How To Update WordPress Themes

Learn how to easily update WordPress themes inside your dashboard …

Theme Management: How To Upgrade Your WP ThemeIf you are new to WordPress, make sure to read our introduction to WordPress themes. We’ve written a detailed article that explains what themes are and how using themes can save business website owners time and money.

In this step-by-step tutorial, you will learn how to update your theme inside the dashboard.

Updating A WordPress Theme – Best Practices Checklist

Upgrading WP Themes - Best Practices

Before updating any WordPress themes, we recommend going through the handy checklist below to make sure that your update goes smoothly.

1. Make A Backup

Backing up your site before making any changes to your site is vital. This way, if something goes wrong, you can always restore.

If you don’t want to perform manual backups, there are many 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

When WordPress upgrades its software to a new version, this 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 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.

Practical Tip

Typically, web service providers will set up a test site where they can test the latest version of a theme, track bugs and check if all plugins are working fine with the new theme before applying 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 with 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 and see if other theme users have reported any serious problems with the new theme version.

You can enter 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. Use Child Themes For Heavily Customized WordPress Themes

If you have made extensive changes to your existing WordPress theme files, upgrading 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 that parent theme. When you update the “parent theme”, all customizations are 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 plan to 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:

Practical Tip

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! What can feel slightly bothersome is the precautionary work 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 recommended “best practice” methods to help you avoid problems. Ultimately, as a website owner, it is solely your responsibility to protect your online assets.

Upgrading WP Theme In Your Admin Dashboard – Step-By-Step Tutorial

Updating your WordPress theme in your admin dashboard is simple.

Log into your WordPress administration area …

WordPress Theme Management: Updating WordPress Themes From Your Dashboard

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

Theme Management: Upgrading Your Theme

Updating a WordPress theme from your WP dashboard is a very simple process. You can update your theme from the “Themes” section, or the “Updates” screen.

Updating Your Site’s Theme Via The “Themes” Screen

You can see which themes need to be updated by going to your Themes page.

Choose Appearance > Themes in your WordPress admin menu …

WordPress Theme Management: Upgrading Themes In WordPress

This opens up the “Themes” page …

Theme Management: Updating A Theme In WordPress

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

Upgrading 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

Updating Your WP Theme

WordPress will automatically update the theme in seconds …

WordPress Theme Management: Updating Themes In WordPress

Your theme is now updated …

Upgrading Your WordPress Theme

Repeat the process described above to update all of your out-of-date themes, or use the method described below to upgrade multiple themes.

Updating WordPress Themes Using The “Updates” Area

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

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

Upgrading Your Theme

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

WordPress Theme Management: Upgrading Your Themes

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

WordPress Theme Management: How To Upgrade Your Theme

WordPress automatically updates all of the selected themes …

WordPress Theme Management: Updating Your Themes

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


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Originally published as How To Update WordPress Themes.