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Themes: Essential

Maintained by Gareth J Barnard Gareth J Barnard
Essential is a clean and customizable theme for all supported Moodle versions. Essential is tested and tried by thousands of users, and ranks number one for all available third party themes.

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 [Awesome font](
- The slider on the frontpage of the demo site 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 footer of the demo site is full of HTML blocks in this instance
- The Theme uses [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
- The homepage main area is just a label. The theme will ship with custom classes that you can set for tables and links to modify their formatting. No knowledge of code is needed as you can use the text editor to do this. Documentation will be provided outlining what the additional classes are.


Due to the high volume of site specific installation questions I am no longer able to answer questions here.  Please post on the themes forum: for community support.

Video Promo:


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 Candidate

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

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Show comments
  • Picture of Martin Benda
    Tue, Dec 8, 2015, 5:04 PM
    Hey. Thanks for the great template. Version 3 will be? If so, when?
  • Gareth J Barnard
    Tue, Dec 8, 2015, 6:13 PM
    Hi Martin,

    Essential for Moodle 3.0 will be released when I have a business case to make it.

    Kind regards,

  • Picture of Alex Luty
    Wed, Dec 23, 2015, 6:48 PM
    Hi, Gareth.
    Can You colorize the course cathegory tree?
    For example such this:
    >Root - blue color
    >>>>>Layer-1 - green color
    >>>>>>>>>>>Layer-2 - red color
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Layer-3 - magenta color
    ............................ and so on ......................
    Admin user must have possibility to change this colors in theme colors menu.
    I think it's not very hard to do, but would look nice.
    Advance grateful,
  • Gareth J Barnard
    Wed, Dec 23, 2015, 7:28 PM
    Hi Alex,

    If you pay me for my time then I'll look into it for you.

    Kind regards,

  • Picture of Marek Kancelarek
    Wed, Dec 23, 2015, 10:02 PM
    Have you considered adding some features/upgrading compatibility and selling the theme on themeforest or somewhere similar while maintaining only the most basic version with bugfixes here?
  • Gareth J Barnard
    Wed, Dec 23, 2015, 11:37 PM
    Hi Marek,


    Kind regards,

  • Picture of Keith Revell
    Mon, Jan 4, 2016, 7:24 AM
    Problem in latest version 2015062417 when grading quiz?

    I have just updated my test system to the latest version as part of my process before upgrading our production system. When testing the grading of a quiz, when I select the "Mark comment or override mark" and the pop out box appears, normally with the question and grading options, in the latest version of the them this pop out box is blank. I am unable to grade any quiz question. This has only occurred in the latest release, all previous versions worked fine.

  • Gareth J Barnard
    Mon, Jan 4, 2016, 7:29 AM
    Hi Keith,

    I have raised: - what version of Moodle are you running please?

    Kind regards,

  • Picture of Keith Revell
    Mon, Jan 4, 2016, 7:40 AM
    Hi Gareth,

    I am running Moodle 2.9.3 (Build: 20151109), Essential version 2015062413 is my current production version and it works OK,

  • Gareth J Barnard
    Mon, Jan 4, 2016, 7:47 AM
    Thanks for letting me know Keith, please give me a day or two to look into it.
  • Picture of Javier Hernández
    Thu, Jan 21, 2016, 7:42 PM
    We are having trouble with the last update of essential theme.

    - FIX: Changes to child theme mechanism

    We have created a child but now we do not burden the head.php

    We do not work in layouts:


    We do not work in login:


    We have read in the forum that within the theme is a example for a child, but we have sought and we have not seen that.

    Please we need help for this.

  • Picture of daniel avon
    Mon, Feb 1, 2016, 8:25 AM
    We are with Essential on Moodle 2.8.6. I would like to know if it is possible to modify the color of the block's background.

  • Gareth J Barnard
    Mon, Feb 1, 2016, 8:53 AM
    Hi Daniel,

    Through the UI = no. In custom CSS = yes. In later versions with UI = only footer blocks.

  • Picture of Jeremy Luedtke
    Wed, Feb 3, 2016, 7:41 PM
    Hi Gareth,

    First of all, thanks for maintaining this great theme. I, as the admin, love it and our students and tutors enjoy the functionality of everything.
    I am wondering if it would be possible to implement a color change to files that have been clicked and downloaded on main course pages and inside folders?
    We have courses with many audio files (most inside folders and some on the main course page) and many of the students are asking for something along these lines.
    I have taken a look for a plugin or forum posts on this topic but I cannot find anything.
    What do you think?

  • Gareth J Barnard
    Wed, Feb 3, 2016, 8:47 PM
    Hi Jeremy,

    This would be an enhancement to have a setting for the clicked link colour. I'd be happy to quote for the cost of the work if you would be willing to fund it.

    Kind regards,

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