I installed WordPress on my website along with a theme close to what I wanted. I then changed virtually all the formatting to make it conform to my site. I don't plan on publishing my version, but I would like to make it my own so as not to confuse it with the original. I get notices about updates to the original and I don't want to inadvertently upgrade it.

I see that the folder under themes has the name of the theme, but I imagine there's more to it than that. I can do database alters if necessary. Would it be easier just to create a new theme and copy all the files to it?


The alternative to using a child theme is to make two adjustments to the current theme although technically only one is actually required.

  1. Update the theme name in the theme's style.css file in the commented section at the top, sometimes referred to as the theme's headers.
  2. Rename the theme's main folder, ie. wp-content/themes/THIS-THEME-NAME

#1 is required, the second is optional, but advised so you don't clash with any new copies of the original theme that may get uploaded(which would overwrite your changed version).

NOTE: If you plan to make these changes to a theme, switch to another theme momentarily on the installation whilst doing so, otherwise your database will get left holding incorrect data on the currently active theme(technically it should cause a theme reset anyway, but it would be the better practice to switch theme before making the changes).

Personally i think the child theme approach is safer, but seeing as you've already modded the theme that's potentially hours of work to re-add all the custom code into new files(in the form of a child theme), so hopefully the above is helpful.. :)

  • 1
    Adding to this, don't forget to change the theme's url. It's the single most important part in the algorithm WP uses to determine if a theme or a plugin's version has changed. Dec 1 '10 at 20:52
  • Thanks, that did the trick. I forgot to change to the base theme on my test sever before making the changes. When I went to do so, WordPress determined it wasn't there any more and switched to the default theme. I also changed the screenshot.png to my own screen shot.
    – curt
    Dec 2 '10 at 18:02

The common way to build on top of existing theme is to create Child Theme, which allows to add your modifications while preserving compatibility with parent theme updates and such.

So depending on what you want there are two options:

  1. Move your modifications to child theme.
  2. Discard compatibility and edit theme so it's no longer recognized as original. Likely changing folder name and theme name would be enough, but it's best to also change rest of stuff (while preserving attribution to original author).

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