I am looking to create a mobile-only child theme for my site on a separate WordPress install but which is on the same server at the main install.

Example of folder Structure:









Would I have to duplicate the parent theme into the Tablet theme directory and repeat every time the parent theme is changed or is there a solution in which the child-theme can use the parent theme from the main install directory?

Note: WP Multisite is not an option due to all sites sharing the same database.

  • How are you going to find out if an incoming page request is from a mobile client?
    – cjbj
    Jan 31, 2017 at 11:52
  • Using WURLF, user agent detection. We already use this method in our current set up using individual themes for each install
    – James
    Jan 31, 2017 at 11:55
  • Yes, but are you detecting the device on the server level and then redirect to the appropriate WP-install, or are you detecting it in the WP-install and want to switch the theme there, if necessary?
    – cjbj
    Jan 31, 2017 at 12:03
  • It is detected on the server level and user is directed to wp-install, we have a different WP for Desktop, Mobile, Tablet
    – James
    Jan 31, 2017 at 12:04
  • In that case, I wouldn't know. Handing over to a different theme in the same installation might be easier. See this, for a slightly different problem: wordpress.stackexchange.com/questions/128504/…
    – cjbj
    Jan 31, 2017 at 12:13

1 Answer 1


Apparently what you want has been discussed for seven years now and still is waiting for a final solution.

However, since 4.7 there is the function get_parent_theme_file_path, which is called when a parent theme file is needed. This function has a filter which allows you to change the location. So, if you insert that filter into your child theme, you should be able to redirect all requests for a parent theme file to another WP installation altogether (if the security settings on the parent install allow outside calls to individual theme files).

I haven't actually tried this, but it should work.

  • This would have to be used for nearly every file though, would not a true 'child theme' imo.
    – James
    Jan 31, 2017 at 14:32
  • Yes, if you don't want your parent theme duplicated in the child install, every call to a parent theme file must be redirected like this. (personally I would just duplicate the parent theme to avoid complications)
    – cjbj
    Jan 31, 2017 at 14:37

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