How To Update WordPress Themes

Learn how to easily update WordPress themes inside your dashboard …

How To Update WordPress Themes From Your Admin DashboardIf you are new to WordPress, make sure you read our introduction to WordPress themes. It explains what themes are and how using a theme can save online business owners significant time and money.

This step-by-step tutorial will show you how to update your theme with just a few clicks inside the dashboard.

Upgrading Themes – Best Practices Checklist

Updating Themes - Best Practices Checklist

Before updating your themes, we recommend going through the handy checklist below to make sure that your upgrades go smoothly.

1. Make A Complete Backup

Backing up your files and data before making any changes to your site is essential. If something goes wrong, you can always restore.

If you don’t want to perform manual backups, there are many free and paid plugins you can use. Learn 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 new features, improvements, bug fixes or any other information pertaining to the new version.

If the theme 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.

Useful Tip

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 if all plugins are working fine with the new theme before installing 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 play with the new theme versions on your test site before applying it to your main site.

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

If you have made extensive customizations to your existing WordPress 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 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 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 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 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 themes regularly, while others upgrade without going through 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, it is the website owner’s responsibility to protect their online assets.

Upgrading Themes In WordPress – Tutorial

Updating your theme from your admin dashboard is simple.

Log into your WordPress administration area …

Updating WordPress Theme In The WP Dashboard

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

Theme Management: How To Upgrade A Theme In WordPress

Updating a theme in the WP dashboard is very simple and easy. You can update your site’s theme via the “Themes” section, or the “Updates” area.

Updating WordPress Themes Using The “Themes” Section

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

Choose Appearance > Themes from your WP dashboard menu …

WordPress Theme Management: How To Upgrade Your Theme

This brings you to the “Themes” screen …

Upgrading Your Theme

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

WordPress Theme Management: How To Update Your Themes

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 A Theme In WordPress

WordPress automatically updates the theme …

Updating Your Theme

Your theme is now updated …

WordPress Theme Management: Upgrading Your WP Themes

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

Updating Your Site’s Theme Via The “Updates” Area

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

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

WordPress Theme Management: How To Update Your WP Theme

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

Updating WP Themes From Your Admin Dashboard

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

Upgrading WordPress Theme In Your Dashboard

WordPress automatically updates all of the selected themes …

How To Upgrade Your Themes

Congratulations! Now you know how to update your themes from 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.