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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 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:


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

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 Jennifer Hoyte
    Mon, Oct 3, 2016, 5:52 AM
    Thanks but I found the problem. There were some php extensions that were not installed, in particular the MBSTRINGS one. In case anyone else runs into this, you can see which extensions are needed in moodle by looking under Site Administration -> Server -> Environment.
  • Picture of Mindaugas Cerniauskas
    Wed, Oct 5, 2016, 1:51 PM
    I have a problem sad When update to this template new version, my categories is in one line. There is about 20 categories and you must scroll not up down, but from left to right sad

  • Gareth J Barnard
    Wed, Oct 5, 2016, 6:59 PM
    Dear Mindaugas,

    I need some more information please in order to be in a position to replicate the problem. Therefore, please post on the themes forum ( a screen shot of the issue, Moodle and Essential version and Browser used with version.


  • Picture of michell mejia
    Thu, Oct 6, 2016, 12:36 AM
    HI in your last upddate MY LIST OF CATEGORIES FOLDERS expanded along the screen
  • Gareth J Barnard
    Thu, Oct 6, 2016, 12:42 AM
    Hi Michell,

    Please read:

    Kind regards,

    Tue, Oct 11, 2016, 2:50 PM
    Hello !! Could Gareth or any of you help me add social icons in the footer of the theme the same way as shown in the header?
    Thank you in advance
  • Gareth J Barnard
    Tue, Oct 11, 2016, 4:20 PM
    Hi Hugo,

    I'd be happy to if you'd be willing to pay for my time, as this is bespoke customisation work.

    Kind regards,

  • Picture of Gareth Catherwood
    Mon, Oct 17, 2016, 6:13 PM

    I have upgraded the theme today to fix the scroll issue with 'My Courses' but the update has caused a problem with the dropdown menu I created in the 'Custom Menu Items' Before it had an arrow with various sub heading etc but now it has a scrollbar on the right and bottom so the menu cannot be displayed properly. Is there an easy fix for this? Thanks for your help!
  • Gareth J Barnard
    Mon, Oct 17, 2016, 7:07 PM
    Hi Gareth,

    That issue has been reported, fixed and will be released soon:

    Kind regards,

  • Picture of Zak Stoimenov
    Thu, Oct 20, 2016, 1:32 PM
    Hi Gareth,

    Thanks for keeping the Essential theme as awesome as always.

    May I propose an improvement to the Themes/Essential/Colour menu. Can you add a collapsable separation between the different colour themes? With the expansion of the customisation options, it is really hard to locate the colour(s) that you are working on.

  • Picture of Cris Valenzuela
    Thu, Oct 20, 2016, 1:52 PM
    Hi Gareth,

    Thanks for updating the Essential Theme,

    However, we find some issue that when I open the "Browse List of Users" and try to open the Profile of a user, the page shows only the Header part, the left navigation, the main content of the page and the footer is not loading.

    Thanking you in advance.
  • Picture of Cris Valenzuela
    Thu, Oct 20, 2016, 1:59 PM
    Hi Gareth,

    Another issue pertaining to the Question bank, when you open "Questions" under "Question bank" the whole page is not loading.

  • Picture of Cris Valenzuela
    Thu, Oct 20, 2016, 2:57 PM
    Hi Gareth,

    Just found this error message when I view the profile of a user.

    "Fatal error: Cannot redeclare analytics_trackurl() (previously declared in /home/elearningriyadh/public_html/theme/essential/layout/tiles/guniversal.php:33) in /home/elearningriyadh/public_html/local/analytics/piwik.php on line 64"

  • Gareth J Barnard
    Fri, Oct 21, 2016, 3:07 AM
    Hi Cris,

    Please post screen shots, version information and full details of how to replicate each issue in the themes forum ->

  • Gareth J Barnard
    Fri, Oct 21, 2016, 3:10 AM
    Hi Zak,

    Do you mean the menu or the settings?

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