Updating WordPress Theme Files

How do you update a site's theme files which has a child theme active? And can you do it entirely from the front end?

Solutions

For themes installed from official repository WordPress will have much of the process automated, offering update and handling the process.

For third party themes it's a manual process (unless they implement similar update functionality themselves).

You can upload a theme archive via Appearance > Themes > Add new > Upload theme in WordPress admin. If I remember right it won't allow you to replace existing theme though, you might need to delete it first (make sure you have a backup!). This also might reset your active theme if site is accessed during the process.

The more reliable and less disruptive way would be through filesystem, if you have access to upload and manipulate files:

  1. Upload new theme to a themes folder (comonly wp-content/themes) like theme-name-new (for example).
  2. Rename existing theme to theme-name-old.
  3. Immediately rename theme-name-new to theme-name.

Child theme is contained in separate folder, it shouldn't be affected by parent theme update in principle. However it might require being brought up to date with changes in parent theme.

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