How To Update WordPress Themes

Learn how to easily update WordPress themes inside your dashboard …

How To Update Your WordPress ThemeIf you are new to WordPress, make sure to read our introduction to WordPress themes. We’ve written a comprehensive article that explains what themes are and how using themes can save web business owners time and money.

This tutorial will show you how to update themes in your admin area.

Updating A WordPress Theme – Best Practices

Upgrading Your WordPress Theme - Best Practices

Before updating your WordPress themes, we recommend going through the “best practices” checklist below.

1. Make A Backup

Backing up your website before making any changes to your site is vital. If something goes wrong, you can always restore things back to their previous configuration.

If you don’t want to perform manual backups, there are a number of WordPress plugins you can use. You can read about a WordPress backup plugin that can automate your backup process here:

2. Check The Changelog

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 which provides an overview of any new features, improvements, security fixes or any other information pertaining to the new version.

If the changes seem irrelevant or unimportant, you can skip the update. Otherwise, it’s best to update.

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 an installed theme, track any 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 manage your own website, you can set up 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 live website.

4. Search Online

Before updating your theme, it’s a good idea to do a quick search online and see if other theme users have 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 themes, and even for some free plugins).

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

If you have made extensive customizations to your existing 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 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 WordPress Codex child theme page here:

Useful Tip

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

Many people don’t upgrade their WordPress 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, it is solely your responsibility as a website owner to protect your digital assets.

Updating Your WordPress Themes – Tutorial

Updating your WordPress themes from your dashboard is simple.

Log into your WordPress administration area …

Theme Management: Updating A Theme In WordPress

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

How To Upgrade Themes In WordPress

Updating a WordPress theme in your dashboard is simple and easy. You can update your site’s theme from the “Themes” screen, or the “Updates” area.

Updating WordPress Themes Using The “Themes” Area

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

Choose Appearance > Themes in your WP dashboard menu …

WordPress Theme Management: How To Update A Theme In WordPress

This opens up the “Themes” screen …

WordPress Theme Management: Upgrading WordPress Theme In Your Dashboard

WordPress Themes that need updating display an “Update Available” message over the theme’s thumbnail image …

How To Upgrade Your Theme

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

Upgrading A Theme In WordPress

WordPress will automatically update your theme …

Upgrading A Theme In WordPress

Your WordPress theme is now updated …

Updating Your WP Theme

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

Updating Your Themes Via The “Updates” Screen

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

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

Upgrading A Theme In WordPress

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

Upgrading A Theme In WordPress

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

Theme Management: How To Update Your Theme

WordPress will automatically update all of the selected themes …

Theme Management: How To Upgrade Themes In WordPress

Congratulations! Now you know how to update your WP themes in your dashboard.


"I have used the tutorials to teach all of my clients and it has probably never been so easy for everyone to learn WordPress ... Now I don't need to buy all these very expensive video courses that often don't deliver what they promise." - Stefan Wendt, Internet Marketing Success Group

Originally published as How To Update WordPress Themes.