Switching Templates in Joomla
So, you want to use a different Joomla template for your Joomla website or Administrator panel? Under normal circumstance, switching between Joomla templates is a simple task. Sometimes however, for whatever reason you might be unable to use the Joomla Administrator to switch between templates or you just want to switch templates temporarily without your visitors noticing.
Change your Joomla template
You can change your Joomla template using several methods. The most common way is to use the Administrator, alternatively you can also use your database directly (using a tool such as phpMyAdmin) or using an URL (or via a link).
Using the Administrator
If you want to change your default Joomla template, by far the easiest way to do this is via the Joomla Administrator. If you want to change your template via the Joomla Administrator, you should head over to the Extension Manager. You can find this manager by navigation to ‘Extensions’ in the top menu of your Administrator and click on ‘Template Manager’. In the Template Manager you can now change your default Joomla template. If you haven’t yet installed the template you want to change to, read this tutorial on ‘Installing Joomla templates‘ for more information.
Selecting the template
The easiest way to select a template is by clicking on the star icon behind the desired template. This should immediately set the selected template as your default template. Note that you can set a separate template for your frontend and your Administrator section.
Alternative selection method
Another way to select a template (that allows for a more fine-grained selection) is by clicking on the template name. This takes you to the ‘Template Manager: Edit Style’ screen. In the ‘Details’ tab you can set the template as ‘Default’ template for one (or all) languages. Alternatively you can navigate to the ‘Menus assignment’ area where you can set the template to be displayed on certain menu items.
Using the database (via phpMyAdmin)
If – for whatever reason – you’re unable to change your template via your Joomla Administrator, then changing it via the database might be the solution for you. If you want to do this, you should use a tool such as phpMyAdmin and navigate to the xxxxx_template_styles table (where xxxxx is your own custom database table prefix). In that table you should set the ‘home’ column for the template that you want use to ‘1’. Don’t forget to switch the previous template style that you were using to ‘0’.
Using an URL (or link)
What if you want to have a peak at a new template, without making your visitors see it as well? Or perhaps you want to have a look at a website that’s not your and want to see how the website would look in one of the default Joomla templates? A little known trick is that you can view the website in a different template by appending a parameter to the URL. Do note that this is limited exclusively to template that are installed on the particular website. The parameter that you should append is ?template=template_name where template_name is the template that you want to change to. Unfortunately the change works only for the page that you’re currently viewing, and after you click on a link you should append the parameter again.