WordPress theme developers will release theme updates for many reasons. For instance, updates include bug fixes, staying current with WordPress or external plugins like WooCommerce, and adding new features. If you are trying to update a ThemeForest WordPress theme or update a Creative Market WordPress theme, this blog post will show you how to update WordPress themes to the latest version.
Important: Before you Update WordPress Themes
Updating to the latest version of the theme is always recommended. Good theme developers will ensure there are no changes to your existing website when completing an update. However, there are a couple of best practices to note before updating WordPress themes:
1. Changes in Theme Files
If you’ve modified any of the theme files yourself, you’ll need to note these changes prior to updating. No matter what theme you are using, the update will override the previous version of the theme files with the new files. All custom code changes made directly to the theme files will be lost in an update. You will need to re-implement them once you’ve installed the latest version of the theme.
** Any custom CSS added to the WordPress Customizer (Additional CSS box) will remain the same after a theme update. You do not need to worry about losing this custom CSS in an update.
2. What about the child theme?
If you are using a child theme, updating the parent theme will not change any of the code or settings of the child theme. Therefore, it’s best practice to implement all theme file changes using a child theme.
3. Backup Your Database
By default, WordPress should save all content to your database. This is why your content appears within your WordPress Dashboard and on the front-end of your website no matter what theme you are using. However, it’s always a good idea to create a database backup before you update WordPress themes, just in case.
How to: Update WordPress themes
Follow the steps below to easily update a Creative Market WordPress or update a ThemeForest WordPress theme:
1. Activate the Upgrade plugin
The easiest way we have found to update WordPress themes is to use the free Easy Theme and Plugin Upgrades plugin. If you do not have this plugin, from your WordPress Dashboard, navigate to Plugins > Add New. Search the WordPress Directory for the plugin, and install and activate the plugin on your website.
2. Download the latest theme files
After receiving the email notification for a theme update, use the link provided to navigate to the theme marketplace and download the latest version of the theme files. For example, if you purchased the Emily Grace theme from Creative Market, download the full theme package just like you did when you originally purchased the theme.
After downloading the full theme package, find the theme zip file for installation. If you are updating the Emily Grace theme, for example, navigate to the “emily-grace-theme” folder and find the “emily-grace.zip” file.
3. Update WordPress themes
From the WordPress Dashboard, navigate to the Appearance > Themes page. Select Add New at the top of the page. Select Upload Theme at the top of the page. Press the Browse button and select the theme file from your computer. For example, if you are updating the Emily Grace theme, upload the “emily-grace.zip” file to WordPress. Press the Install Now button to upload and install the theme.
** Remember! It’s important to install the theme’s ZIP file, and not the entire theme package you download from Creative Market or ThemeForest. Otherwise you will receive a “missing ‘style.css’ file” error message.
After the plugin successfully installs the theme, make sure to click the blue “Activate” link to make the latest version of the theme active on your site.
4. Update related theme plugins, as needed
Depending on the theme and the nature of the the update, there may be updates to the bundled plugins that need to be completed at the same time as the theme update.
For all Pix & Hue themes — after you activate the updated theme — if there are any plugin updates required, you will see a notification banner appear at the top of the screen. Follow the instructions to update all theme plugins, as needed.
And now, you are all set! After activating the updated theme and any related plugins, you are now using the latest version of the theme.