website before making any changes 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. Learn 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 new features, improvements, bug fixes or any other changes in the new theme version.

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

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 a theme, track any bugs and verify 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 name 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 search online to 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. Is Your WordPress Theme Customized? Use A Child Theme

If you have made extensive changes to your existing WordPress theme files, upgrading 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 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 official WordPress child theme page here:

Practical Tip

As you will see below, the actual process of updating a WordPress theme is very simple. The step 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 online assets.

Upgrading Your Theme – Step-By-Step Tutorial

Upgrading your WordPress theme in the WP dashboard is easy.

Log into your WordPress admin area …

Upgrading WP Themes From The WP Dashboard

Depending on the theme(s) you have installed on your website, you may receive an occasional alert in your WP Dashboard that new theme versions are available and require updating …

Theme Management: Updating Your Theme

Updating themes in the WP dashboard is quite a simple process. You can update your site’s theme using the “Themes” section, or the “Updates” feature.

Updating Your Themes From The “Themes” Page

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

Choose Appearance > Themes from your WordPress admin menu …

Theme Management: Updating A Theme In WordPress

This brings you to the “Themes” screen …

Theme Management: Updating WP Themes In The WP Dashboard

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

How To Update Themes In WordPress

Locate the theme you want to update and click on the “Update Available” notice.

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

WordPress Theme Management: Upgrading WordPress Theme In Your Dashboard

WordPress automatically updates the theme …

WordPress Theme Management: Updating Your Themes

Your theme is now updated …

Theme Management: Upgrading Your Themes

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

Updating WordPress Themes Via The “Updates” Screen

Update your theme via the “Updates” area as shown below:

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

Updating Your Theme

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

WordPress Theme Management: How To Update A Theme In WordPress

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

Upgrading WP Themes From Your Admin Dashboard

WordPress automatically updates all of the selected themes …

Updating Your Themes

Congratulations! Now you know how to upgrade your WordPress theme from your admin 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.