How To Update WordPress Themes

Learn how to easily update WordPress themes inside your dashboard …

Upgrading A Theme In WordPressIf 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 significant time and money.

This tutorial will show you how to easily upgrade a theme inside your admin area.

Updating WP Themes – Best Practices Checklist

Updating Your WordPress Theme - Best Practices Checklist

We recommend going through the “best practices” checklist below before attempting the upgrade process.

1. Back Up Your Files

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 things back to their previous state.

If you don’t want to perform manual backups, there are many WordPress plugins you can use. You can read about a WordPress backup plugin that can automate your site backups 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 a changelog file accompanying an update which provides an overview of new features, improvements, security fixes or important changes in the new theme 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.


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 all plugins are working fine with the new theme before installing it on 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 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 search online to see if anyone has reported any issues 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 WordPress 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, 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 customizations get preserved through the “child theme.”

If you plan to customize your theme files, then we recommend becoming familiar with the use of 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 very easy. What can feel slightly bothersome is the preparation involved prior to upgrading.

Many 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 to help you avoid problems. Ultimately, as a website owner, it is solely your responsibility to protect your online properties.

Updating Your WordPress Themes – Tutorial

Updating your themes in your dashboard is simple.

Log into your WordPress administration area …

Theme Management: How To Upgrade Your Theme

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

Updating Your Themes

Updating themes from the dashboard is a very simple process. You can update your themes from the “Themes” feature, or the “Updates” feature.

Updating WordPress Themes From The “Themes” Page

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

Choose Appearance > Themes from your WordPress dashboard menu …

Upgrading Themes In WordPress

This opens up the “Themes” page …

How To Update WordPress Theme From The WP Dashboard

Themes that need updating display an “Update Available” message over their thumbnail image …

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

WordPress Theme Management: How To Update Themes In WordPress

WordPress will automatically update the theme …

WordPress Theme Management: Updating WordPress Theme In Your Admin Dashboard

Your theme is now updated …

How To Upgrade Your Theme

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

Updating Your Themes From The “Updates” Area

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

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

Theme Management: Upgrading Your WP Themes

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

Upgrading WP Themes In The WP Dashboard

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

Upgrading WordPress Theme From The WP Dashboard

WordPress will automatically update all of the selected themes …

WordPress Theme Management: Updating Themes In WordPress

Congratulations! Now you know how to upgrade your WordPress themes in the WP dashboard.

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Originally published as How To Update WordPress Themes.