How To Update WordPress Themes

Learn how to easily update WordPress themes inside your dashboard …

Updating Your ThemesIf you are new to WordPress, make sure to read our introduction to WordPress themes. It explains what WordPress themes are and how using a theme can save online business owners time and money.

This tutorial will show you how to easily upgrade your WordPress themes with just a few clicks inside the admin area.

Updating Themes – Best Practices

Updating A WordPress Theme - Best Practices Checklist

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

1. Make A Complete Backup

Backing up your files and data before making any updates to your site is vital. Whenever something doesn’t go as planned, you can always restore things back to their former configuration.

If you don’t want to perform manual backups, there are a number of free and paid WordPress plugins you can use. You can read about a WordPress backup plugin that can 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 have installed, there may be a changelog file accompanying an update which provides an overview of any new features, improvements, security 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 upgrade.

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 a theme, track bugs and check to see if the new theme version doesn’t conflict with any existing plugins or settings before installing and activating 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 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 site.

4. Search Online

Before updating your theme, it’s a good idea to 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 offer this for premium WordPress 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 WordPress 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 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 plan on using 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:


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 of the upgrading process that takes the most time and effort to complete is the precautionary work involved prior to upgrading.

Some people don’t upgrade their themes regularly, while others 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, as a website owner, it is solely your responsibility to protect your online properties.

How To Upgrade WP Themes In Your Dashboard – Step-By-Step Tutorial

Updating your WP themes in the WP dashboard is simple.

Log into your WordPress administration area …

Updating WP Theme From Your Admin Dashboard

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

WordPress Theme Management: Updating A Theme In WordPress

Updating a WordPress theme in the WP dashboard is quite simple and easy. You can update your WordPress themes from the “Themes” feature, or the “Updates” section.

Updating WordPress Themes Via The “Themes” Page

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

Choose Appearance > Themes from your WordPress dashboard menu …

WordPress Theme Management: Updating Your Themes

This brings you to the “Themes” screen …

How To Update Your Theme

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

WordPress Theme Management: How To Update Themes In WordPress

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

Theme Management: Upgrading A Theme In WordPress

WordPress will automatically update the theme …

Updating WP Themes From Your Dashboard

Your theme is now up-to-date …

Theme Management: How To Update Your WordPress Theme

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

Updating Your Themes Using The “Updates” Section

Update your WordPress theme using the “Updates” screen as shown below:

To view all themes on your website that require updating, click on Dashboard > Updates

Theme Management: Updating Your Themes

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

Upgrading WP Theme From Your Dashboard

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

WordPress Theme Management: How To Update WP Theme From Your Dashboard

WordPress automatically updates all of the selected themes …

Updating Your Theme

Congratulations! Now you know how to upgrade your theme in your admin dashboard.


"If you're new to WordPress, this can stand on its own as a training course and will stay with you as you progress from beginner to advanced and even guru status." - Bruce (Columbus, Ohio)

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Author: Martin Aranovitch

Martin Aranovitch is the owner of and the author of The WordPress User Manual. 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.