How To Update WordPress Themes

Learn how to easily update WordPress themes inside your dashboard …

Theme Management: Upgrading Your WP ThemesIf you are new to WordPress, make sure to read our overview of WordPress themes. We’ve written an in-depth article that explains what themes are and how they can be cost-effective and time-saving for business owners.

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

Updating WP Themes – Best Practices

Updating Your WordPress Theme - Best Practices

Before updating any WordPress themes, we recommend going through the “best practices” checklist below to prevent any problems occuring during the process.

1. Back Up Everything

Backing up your website before making any updates to your site is vital. Whenever something doesn’t go as planned, you can always restore everything to its 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 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, bug fixes or important changes in the new theme version.

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

3. Test The Theme

If you can, it’s a good idea to check the theme before installing it on your site.

Useful Tip

Typically, web service providers will set up a test site where they can test the latest version of the theme, track bugs and verify that the new theme version doesn’t conflict with any existing plugins or settings before applying and activating it on a live site.

If you’re managing your own website, you can set up a test WordPress site on a subdomain or a separate domain using the same plugins and configuration settings and test 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 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 Theme Customized? Use A Child Theme

If you have made extensive changes 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 customizations 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 to 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 simple. What can feel slightly bothersome is the preparation involved prior to upgrading.

Some 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 your responsibility to protect your online properties.

How To Upgrade Themes In WordPress – Step-By-Step Tutorial

Updating your WP themes from your dashboard is easy.

Log into your WordPress administration area …

How To Update Your Theme

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

Theme Management: How To Update Themes In WordPress

Updating a theme in the dashboard is a very simple process. You can update your themes using the “Themes” page, or the “Updates” section.

Updating WordPress Themes Via The “Themes” Page

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

Select Appearance > Themes from your WP admin menu …

Theme Management: Upgrading Themes In WordPress

This brings you to the “Themes” page …

Upgrading WordPress Theme In Your Dashboard

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

Updating A Theme 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

Upgrading WordPress Theme From Your Dashboard

WordPress will automatically update your theme …

WordPress Theme Management: Upgrading WP Theme In Your Admin Dashboard

Your theme is now up-to-date …

Theme Management: Upgrading WordPress Themes From Your Admin Dashboard

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

Updating Your Themes Using The “Updates” Area

Update your themes via the “Updates” section as shown below:

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

WordPress Theme Management: How To Update A Theme In WordPress

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

Theme Management: How To Upgrade WordPress Themes In The WP Dashboard

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

Theme Management: How To Upgrade Themes In WordPress

WordPress will automatically update all of the selected themes …

Updating Your Theme

Congratulations! Now you know how to update your WP theme from your dashboard.


"These tutorials have so much information and are easy to understand. If you use WordPress or plan to in the future these will help you with everything you need to know." - Valisa (Mesa, Arizona)

Originally published as How To Update WordPress Themes.