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How To Update WordPress Themes

If you are new to WordPress, make sure you read our introduction to WordPress themes. It explains what themes are and how using themes can be cost-effective and time-saving for web business owners.

This tutorial will show you how to easily update themes in your dashboard.

Updating Your WordPress Theme – Best Practices

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

1. Back Up Everything

Backing up your website before making any updates to your site is essential. Whenever something doesn’t go as planned, you can always restore.

If you don’t want to perform manual backups, there are many free and paid WordPress plugins you can use. Learn 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 included with an update listing new features, improvements, bug fixes or important changes in the new 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.

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 to see if all plugins are working fine with the new theme before installing 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 with the same plugins and configuration settings 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 to 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 WordPress themes, and even for some free plugins).

5. Is Your Theme Customized? Use A Child Theme

If you have made extensive customizations to your existing 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 the 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 on using 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:

As you will see below, the actual process of updating a WordPress theme is very simple. The part 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 others 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 for ensuring problem-free upgrades. Ultimately, as a website owner, it is your responsibility to protect your digital properties.

Upgrading Your WordPress Themes – Tutorial

Upgrading your themes in the WP dashboard is simple.

Log into your WordPress administration area …

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

Updating WordPress themes in your dashboard is quite simple and easy. You can update your site’s theme via the “Themes” section, or the “Updates” page.

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

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

Choose Appearance > Themes in your WP admin menu …

This brings you to the “Themes” screen …

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

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

WordPress automatically updates the theme in seconds …

Your WordPress theme is now up-to-date …

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

Updating WordPress Themes From The “Updates” Section

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

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

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

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

WordPress automatically updates all of your selected themes …

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

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"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