How to Manually Update a Theme or Plugin

Most themes and plugins on your site probably update automatically.

By “automatic update”, I mean that you receive a notification in your dashboard, and a link you can click to automatically update the theme/plugin.

Sometimes this is not an option. For instance, if you have a premium theme/plugin that doesn’t have automatic updates, or if the automatic update is not functioning properly. In this case, you need to update manually.

There are three ways you can easily update a theme or plugin manually.

1. The Easy Theme and Plugin Upgrades plugin

As the name suggests, manually updating with the Easy Theme and Plugin Upgrades plugin is, well, easy.

screenshot of the Easy Theme and Plugin Upgrades on

To use it, first install and activate the plugin. You won’t notice any difference in your dashboard since it works completely behind the scenes.

Once activated, you can update any theme/plugin by simply uploading a zip file. When you visit the page where you would normally add new themes, for instance, you’ll see an option to update an existing theme instead.

screenshot of easy updates plugin being used

Select this option and upload the zip file for the theme.

The Easy Theme and Plugin Upgrades plugin will create a backup of the old version and automatically replace it with the new version.

Normally, you would have to first delete the theme/plugin. Otherwise, you would receive an error message telling you it is already installed.

2. Manually through your dashboard

While the plugin used in the previous method is the easiest way, you can still update a theme or plugin manually through your dashboard without it.

The first step is to deactivate the plugin, or switch to another theme. Then delete the theme/plugin. Once the theme/plugin is deleted, upload the zip file of the new version as you normally would.

Deleting your theme or a plugin might seem a bit frightening. However, you won’t lose any of your settings or data through this process.

When you update a theme/plugin, all of the old files are essentially deleted when they are replaced with the new files. Deleting and then uploading a new version is basically the same process, but carried out in more steps.

3. Update via FTP

This last method is just as good as any.

The first step is to connect to your site via FTP. You can use any FTP client you like for this (I prefer FileZilla).

If you’re updating a theme, navigate to the following location on your server: wordpress/wp-content/themes/

If you’re updating a plugin, navigate to the following location on your server: wordpress/wp-content/plugins/

Once you’re in the right directory, you can upload the theme/plugin folder. It will replace the existing folder on your server. In other words, the old version will be replaced with the new version effectively updating the product.

You can login to your dashboard after to verify.


While automatic updates are unarguably easier, manual updates don’t need to be challenging either.

Regardless of your resources and circumstances, one of the above methods should work wonderfully for your site.

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