Updating to the latest version without the Pro features of the Theme Updater is a manual process. This approach involves three main steps:
- Retrieving the new theme version
- Transferring content from the previous version
- Publishing the new version
Get the Latest Theme Version
Obtain the latest theme version with the Free plan features of the Theme Updater or through the Shopify Theme Store.
Both options are free.
Flex, Turbo, and Superstore are limited to the Theme Updater option
Retrieve the latest version from the Shopify Theme Store listing page for your theme. Click Add latest version to add the theme version to your admin.
Use the Theme Updater to install the most recent version of your registered theme. This feature is available for both plans (Pro and Free). You do not need to be on a subscription plan in order to obtain a fresh download of your theme, but the theme must be registered.
Install Theme Updater.
Register your theme with Theme Updater.
In the Theme Updater, click Actions beside your theme to select Install default theme.
Type in a new theme name, then click Install.
This version will contain only the default configuration with no customizations. It will be installed as a new, unpublished theme in your shop.
Note: If you happen to still have your original order confirmation email containing the download link, you can also use that to download a default theme file.
Transfer Content to the Latest Version
The new version is in its default state. Before publishing the theme, content must be transferred to the new theme to match the previous settings, appearance, customizations, etc.
Update theme settings
Open the theme editor for both versions of the theme in separate windows (to do this, right-click the Customize link next to each theme, then select Open in new tab).
By placing them side-by-side in separate windows, you can go section by section and match the settings, copy, and content.
To match Colors settings, for instance, click on the swatch. In the bottom right of the popup modal, you'll see a six-value code. Copy this code and paste it into the matching color field in the new version.
Migrate custom code
Next, you'll need to migrate any custom code added to your Liquid files. Ideally, custom code will be documented so you can easily find it. However, if this is not the case, you can use the file comparison tool Diffchecker to help you remember where you've added custom code.
Follow the link to Diffchecker. Copy and paste the liquid file that you believe had custom code added to it into the Original Text field. Then copy and paste the corresponding file of the new version into the Changed Text field. Click Find Difference.
In the Original Text field, any code that does not appear in the Changed Text field will be highlighted in red (this will include changes we've made to the theme, but of course, you only need to worry about copying over custom code additions you've made).
Prepare for future updates
For any custom code carried over or future additions made, adding a comment that is easily searchable allows you to search and locate any custom code quickly when making future updates. Comments will not affect the code. Simply add <!-- and --> on either side of your comment, like so:
<!-- This is a comment. Custom code.-->
Be specific in your comment—add a note for the purpose, date, author, etc.
If you're adding code to the styles.css.liquid file, we recommend inserting it at the bottom of the page.
Any apps that add code to your theme's files may need to be reinstalled, depending on the app developer. You'll need to find the app documentation to follow the installation instructions. For guidance, go to Apps then click View details to find the support email for that Shopify app.
Please note that our theme support team does not support third-party apps.
Publishing the New Version
Once you've migrated all your settings and custom code, you're set to go. Hit Publish on the new version of the theme.
Tips and best practices for manual method
- Keep your current theme open in a separate window or take a few screenshots as a visual reference.
- Have all your image files (logo, favicon, banner pictures) easily accessible in a local folder so that when you need to add those again through the theme customizer, you can find and upload them easily.
- Take note of all of your social media account links and information (user names, client #, etc.) so that they're easy to copy and paste from one place.
- Set up a simple text document that includes as much info as possible about all the current theme settings that you want to reproduce, including any colors and fonts you've used throughout the current site (e.g. button color = #f9068f, Headline text = Google web font 'Lato', 20px, etc.); it's often easier to refer to the one document rather than switching back and forth between the theme customizer of the current site and the theme customizer of the new one in preview mode.
- If you've made any changes or additions to your actual theme files (styles.css.liquid, index.liquid, etc.), see if you can locate and make note of these in a separate text file, so that you can reproduce them all in the new version (a ‘changelog’ like this is a good thing to maintain at all times, as it will help you keep track of all your customizations and make any future upgrades easier).
- As you customize your new theme upgrade, work your way from the top-down, starting with the top bar/header section: re-add your logo and favicon, then re-add your images in the Home Page / Home Page Slider sections, and then deal with the fonts and colors, and finally the newsletter and social media info.
Finally, don't forget that you can also take this opportunity of the theme upgrade to change things up a bit in your shop (add some new pictures, try out some new colors, etc.) and take your time; just keep working in preview mode and then when you're finally ready to make the switch, hit the 'Publish' button.
FAQ for the alternative method:
Q: Can I switch to the new theme automatically, without losing my customizations?
A: Unfortunately not, you will need to apply (reproduce) all your custom edits in the new theme manually. This only applies if you are using the alternative method - your theme settings and basic customizations will be carried over if you use the Theme Updater app.
Q: Can I selectively add features from the updated theme to my current theme?
A: It would require additional development to selectively add an individual feature and is not recommended. We also have a list of recommended Shopify Experts.