Update Shopify Theme Without Losing Content or Customization

A ‘new version’ always brings something new to the current version you are using that ensures all the latest bug fixes and new features to the Shopify theme.

Like you, I’m a big fan of new theme updates and always excited to keep my Shopify store up to date with the latest and greatest features. But the manual theme updating process is quite irritating.

Why do Shopify themes not update automatically?

Shopify themes only update automatically when no code changes have been made to your theme (by you or any installed app), and the theme update does not add new settings.

This is due to the fact that automatic updates overwrite custom code changes and all the customizations you’ve made will be removed from your Shopify store. If you want to upgrade your theme but have modified the code or installed an app that has changed the code, you’ll have to manually add an updated version to your online store.

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Best Ways To Update Shopify Themes

Are you worried about losing all your customizations when you update Shopify theme?

Here I will show you two different methods for updating your Shopify theme without losing your customization.

Using Shopify Themes Store

You might be familiar with this method of updating themes for your Shopify Store. If not, then have a look at the below steps:

Step 1: Create a backup copy of your existing theme.

  1. From your Shopify admin, go to Online Store > Themes.
  2. For the theme that you want to duplicate, click Actions > Duplicate.


This will create a new theme-backup of your current theme as shown below:


Step 2: Visit the Shopify Theme Store and log in.

Step 3: Search for your theme in the search box.

Step 4: On the search results page, click on the theme you are currently in.

Step 5: Click Add latest theme version button.

You can see the latest theme version is added to your theme library as shown below:


Step 6: Customize your Shopify theme using the theme editor. OR Copy the theme settings code from the current theme and add it to the new theme version.

  1. Open the theme settings file: Action > Edit Code.
  2. Scroll down to Config > Open settings_data.json.


Copy the entire code (from settings_data.json file of the current theme) and paste it on the settings_data.json file of the new theme version.


Step 7: You can test the new theme extensively and make sure everything works as expected.

Step 8: Once you’re ready, simply publish the new theme as the main theme.


This one can be quite a lengthy and confusing theme updating process for you. Let’s move to the easiest method that will help you to update your theme in just 2-3 minutes.

Using Shopify Theme Updater App

The Theme Updater App facilitates the update process by providing a quick and easy way to upgrade popular Shopify themes, without losing any of your configured theme settings.


In this method, you don’t need to visit the theme store every time for checking new theme updates and installing them. In addition, it saves you time from customizing the new theme template all again from start to finish.

If you’ve installed the Theme Updater App to your Shopify store then let’s move further by updating your theme.

Update Shopify Theme

Follow the Step by Step Instructions:

Step 1: Go to the Theme Updater App: Apps > Theme Updater.

Step 2: On the Dashboard, you can see if the theme updates are available or not.

Step 3: Click the Update button to update your theme.

The app will install an unpublished copy of the latest version of your theme.


Step 4: You should then preview and test the new unpublished theme thoroughly.

Step 5: When you have fully tested your store and you’re ready to go live with the new version, go to Online Store > Themes and click ‘Actions’ on the updated theme > Publish.

There can be some instances when your theme would not be registered. At that time, you would need to register it before you update it.


Change Your Shopify theme: Switching to a New Theme

Do not wish to continue with your current theme? You can easily switch to another Shopify theme. Moreover, you can either select any theme from the Shopify store or upload and install any downloaded theme to your Shopify store.

Explore Shopify Themes for your Online Store

There are tons of amazing themes available in the Shopify theme store you can also browse new themes from your store.


Shopify offers many free eCommerce website templates, thus saving millions of small businesses from high investments at the beginning.

Check out the amazing themes and add them to your store which fulfill your requirements. Following are the best free Shopify themes you can get for your store:

  1. Dawn theme
  2. Debut theme
  3. Brooklyn theme
  4. Minimal theme
  5. Supply theme
  6. Narrative theme
  7. Express theme
  8. Venture theme
  9. Boundless theme
  10. Simple theme

Amongst the above-listed themes, the Dawn Shopify theme is the only free OS 2.0 theme in the Shopify theme store. There are many other Shopify 2.0 themes in the theme store you may like to check.

Change the Current Shopify Theme

Now let’s see how you can change the current theme of your Shopify store.

Follow the Step by Step Instructions:

Step 1: Log in to your store and visit the Shopify theme store.

Step 2: Select the new theme you want to add to your store.

Step 3: Click the Try theme button on the new theme page.


The new theme will be added to the theme library of your store as shown below:


Step 4: Click on the Customize button to customize the newly added theme using the theme editor.

Step 5: Test the new theme using the built-in Shopify theme preview tool.

Step 6: After all the customization is done perfectly, you can click on the Action > Publish button to publish it to your Shopify store.

Make sure about a few points that may affect the outcome of your new theme

  1. How does the mobile version look?
  2. Does your logo look right?
  3. Does the content fit properly?
  4. Have you done the manual changes to the new theme files such as custom CSS, Images, or HTML / Liquid (that you’ve made in the old theme)?
  5. Do the Shopify apps work well with your new theme?
  6. Have you changed the style of the Shopify apps that are added to your store (optional)?

Wrapping Up!

Hope this Shopify theme customization guide remained helpful to you. For more information, you can contact us and allow us to help you out.


About the author

4 Responses

  1. Hi Sagarika,

    Great article. However I’d like to point something out. If someone uses a Theme that is not 2.0, overwriting only the settings_data.json file should do the “trick”. But with 2.0 themes anyone who wishes to keep all changes (not just theme style ones) should also overwrite the other .json files as well. For example the index.json, product.json, collection.json, list-collections.json etc. because whenever a merchant or developer makes a change on the shop admin interface, these settings are now saved to separate .json files.
    I just tested this with Dawn, upgrading from 2.5 to 3.0 and not wishing to re-customize manually everything, that’s so counterproductive. Upgrading possibilities also depend on how heavily modified is a Theme, as stated out in the Shopify documentation. Hope this helps others, too to understand the process better.
    Have a nice day!

    1. Thank you so much, Emoke. This input is really valuable! Keep sharing 😊

      1. You’re welcome. Your articles are very detailed and well illustrated, so really helpful for the community. Thank you for letting me add a side note to contribute to the knowledgebase 🙂

        1. Most welcome!😊

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