September 4, 2020
WordPress is one of the most popular open-source projects in the world, with 70 developers contributing 4,969 commits to the core in 2019. Knowing that, it’s probably not surprising to learn that there’s usually a new WordPress release every single month (if not more like two or three)!
Some of these releases are full new versions or critical security patches, in which we recommend updating all your sites to the latest version fairly quickly. Others are minor fixes or even release candidates that are less critical to update right away or even optional (in the case of beta releases).
If your sites are on a managed WordPress host, updates are probably automatically taken care of for you. The Core Hosting, for example, updates major versions two weeks after release and security updates 24-72 hours after release. Of course, you can always manually update your site yourself or opt-out of major version updates if you need more time for testing.
If you’re not working with a managed provider yet, you’ll likely have to manually update your sites to the latest version via the WordPress admin panel. This is very easy to do, but can be time-consuming if you manage lots of client sites.
To update WordPress manually, simply log into wp-admin and look for a notification at the top of the homepage prompting you to update. Click that, and you’re good to go!
Even if your hosting provider takes care of updates for you, it’s still a good idea to be in the know about the latest WordPress version. Then you can make sure your sites are ready for the upgrade and can take advantage of any important new features (like the recent Gutenberg Editor)!
To help you stay up to date with the most current WordPress version, we’ve created this changelog where we’ll publish the details of major version updates, security releases, and maintenance releases.
The latest WordPress version is 5.5.1 “Eckstine” that came out on August 11th, 2020. Other recent versions include:
Released on September 1, 2020.
This maintenance release features 34 bug fixes and five enhancements. Nothing too exciting in this short-cycle maintenance release except for improvements in user interface functionality. The WordPress core team is working around the clock to ready WordPress 5.6 for its target release in December!
Highlights of this maintenance release include:
Released on August 12th, 2020.
This new version of WordPress, named after Billy Eckstine, is bringing improvements to three primary areas of your sites: speed, search, and security.
Posts and pages now use lazy loading to feel like they load faster to users. This means images won’t load until they’re about to scroll into view, which should give image-heavy sites a nice boost in performance. (In fact, this is one of our recommended steps when optimizing images for the web!)
By default, WordPress 5.5 will include an XML sitemap from the moment you go live. This will help search engines discover your content sooner, and therefore help more people find your content sooner.
Outdated themes and plugins are one of the most common reasons sites get hacked, but it’s also easy to miss an update (especially if you’re using lots or managing several sites). WordPress 5.5 gives you the new option to set themes and plugins to automatically update when a new version releases, so you can automate the process on a per plugin or per theme basis.
A word of caution: Sometimes an update can cause problems on a site, which is why we usually recommend either making updates on a staging site first or using a service like The Hosting Guy’s Managed Plugin Updates Add-on (in which we’ll review the site and roll back updates if anything breaks).
A few other highlights of WordPress 5.5:
For more information about this release, check out the announcement post.
Released on June 10th, 2020.
WordPress 5.4.2 features 23 bug fixes and 6 security patches, so it’s recommended you update to the latest version. If you haven’t updated to version 5.4, there’re also updated versions of 5.3 and earlier that fix the bugs for you!
Highlights of the WordPress 5.4.2 security updates include:
set-screen-optioncan be misused by plugins leading to privilege escalation.
Released on April 29th, 2020.
WordPress 5.4.1 features 17 bug fixes and 7 security patches, so it’s highly recommended you update to the latest version if you haven’t already.
Highlights of the WordPress 5.4.1 security updates include:
wp-object-cache, and file uploads.
Released on March 31st, 2020.
This major release, named after American jazz trumpeter Nat Adderley, is all about giving you more ways to make your pages come to life without sacrificing speed (in your workflow or your page load time). Let’s start with block updates.
Naturally, enhancements to the Gutenberg Editor were a big focus of this release. Here are some of the new things you’ll see!
On top of all the block updates, WordPress 5.4 brings cleaner UI and easier navigation. You’ll find things like block breadcrumbs, better tabbing and focus when navigating with the keyboard, and a faster editor load time. (51% faster time to type!)
To round it out, this version also helps with some privacy-related matters (like being able to see progress as you process export and erasure requests), and a number of enhancements specifically for developers.
Here are a few highlights!
Released on December 18th, 2019.
This maintenance release features 5 fixes and enhancements. Some high-severity tickets were opened shortly after WordPress 5.3.1 was released, so the team pushed this release to solve those issues.
Highlights of the WordPress 5.3.2 updates include:
get_feed_build_date()correctly handles a modified post object with an invalid date.
wp_unique_filename()when uploading a file with upper case extension on non case-sensitive file systems.
wp_unique_filename()when the destination directory is unreadable.
Released on December 13th, 2019.
This update features 46 fixes and enhancements, including a number of security improvements. For this reason, updating is highly recommended!
This security release includes fixes for:
On top of these security updates, WordPress 5.3.1 also introduces several maintenance fixes, such as:
Released on November 12th, 2019.
WordPress 5.3, named after jazz multi-instrumentalist Rahsaan Roland Kirk, brings some great improvements to the publishing experience. This version includes the new default theme, Twenty Twenty, which takes full advantage of the block editor to offer new levels of flexibility and design. It also features a variable font for the first time (Inter by Rasmus Andersson), which is easy to read for users and easy to load for browsers.
The block editor was also a major focus of this update, with over 150 new features and usability improvements!
I won’t list them all, but here are some of the highlights:
Beyond the block editor and Twenty Twenty, WordPress 5.3 also introduces some basic improvements that everyone will appreciate. Images will now automatically rotate on upload based on the embedded orientation data – a feature that was first proposed nine years ago! And now when you log into a site as an administrator, you’ll occasionally be asked to verify your email address. This should help reduce the chance of getting locked out in the event that your address changes.
For more information about WordPress 5.3, check out the official release.
Released on October 14th, 2019.
This security update fixes six bugs that are found in WordPress versions earlier than and including 5.2.3.
This security release includes fixes for:
Released on September 5th, 2019.
This security update fixes bugs that are found in WordPress versions earlier than and including 5.2.2, along with a few additional feature enhancements. Updating is highly recommended!
This security release includes fixes for:
Released on June 18th, 2019.
This maintenance release fixes 13 bugs and includes improvements to the Site Health feature released in WordPress 5.2.
Highlights of the tickets completed in the 5.2.2 Maintenance Release include:
Released on May 21st, 2019.
This maintenance release fixes 33 bugs (nice work, core contributors!) and includes improvements to the block editor, accessibility, internationalization, and the Site Health feature released in WordPress 5.2.
Highlights of the tickets completed in the 5.2.1 Maintenance Release include:
WordPress is constantly evolving and improving thanks to the dedicated team of developers working on the core. For more information about any and all WordPress versions, be sure to check out the Release Archive.