If you are new to WordPress, make sure to read our overview of WordPress themes. The comprehensive article explains what WP 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 easily upgrade your theme in the dashboard.
Updating Themes – Best Practices
We recommend going through the checklist below before going through the upgrade process, to reduce any problems occurring during the upgrade.
1. Back Up Everything
Backing up your files and data before making any changes to your site is vital. Whenever something doesn’t go as planned, you can always restore everything to its previous configuration.
If you don’t want to perform manual backups, there are a number of WordPress plugins you can use. Learn about a WordPress backup plugin that can automate your backup process here:
2. Check The Theme Update Notes
Changes made to the WordPress software can affect the functionality of certain themes. Depending on the theme you are using, there may be some release notes included with an update listing any new features, improvements, security fixes or important information pertaining to the new theme version.
If the changes seem irrelevant or unimportant, you can skip the update. Otherwise, it’s best to 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 a theme, track any bugs and check to see if the new theme version doesn’t conflict with any existing plugins or settings before installing it on a live site.
If you manage your own website, you can install a test WordPress site on a subdomain or a separate domain with the same plugins and configuration settings and test 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 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 paid WordPress 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 WordPress theme files, updating 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 the parent theme. When you update the “parent theme”, your modifications get 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 just visit the official WordPress child theme page here:
As you will see below, the actual process of updating a WordPress theme is simple. The bit of this 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 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, as a website owner, it is your responsibility to protect your online properties.
Updating Your WordPress Themes – Step-By-Step Tutorial
Upgrading your WordPress themes in your dashboard is simple.
Log into your WordPress administration area …
Depending on what theme(s) you have installed on your site, you may receive occasional notifications in your WordPress Dashboard that your theme(s) need updating …
Updating a WordPress theme in the WP dashboard is easy. You can update your WordPress themes from the “Themes” section, or the “Updates” page.
Updating Your Site Themes Using The “Themes” Page
You can see which themes require updating by going to your Themes page.
Choose Appearance > Themes in your WP dashboard menu …
This opens up the “Themes” page …
WordPress Themes that need updating display an “Update Available” message over their thumbnail image …
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 will automatically update the theme in seconds …
Your WordPress theme is now up-to-date …
Repeat the above to update all of your outdated themes, or use the method described below to upgrade multiple themes at once.
Updating WordPress Themes Using The “Updates” Area
Update your theme via the “Updates” section as follows:
To view all themes installed on your site that require updating, click on Dashboard > Updates …
This opens up the Updates screen. Scroll down to the Themes section …
Check the box next to all the themes you want to update and click on Update Themes to complete the bulk update process …
WordPress will automatically update all of the selected themes …
Congratulations! Now you know how to upgrade your WP theme in your dashboard.
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