How To Update WordPress Themes

Learn how to easily update WordPress themes inside your dashboard.

Theme Management: Upgrading A Theme In WordPressIf you are new to WordPress, make sure you read our introduction to WordPress themes. We’ve written a detailed article that explains what WP themes are and how using a theme can be cost-effective and time-saving for website owners.

This step-by-step tutorial will show you how to easily upgrade themes to the latest version inside your admin area.

Updating A WordPress Theme – Best Practices

Upgrading WP Themes - Best Practices

Before updating any themes, we recommend going through the “best practices” checklist below.

1. Back Up Your Website Fully

Backing up your website before making any changes to your site is vital. Whenever something doesn’t go as planned, you can always restore your web site or blog to its former state.

If you don’t want to perform manual backups, there are many plugins you can use. Learn about a WordPress backup plugin that can fully automate your site backups here: Back Up, Clone And Keep Your WordPress Sites Protected With Backup Creator Plugin For WP

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 some release notes included with an update which provides an overview of any new features, improvements, security 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 Your 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 if the new theme version doesn’t conflict with any existing plugins or settings before applying it to 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 with the same configuration settings (e.g. plugins) and test 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 search online to see if anyone has 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 offer this for premium WordPress themes, and even for some free plugins).

5. Is Your WordPress 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 modifications get 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 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: WordPress Codex: Child Themes

Practical Tip

As you will see below, the actual process of updating a WordPress theme is simple. The bit of the updating process that takes the most time and effort to complete is the precautionary work 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 recommended “best practice” methods to help you avoid problems. Ultimately, as a website owner, it is your responsibility to protect your digital properties.

Upgrading WordPress Themes In Your Admin Dashboard – Tutorial

Upgrading your WP theme in your admin dashboard is easy.

Log into your WordPress admin area …

Upgrading Your Theme

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

Updating WP Theme In The WP Dashboard

Updating WordPress themes in the WP dashboard is quite simple and easy. You can update your themes via the “Themes” area, or the “Updates” screen.

Updating Your Site Themes Via The “Themes” Screen

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

Select Appearance > Themes in your WordPress admin menu …

How To Update Your Theme

This brings you to the “Themes” screen …

Updating Your Theme

WordPress Themes with new versions display an “Update Available” message over the theme’s thumbnail image …

Updating Your WordPress 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

Updating Your WP Theme

WordPress automatically updates your theme …

How To Update Your WordPress Theme

Your WordPress theme is now up-to-date …

Upgrading Themes In WordPress

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

Updating WordPress Themes From The “Updates” Section

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

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

How To Update Your Theme

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

Updating A Theme In WordPress

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

Updating Your Themes

WordPress will automatically update all of the selected themes …

Upgrading Themes In WordPress

Congratulations! Now you know how to upgrade your theme in the WP dashboard.


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Author: Martin Aranovitch

Martin Aranovitch is the founder of and has authored hundreds of FREE WordPress tutorials for beginners. provides detailed step-by-step tutorials that will teach you how to use WordPress with no coding skills required and at minimal cost!

Originally published as How To Update WordPress Themes.