How To Update WordPress Themes

Learn how to easily update WordPress themes inside your dashboard …

Upgrading Your WP ThemeIf you are new to WordPress, make sure to read our introduction to WordPress themes. We’ve written an in-depth article that explains what WP themes are and how using themes can save business owners time and money.

In this tutorial, you will learn how to update themes to their latest version inside your admin area.

Updating WordPress Themes – Best Practices Checklist

Upgrading Themes - Best Practices Checklist

We recommend going through the checklist below before attempting the upgrade process.

1. Back Up Your Site

Backing up your site before making any updates to your site is essential. This way, if things don’t go as planned, you can always restore.

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 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 included with an update listing new features, improvements, security fixes or any other changes in the new theme version.

If the changes seem irrelevant or unimportant, you can skip the update. Otherwise, you should 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 an installed theme, track bugs and check to see if the new theme version doesn’t conflict with any existing plugins or settings before applying and activating 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 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 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. Use Child Themes For Heavily Customized WordPress Themes

If you have made extensive changes to your existing WordPress theme files, upgrading 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 that 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 visit the WordPress Codex 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! The bit of the update process that takes the most time and effort to complete is the precautionary work involved prior to upgrading.

Some 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, as a website owner, it is solely your responsibility to protect your digital properties.

How To Upgrade WP Theme In The WP Dashboard – Step-By-Step Tutorial

Updating your WP themes in the WP dashboard is easy.

Log into your WordPress admin area …

WordPress Theme Management: Upgrading WP Themes In Your Dashboard

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

Upgrading A Theme In WordPress

Updating a theme from your WP dashboard is simple and easy. You can update your WordPress themes from the “Themes” area, or the “Updates” page.

Updating Your Site’s Theme Using The “Themes” Section

To see which themes require updating, go to your Themes page.

Choose Appearance > Themes in your WordPress admin menu …

Theme Management: Upgrading Your Themes

This brings you to the “Themes” screen …

WordPress Theme Management: How To Upgrade Your WordPress Themes

WordPress Themes with new versions display an “Update Available” message over their thumbnail image …

Updating Your Themes

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 the theme …

How To Update Your WordPress Themes

Your WordPress theme is now up-to-date …

How To Upgrade WordPress Theme From The WP Dashboard

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

Updating WordPress Themes Using The “Updates” Section

Update your themes using the “Updates” page as shown below:

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

WordPress Theme Management: Upgrading Themes In WordPress

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

Updating Your Themes

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

Theme Management: Upgrading Your WordPress Theme

WordPress will automatically update all of the selected themes …

Updating Your Themes

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


"This is AMAZING! I had learnt about how to use WordPress previously, but this covers absolutely everything and more!! Incredible value! Thank you!" - Monique, Warrior Forum

Originally published as How To Update WordPress Themes.