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One of the things that attracted me to WordPress initially, and probably still my favorite part of WordPress, is the ability to add themes at a moment's notice and change the entire look and feel of your site. Inside of a WordPress Multisite Installation, this is no different. As a matter of fact it's even more fun because you can have different themes for each site that you create. You can also install themes and enable them network-wide, meaning that everything has a consistent look and feel. This is perfect for branding or making sure everything is as consistent as you need it to be.
In this movie we are going to be taking a look at how to install themes inside of the Network Admin Dashboard and then how to enable them site-wide so that your users can then activate them anytime they need to. The first thing I need to do is go over here to the Themes section. If I just click on Themes it takes me right here to the Themes section of the WordPress Dashboard. By the way, I'm still logged in as a network administrator. You have to be logged in as a network administrator in order to get to the screen. Here, you will notice all of the themes that I have, which ones that are enabled, and if any are disabled.
If I go to Enabled, it filters out the ones that are there. If I go to Disabled it shows me the other one. In this case it's just the default 2011 and 2010 themes that ship with WordPress. If I want to make the 2010 theme available to all of my sites I can simply hit Network Enable. In this case I don't think I am going to use it, so I'm just going to go ahead and choose Delete. Once I delete, it's telling me that this theme may be active on other sites in my network. However, I know this is a fresh install of WordPress Multisite so I know I am not using it anyway.
I will go ahead and say, "yeah, go ahead delete the theme." Once I do that, you are going to notice I'm still here on my Themes Dashboard with the only one theme that I have installed, Twenty Eleven. Let's take a look now at how we can install a new theme. I will simply go up to the top and choose Add New. Inside of WordPress you can search their vast database of themes. There's literally thousands of free themes that are available to you. You can also purchase themes at premium theme marketplaces across the web. I will talk about some of those in a minute.
Let's go ahead and take a look at a free theme. So right here I am just going to type in photo, because I am running a photo blog. I hit Search. Once I click Search, WordPress returns to meet any results that match the criteria that I put here. In this case it's photo. I am going to go ahead and go with the Modularity Lite theme. It's a pretty cool template. If I want to see the theme, I can simply click Details. This tells me it's at version 1.3, who the author is, and what star rating it has. It's got four out of five.
That's pretty good. I can also click on the theme and it gives me a live preview of what it's going to look like on my web site. In this case it's pretty basic, but this hasn't been customized in any way. If you read the theme description it tells me I can customize the header image and a lot of other stuff. So I am going to go with this theme. I will click the X to close, and then I will click the Install button directly beneath it. Once I click Install, it's going to ask me one more time, are you sure? I go ahead and say, "yeah, install it." It automatically downloads it from wherever the theme was located, unpacks it, and installs it into WordPress.
I then have the ability to make it available network-wide. If I don't make it available network-wide, then nobody is going to be able to use it. I will go ahead and say, "Yes, Network Enable." Once it's been network enabled, it's now available to anybody inside of my network running a site. So if I wanted to activate this theme on the base domain, I simply come up here to My Sites, find the original domain, and choose Dashboard. Inside of the Dashboard panel I'll go to Appearance and I'll choose Themes.
Inside of the Themes panel you'll notice the 2011 theme is what we had activated by default. If I scroll down I can then activate the Modularity theme. There we go. The new theme has been activated and now if I went to my site there's the new theme active. If I go back to the Dashboard and visit the tutorial site, you will notice here it is still using the 2011 standard WordPress theme.
That's because we didn't go into the site Dashboard for this site and enable the other theme. As a matter of fact, I'm going to use two different themes for both of these sites. So let's close this up, and let's close this up, and we will go back into the Dashboard. First thing I am going to do is choose My Sites > Network Admin and choose Dashboard. I'll go back underneath Themes and I'll choose Add New. In this case I want to add a theme that's not inside of the WordPress Repository. This theme is on a web site.
So let's take a look at how I can put this theme into my WordPress installation. I am going to navigate over to a site called press75.com which has several multimedia-centric themes available to you. A lot of them are paid themes, but some of them are actually free. So I am going to scroll down and find a theme called Side Blog. Once I find the Side Blog theme, I can choose Live Demo and just like WordPress.org it shows me a live preview of the theme. It's going to be perfect for tutorials. So once I find this, I can go back, scroll down again to find a Side Blog theme, and go to Theme Info.
You will notice on the right-hand side there is a link that says Free Download. I will choose that and it downloads the theme for me. Now I will go ahead and navigate back to my Dashboard and this time instead of searching for a theme, I'll choose Upload. It asks me to select a file. I will find the Side Blog zip file, open it up, and click Install Now. Once it has been installed, I can choose Network Enable. So now it's available to all of the sites on my network.
Let's go back to My Sites and choose the PhotoBlog Tutorials and I will hit Dashboard. Once I hit Dashboard, I can go to Appearance > Themes. Inside of the Themes section, Side Blog is now available to me. I will hit Activate. Now that theme has been activated. If I go back here and choose Visit Site, there's my new PhotoBlog Tutorials. If I go back to My Sites in the original domain. go to its Dashboard, I can visit that site as well.
So here's my original site and the PhotoBlog site. They're both running the same installation of WordPress, but they're both distinctly different because I have changed the theme on both of them. Let's close these back up and return to the Network Admin screen. So as you can see, it's pretty easy to install and enable themes for all of your sites in your WordPress Multisite Installation. This is a great way to create some distinction between each one of your individual sites or a great way to maintain consistency as well if you want to deploy the same theme to all of your sites.
It's totally up to you, and that's why you're the network admin; you get control over everything. So take some time, find the themes that work for you, and then start putting them to use inside of your Multisite Installation.
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