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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

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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  • Picture of Francis Kneebone
    Mon, Apr 18, 2016, 10:07 AM
    Hi guys,

    Sorry if this has been asked, (couldn't find this question so far). With the version, Essentials,, there is the button introduced, appearing on many pages "Return to section #", (in our case it say "Return to section 5" with 5 being the course ID, which is just confusing to users.)

    Can this button be turned off or hidden? (I can't find a way to target it specifically with CSS)

    Any help appreciated, and really really appreciate the continued work on the theme.

  • Gareth J Barnard
    Mon, Apr 18, 2016, 8:01 PM
    Hi Francis,

    Ok, a few points:

    1. There is only me - please see information at the top of
    2. Its called the 'Essential' theme, there is no post-fixing 's', 'Essentials' is something else.
    3. You are wrong. The number at the end of 'Return to section #' is the section number and not the course id. Hence the preceding word 'section'. It must be a coincidence that in your course the numbers are the same. Therefore as you are wrong there is no confusion as the English is clear, exact and indeed correct in relation to the functionality.
    4. In the current version there is a setting for this.
    5. In later versions, the word 'section' is changed depending of the word coming from the course format for a section, i.e. 'Topic' or 'Week' etc.

    Kind regards,

  • Picture of Mark Davis
    Mon, Apr 18, 2016, 11:02 PM
    Hi Gareth,

    I think I have found a bug with the new "Logo width" option. We have a logo which has a graphic on the far left and the far right and a bunch of white space in between. Before the new "Logo width" option was added, the entire logo would automatically re-size as you shrunk the browser window size, keeping the graphic on the left and right of the logo viewable, just reduced in size. Now with the new "Logo width" option, even if we use "em" instead of "px", when we re-size the browser window, the right graphic of the logo just gets truncated. You can see what I mean by going to ibsvirtual dot cru dot org to see the what old Essentials theme did and core dot cru dot org to see what the updated Essentials theme does to the logo when you shrink your browser window size. Is there any way to fix this (or are we doing something wrong)? Thanks.

  • Gareth J Barnard
    Mon, Apr 18, 2016, 11:16 PM
    Hi Mark,

    I need to think about this.

    Kind regards,

  • Gareth J Barnard
    Mon, Apr 18, 2016, 11:49 PM
    Hi Mark,

    I've raised on myself to document thoughts and think about the issue.

    Kind regards,

  • Picture of Roberto Colatruglio
    Sat, Apr 23, 2016, 2:10 AM
    Hi everyone.

    First of all, thanks for the best theme available. Great features.

    One question: Periodically, our Moodle 3.0 loses the theme configuration at all - showing a Clean Theme similar aspect -.

    Everytime, the reason is that there's a new version of Essential available. So, I have to upgrade it. Also, since I have Spanish as main language, the LANG settings show Español (es_old). So I have to unistall the package, and reinstall the new one, and set it as default language.

    Do you think that{s really an upgrade issue? Something wrong with the PHP version? It seems to be all in place.

    By the way, I have 2 more Moodles with essential, and I've haven't any trouble.

    Please, advise. Regards
  • Gareth J Barnard
    Sat, Apr 23, 2016, 11:12 PM
    Hi Roberto,

    As it is only one instance and there are two others with the issue I have no idea about the upgrade issue, I don't think its theme related. With the lang issue I did not think that 'es_old' was the correct folder name for a language. In any event it is not shipped with Essential so you are safe to keep that folder there when upgrading.

  • Picture of Ronald Balhan
    Thu, May 19, 2016, 5:39 PM
    Great plugin, however I wonder if the following has ever been considered for the slideshow.
    Sometimes I want to re-order the slides on the front-page, just because newer slide 7 is of more importance than the older slide 1, or I want to hide (read skip) some (older) slides. Is this something that is, besides adapting the mdl_config_log table manually, possible in another way. If not, how can I put this on the wish list?
  • Picture of Peter Diedrichs
    Thu, May 19, 2016, 7:35 PM
    Hi, thanks for an excellent theme! I have a suggestion regarding the My Courses menu in the header: It's good that it kan be resticted to show only open courses.
    What would make it great would be the options to:
    - Order courses by their ID (their actual obligatory ID, not the optional one in Settings) and choose "incremented" (0-9) or "decremented" (0-9) order
    - Set a maximum number of courses to be shown.
    Then it would become a quick menu for users with lots of courses, showing only their (for instance) last five courses. This is something my users are REALLY missing in moodle, despite the configurability of their course list on the dashboard page!
  • Gareth J Barnard
    Fri, May 20, 2016, 1:21 AM
    Dear Ronald,

    Interesting proposition. The wish list is here: and would need to be funded.

    Kind regards,

  • Gareth J Barnard
    Fri, May 20, 2016, 1:27 AM
    Dear Peter,

    Interesting idea. This would need to be funded, please see: where I have made a note. I've not worked out the cost yet.

    Kind regards,

  • Picture of Keith Revell
    Sat, May 21, 2016, 1:00 PM
    Hi Gareth,

    Fantastic Theme and thanks for all the great updates and features it truly makes my job a lot easier.

    I have noticed in one of our long quizzes with over 100 questions that in the Quiz Navigation block the question numbers are being truncated to two digits which makes it difficult to jump to selected questions, Is this defined within the theme design and can it be adjusted?

    I am using: Moodle version 3.0.3+ (build 20160317), Essential version (build 2016010206)

    Many Thanks,

  • Gareth J Barnard
    Sat, May 21, 2016, 11:30 PM
    Hi Keith,

    I've raised: - do you notice this with the Clean theme too? Also to expedite the issue, please could you send me a course with a quiz that has 100+ questions so that I can replicate the issue.


  • 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,

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