Last updated July 26, 2017
Theming8.3.x

Themes are enabled, and disabled, via the user interface.

In this tutorial we'll learn to:

  • Install a theme and make it the default
  • Differentiate between installed themes, default themes, and uninstalled themes
  • Use an administration theme for the administration section of our site

Installing and Uninstalling Themes

A look at installing and uninstalling themes via Drupal's user interface.

Download a theme

New themes can be either custom themes that you create, or themes downloaded from Drupal.org. Before a theme can be installed, its files need to be placed into the /themes directory in the root of your Drupal project in a place where Drupal can find them.

Download a theme

Optionally, download a theme .zip, or .tar.gz file from Drupal.org. Unzip the the archive file, and copy the resulting directory to your project's /themes/contrib folder.

Or install a custom theme

Alternately, copy the files for your custom theme into your Drupal project's /themes/custom folder.

For more information about the location of a theme and its files see Structure of a Theme

Install a theme

Change the theme that users see when they are viewing your site.

Log in

Log in as an administrator, or another user who has permission to administer themes.

Open the Appearance page

Navigate to Appearance (admin/appearance) in the Toolbar. This is the primary location for configuring themes and their settings.

Locate the theme

Locate the theme that you would like to enable from the list of themes on the Appearance page.

Set as default

If the theme is already installed, click the link labeled Set as default.

Or install and set as default

If the theme is not currently installed, click the Install and set as default link for the theme that you want use.

Verify it worked

Navigate to the homepage, or any other public-facing page on your site, and you should see that your new theme is active.

Uninstall a theme

Change the theme that users see when they are viewing your site. You must always have at least one theme installed and set as default.

Log in

Log in as an administrator, or another user who has permission to administer themes.

Open the Appearance page

Navigate to Appearance (admin/appearance) in the Toolbar. This is the primary location for configuring themes and their settings.

Locate the theme

Locate the theme that you would like to uninstall in the list of installed themes on the Appearance page.

Uninstall the theme

Click on the link labeled Uninstall next to the theme to be disabled.

Verify it worked

You should see a message at the top of the page that says, The configuration options have been saved.

Installed vs. uninstalled and default

When you navigate to Appearance (admin/appearance) in the Toolbar you'll notice the page is divided into two sections: installed themes, and uninstalled themes.

It's possible to have more than one theme enabled at a time, but only one can be the default theme. For most sites, the default theme is the one that the general public will see when visiting the site.

In most cases you're likely to only have two themes installed: one used for the end-user facing portion of your website, and an administration theme.

Administration themes

Generally, you don't need the same flashy interface for your administrators as you do for your users. Instead, administrators want an interface that allows them to quickly and easily accomplish administration tasks in a consistent and user-friendly way.

Drupal allows you to designate a separate theme as the "administration theme." This theme will be used when displaying any administration pages -- for the most part, anything that starts with admin/ in the path. It may also be used for adding content and editing pages.

By default, Drupal uses the Seven administration theme that comes with core. However, should you want to change it, you can do so by following these steps:

1. Install the theme

Install the theme as per the instructions above, but instead of setting it to the default theme in this case you only need to click the Install link.

2. Choose an administration theme

At the bottom of the Appearance (admin/appearance) page there's an option to choose an Administration theme, and a select list that allows you to choose from any installed theme. Choose the theme you just installed from the list.

3. Save configuration

Click Save configuration to save your changes. You should see a message at the top of the page that says, The configuration options have been saved.

Further your understanding

  • What is the difference between a theme that's installed, and a theme that is set as the default?
  • When are non-default themes used?
  • Where does Drupal look for themes that it can install? Learn about the structure of a theme to understand more about the use-case for putting your code into each of these various locations.