Your Moodle version

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 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 version
3.1 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 Michael Foran
    Mon, May 23, 2016, 2:03 PM
    Hi All,

    Great theme and keep up the good work.

    I am trying to increase the size of the background image for drag and drop questions. I have found the code in the inspect elements and right click edit text and change to {"width":800,"height":600}, then close the elements and go back in, however it changes back to the 600x400. What am I doing wrong and/or is there another step, as I can't see where to save anywhere?

    This is the location I found for details:
    Y.use("moodle-qtype_ddimageortext-form",function() {M.qtype_ddimageortext.init_form({"maxsizes":{"bgimage":{"width":600,"height":400},"dragimage":{"width":150,"height":100}},"topnode":"fieldset#id_previewareaheader"});


  • Gareth J Barnard
    Mon, May 23, 2016, 7:21 PM
    Hi Michael,

    As this is bespoke customisation, there are two options available to you:

    1. Pay me for my time to investigate the problem.
    2. Ask on the Quiz forum.

    Kind regards,

  • Picture of Oleg Bender
    Thu, May 26, 2016, 7:41 AM
    Waiting for new version for moodle 3.1.
  • Picture of Curtis Stewart
    Thu, May 26, 2016, 10:31 PM

    We are all waiting for a new version for moodle 3.1. If you feel so strongly about getting it, perhaps you should consider donating money to Gareth so that he can focus his efforts without him feeling like he's throwing his time away.
  • Gareth J Barnard
    Thu, May 26, 2016, 11:04 PM
    Dear Oleg,

    I'm currently thinking about how this will work:

    Kind regards,

  • Gareth J Barnard
    Thu, May 26, 2016, 11:05 PM
    Dear Curtis,

    Thank you smile. I'm currently thinking on how this will work - - and will post probably on the themes forum. Currently doin iMoot 2016 so likely to be next week after I finish a few other things too.

    Kind regards,

  • Picture of Trevor Wood
    Thu, Jun 2, 2016, 8:18 AM
    Gareth i love the essential theme. one tiny question. is there a reason the theme strips "# enrolled users" from the header of the enrolled users page? seems an odd choice as the function is pretty handy.
  • Gareth J Barnard
    Thu, Jun 2, 2016, 4:28 PM
    Hi Trevor,

    I did not know it even did that. Not see it before. To fully understand the exact problem and be clear about the page concerned, please post Moodle version, Essential version, screen shot of issue and how to replicate on the themes forum:

  • Picture of Jason Long
    Thu, Jun 2, 2016, 11:08 PM
    I love this theme, but as of Moodle 3.1 I can't seem to get the font awesome icons to work. Or rather, some do, but some don't. Many don't show up at all. I wasn't sure if this was a 3.1 issue or if I could be missing something else?
  • Gareth J Barnard
    Thu, Jun 2, 2016, 11:31 PM
    Dear Jason,

    The Moodle 3.0 version is not designed to work with Moodle 3.1 - this is currently being thought out, please see: Until the M3.1 version is created and tested I will not expend any time looking at issues related to M3.1 and the theme.

    Kind regards,

  • Picture of Shirish Patil
    Wed, Jul 20, 2016, 4:13 PM
    Great Theme.
    Gives great control to customize.
  • Picture of Francis Vendrell
    Tue, Jul 26, 2016, 4:13 AM
    It seems that last version is not compatible with Moodle 3.1.1+. See
    Parse error: syntax error, unexpected '$string' (T_VARIABLE) in ... theme/essential/lang/en/theme_essential.php on line 585
  • Gareth J Barnard
    Tue, Jul 26, 2016, 4:56 AM
    I've replied on the thread linked. At the moment appears to be your site specific.
  • Picture of Barbara Taylor
    Wed, Jul 27, 2016, 11:02 AM
    Hi Gareth,

    We are using your theme this fall and are having a slow loading page that is point at

    Do you know why it is slow and what we can do to fix it?

  • Gareth J Barnard
    Wed, Jul 27, 2016, 8:24 PM
    Hi Barbara,

    No I don't know why it is slow. That file is a core file and not to do with Essential. Raise a Moodle Tracker issue with evidence if not one already - ask on an appropriate forum.

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