Theme Management: How To Update Your WordPress Theme

Learn How To Use WPIf you are new to WordPress, make sure to read our introduction to WordPress themes. It explains what themes are and how themes can be cost-effective and time-saving for business owners.

This step-by-step tutorial will show you how to update your WP themes in the admin area.

Upgrading Themes – Best Practices

Updating Themes - Best Practices

We recommend going through the checklist below before attempting the upgrade process, to reduce the risk of any problems occurring during the upgrade process.

1. Back Up Your Site

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

If you don’t want to perform manual backups, there are a number of free and paid WordPress plugins you can use. You can read about a WordPress backup plugin that can automate your backup process here: Backup, Clone & Protect Your WP Web Site With Backup Creator WP Plugin

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 which provides an overview of new features, improvements, bug fixes or any other information pertaining to 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 the theme, track any 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’re managing your own website, you can install a test WordPress site on a subdomain or a separate domain using 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 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 offer this for paid themes, and even for some free plugins).

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

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 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 just visit the official WordPress child theme page here: WordPress Codex: Child Themes


As you will see below, the actual process of updating a WordPress theme is fairly easy. The step in the upgrade process that takes the most time and effort to complete is the preparation 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 for ensuring problem-free upgrades. Ultimately, as a website owner, it is your responsibility to protect your digital assets.

How To Upgrade Your WP Theme – Tutorial

Upgrading your WP themes from your dashboard is easy.

Log into your WordPress admin area …

WordPress Theme Management: Updating Your Theme

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

WordPress Theme Management: Upgrading Your Themes

Updating a WordPress theme from the dashboard is quite a simple process. You can update your theme from the “Themes” feature, or the “Updates” feature.

Updating WordPress Themes Using The “Themes” Section

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

Choose Appearance > Themes in your WordPress dashboard menu …

Updating A Theme In WordPress

This opens up the “Themes” page …

Theme Management: How To Update Your Theme

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

How To Update Your Theme

Locate the theme that needs to be updated and click on the “Update Available” notice.

When the theme details window opens up, click on update now

Updating Your Themes

WordPress automatically updates the theme in seconds …

How To Update Your Themes

Your theme is now up-to-date …

WordPress Theme Management: Upgrading Your Theme

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

Updating Your Themes From The “Updates” Page

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

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

Theme Management: Upgrading Themes In WordPress

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

Updating WP Themes From Your Dashboard

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

Updating Your Theme

WordPress automatically updates all of the selected themes …

Upgrading Themes In WordPress

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

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