How to Schedule WordPress Theme Changes in the Customizer


Written by

Dave Warfel

Reading Time

4 minutes

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In 2016 & 2017, WordPress has been constantly improving the Customizer—a feature used to make changes to your WordPress theme options, site design & other common settings.

WordPress 4.9 introduces another big update to the Customizer—the ability to schedule changes to go live at a future time. Also, if you’d prefer, you can save Customizer changes as a draft, and return to them later.

NOTE: This article is about scheduling theme design changes in the Customizer, not about scheduling WordPress posts and/or pages.

Let’s dive into the Customizer and I’ll explain how these new features work.

First off, let’s navigate to the Customizer by going to Appearance > Customize.

Appearance > Customize navigation

Once you arrive in the Customizer, you’ll notice the Publish button at the top of the page looks different. There’s a settings icon next to the button. Clicking on this icon will expose new publishing options; namely, “Save Draft” and “Schedule.”

WordPress 4.9 publishing options
New publishing options in the Customizer

Let’s take a quick step back. Before we can take any of these actions, we need to actually make at least one change to our site.

Navigate through your theme design options in the left sidebar, and change whatever you’d like. Once you’ve made your changes, let’s talk about how to save and schedule them.

01Schedule Theme Changes in Customizer

WordPress 4.9 Customizer scheduling options

Let’s take a look at how to schedule Customizer changes to go live at a future date (maybe for a marketing campaign, or new product launch).

  1. Click the settings icon next to the Publish button at the top of the left sidebar
  2. Under Action, choose “Schedule”
  3. Choose a date & time in the future
  4. The button will now say “Schedule.” Click that button.

Here’s a little animation:

WordPress Customizer changesets
Animation showing how to schedule Customizer changes.

Previewing Your Scheduled Changes

After you click “Schedule,” you’ll notice a new section appear titled Share Preview Link. You can share this link with anyone whom you’d like to be able to preview the changes you just made. They do not need a WordPress account, or any access to your WordPress admin area. Anyone in the world can use this preview link.

WordPress Customizer preview link

Just send the link to whomever you’d like. Your changes will remain in place as they navigate through the site. This is made possible because of a unique URL parameter that gets added to each set of changes you make in the Customizer.


02Save Theme Changes as Draft

Alternatively, you can save your Customizer changes as a draft. Come back to them later, or share the preview link to get feedback. The process is very similar.

  1. Click the settings icon next to the Publish button at the top of the left sidebar
  2. Under Action, choose “Save Draft”
  3. The button will change to say “Save Draft.” Click that button.
WordPress Customizer "Save Draft" option
Choose “Save Draft” on the right. Then click the button on the top-left.

Preview Your Changes

You can preview your draft changes the same way you preview scheduled changes. Just use the provided Share Preview Link and send it to whomever needs to preview your changes.

03Discarding Theme Changes in Customizer

If at any time you decide you need to start over, or delete the changes you’ve made, you can do that as well. Discarding changes works the same, whether you’ve saved them as a draft or scheduled them.

  1. Click the settings icon to open up the publishing options
  2. Click on the Discard changes link

Discard changes link in WordPress Customizer

This will erase any changes that have either been saved or scheduled, and bring your site back to exactly how the live version currently appears to users.

Will you use this new Customizer scheduling feature for your WordPress site? Please chime in on how you’re using the Customizer, or if there are any improvements you think could be made. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Dave Warfel

LinkedIn  •  X (Twitter)Dave has been working with WordPress since 2011. He's built 100s of client sites and almost a dozen of his own. He's tested almost every plugin you can think of, hosted with at least 10 different companies, and gone down every SEO rabbit hole you can imagine. When's he's not tinkering with new software, you'll find him in the mountains of Colorado, trail running, summiting peaks, and rippin' downhills on his mountain bike. 🏔️🏃🚴🤸

2 responses to “How to Schedule WordPress Theme Changes in the Customizer”

  1. Meg Avatar

    This is such a helpful feature! Other than making sure I’ve updated my site so it’s running wp 4.9.1, is there something I need to do to get the settings button to show up? My customizer still just says “save and publish” even though I’ve updated. Thanks for the helpful tutorial!

    1. Dave Warfel Avatar

      Hey Meg — Anything above WordPress 4.9 should have the ability to schedule changes, so your version (4.9.1) should be eligible. I’m not aware of any other settings or setup that would prevent you from having this capability.

      Are you just changing a setting in your current theme (like colors, background image, etc.)? Or are you switching the entire theme?

      One thing to note is that theme switching cannot be scheduled. If you’re switching themes, your button will say “Activate & Publish,” and that is your only option.

      But I have not seen the button say just “Save & Publish.” Do you not see the settings cog icon on the right-side of the button at all?

      If you’d like further assistance, you can email me directly and I can try to troubleshoot further with you. [email protected]

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