Themes: Essential

Maintained by Gareth J Barnard Gareth J Barnard
Essential is a clean and customizable theme. Essential is tested and tried by thousands of users, and ranks number one by site usage for all available third party themes.
10830 sites
292 fans

The "Essential" Moodle Theme

With 2.5 now released Julian thought it time to take the opportunity to build a new theme that would push the new theme engine to it's limits a bit.  With that in mind he introduced the new "Essential" theme.  Now Julian has left us for Canvassian adventures, David and Gareth took over development and maintenance.  And now David has left for pastures new, Gareth continues to maintain and make improvements.

The idea of this theme is to make the site look as little like Moodle as possible. In this specific instance, it would be used on sites where Moodle would potentially serve as a company homepage rather than just a course list.

Cool things to know about the theme.

  • It attempts to load as many as possible icons from a font.
  • Most of what you think are "graphics" are actually the Font Awesome font (
  • The slider on the front page is completely customisable through theme settings.
  • I am really trying to push what Bootstrap ( Grids can do.  As such the theme is fully responsive.
  • The footer is all custom Moodle regions.  This means blocks can be added.
  • The theme can use Google web fonts ( to give it that extra bit of shazam!
  • Social network icons appear at the top of the page dynamically based on theme settings.
  • The entire colour scheme can be modified with theme settings.


Please see the 'Support' section in 'README.txt' file that comes with the theme.

Reporting issues:

Please read the 'Reporting issues' section in 'README.txt' file that comes with the theme before posting / contacting me.  If there is any missing information then I'll only ask for it which will delay you getting a solution to your problem.

Video Promo:


In versions,, and above.


Please note that previously the version for Moodle 2.6 was 2.7.x as well, but since these versions are now separated we also lowered the displayed version number.

Moodle Version

Essential Version


2.5 2.5.8Last release for M2.5
2.6 2.6.11Last release for M2.6
2.7 release for M2.7 Last release for M2.8
Current version
3.0 version
3.1 version version version

For more information visit the official Essential theme website at:


Screenshot #0
Screenshot #1


Gareth J Barnard
Gareth J Barnard (Lead maintainer)
Julian Ridden
Julian Ridden: Original author
David Bezemer: Contributor
Please login to view contributors details and/or to contact them

Comments RSS

Show comments
  • Picture of Reece Jones
    Wed, 24 May 2017, 8:55 AM
    Hi Gareth,
    not sure if this is Essential or core -- with the new flat navigation, I can't find some of the course admin settings ie. Backup / Restore & Manual enrolments. It's a catch-22 as I feel the flat nav is simpler for student users but is making life difficult for admin. Thanks!
  • Gareth J Barnard
    Thu, 25 May 2017, 6:08 PM
    Hi Reece,

    Similar to the Boost theme there is a 'gear' icon at the top. In Essential's case it is on the navbar, so easier to access even when you're down the page.

  • Picture of Matthew Lowe
    Fri, 26 May 2017, 8:40 AM
    Hi Gareth.

    Congrats on keeping Essentials theme going. Great work.

    Have you ever considered, or has any one suggested, the addition of buttons to navigate between activities and resources in a course?

    Functionality like would be a spectacular addition.

    Keep up the great work.
  • Gareth J Barnard
    Fri, 26 May 2017, 11:38 PM
    Hi Matthew,

    I remember seeing this a while back, but not considered adding them to Essential. Would you be willing to fund their feasibility and implementation in the theme?

    Kind regards,

  • Picture of Travis Mitchell
    Wed, 31 May 2017, 11:53 PM
    Hi Gareth -

    Love the Essential Theme because it includes so many individualized settings, but I can't determine where I would edit the footer blocks (left, right, and middle). Also, I use Essential as my site's base theme, but I need to use different colors and logos for my categories so I "cloned" the theme with a different name to force the different theme for the different categories. Is there an easier way to do the same thing without needing to clone the theme? Finally, does Essential v3.2.1.1 work okay with Moodle v3.3? Or where would I get a copy of Essential v3.3.0.1?
  • Picture of Travis Mitchell
    Wed, 31 May 2017, 11:55 PM
    (disregard my last question re: v3.3.0.1.... I just needed to look deeper)
  • Gareth J Barnard
    Thu, 1 Jun 2017, 4:06 AM
    Hi Travis,

    Glad you found, I'm working on, both beta. There will be a stable in the future.

    For the categories you could use a child theme containing only the settings you need. However creating such a theme is not trivial (but less work than cloning the theme) and its something I sell as a bespoke customisation rather than giving a template away for free.

    Version may or may not work on M3.3, however it is not designed for it and if you look at the work I've put into you'll see why.

    Kind regards,

  • Picture of Reece Jones
    Thu, 1 Jun 2017, 8:06 AM
    Thanks Gareth -- best of both world.
  • Picture of Reece Jones
    Fri, 2 Jun 2017, 8:01 AM
    Another nav question - forgive me if the answer is obvious, but I can't find my way to the advanced grading settings - to edit rubrics etc.
  • Gareth J Barnard
    Fri, 2 Jun 2017, 5:26 PM
  • Picture of michell mejia
    Tue, 6 Jun 2017, 10:35 PM
    Anybody can help me please... I Add ATTO more colors plugins and now i upload a new media (video) and dont run... only show a MEDIA SQUARE but i cant put play.
  • Picture of Aaron Metz
    Thu, 8 Jun 2017, 12:07 AM
    Hi Gareth,

    Similar to Reece I cannot see the "Gear" icon in the Nav Bar in order to Admin courses.

    I have the latest version installed 3.3 on a 3.3 server.

    Appreciate any pointers and thanks for maintaining.
  • Gareth J Barnard
    Thu, 8 Jun 2017, 1:30 AM
    Hi Aaron,

    Latest version?

    Kind regards,

  • Picture of David Duba
    Tue, 13 Jun 2017, 11:41 PM
    How can I download this theme if I have a macbook? Is there an installer for OS X software?
  • Gareth J Barnard
    Wed, 14 Jun 2017, 12:26 AM
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