I'm using a customised version of a commercial theme, with a lot of stuff in it.

I've changed style.css to only have:

Theme Name: A quite unique theme name
Theme URI: http://www.mywebsite.org/
Version: 1.0.0
Description: Unique description

Wordpress still finds an 'update' for the theme using the original name of the theme from the vendor. Wordpress says the current version is 1.0.0, which matches the style.css header.

Where is it getting the name from in order to look up the update?


  • 1
    Curious as to why you wouldn't create a child theme instead of modifying a commercial theme. The method you have chosen means you won't get any theme updates, including security updates and bug fixes.
    – vancoder
    Jun 3, 2021 at 15:06
  • @vancoder Yeah good point. The modifications I've made were not to the usual theme files but to some of the core working in some application logic. I am dumb and lazy, so have not checked if it's easily possible to override a PHP file with application logic in it from a child theme.
    – mozboz
    Jun 3, 2021 at 15:16
  • You can declare plugins to be private in 5.8 which should avoid this, maybe the same is true of themes?
    – Tom J Nowell
    Jun 3, 2021 at 15:30

2 Answers 2


It's the directory name.

If your theme is in wp-content/themes/my-theme, then the theme name is my-theme.

  • Thanks, should have thought of that. Do you happen to know if I change that directory name, will Wordpress then see that as a new theme and enabling it will cause it to run all its install stuff? Any way to silently update the directory name and where the WP setting is, so WP doesn't notice?
    – mozboz
    Jun 3, 2021 at 14:54
  • Sorry found the answer myself, yes it's possible to silently change directory and update settings. more info here: docs.appthemes.com/tutorials/…
    – mozboz
    Jun 3, 2021 at 15:09

For anyone looking to change the theme name (which as per Jacob's answer is the directory name) and have Wordpress not know what you've done you can manually change settings as described here: https://docs.appthemes.com/tutorials/how-to-change-wordpress-themes-directly-from-the-database/

For me the 'template' option also needed to be the directory name, it did not work as the string of the name as in the style.css header, which is what this doc says.

Also the commercial theme I was using did do some slightly weird things but they were an easy fix, so I would not recommend doing this without thoroughly testing that a theme/plugin you're using doesn't have some stored hard-coded reference to the directory name somewhere!

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