A client recently asked if they could install the same theme twice in WordPress to build and test different looks using the same theme. Yep, you can do that, and here’s how:
Download the zip file of the theme that is the same version as the one you are using from the theme provider. OR you can download the theme files from your site via FTP if you have access. This is a good option if you’ve already made changes to the theme you’d like to see carried out on both test themes going forward.
If you download the theme from your FTP site it won’t be a compressed ZIP file. You’ll have to right-click on the folder and compress it (in Windows the command is “send to” for whatever reason). To upload and install a theme in WordPress you have to use a .zip file so this isn’t optional. Also, you will have to rename the zip file, just add a “2” to the theme file name, or “test”, something to differentiate it from the existing theme.
In WordPress > Appearance > Themes you have the option to upload a theme right at the very top, click that, and navigate and select your newly renamed .zip theme file. Upload it. You now can switch between the same theme!
Step 4 Optional
Even though you renamed the .zip file, that doesn’t rename the theme in WordPress. To do that, go to Appearance > Editor. You’ll need to select the theme on the right-hand side pulldown menu “Select Theme to Edit“. The stylesheet.css file is the one you want to edit and it’s simply a matter of changing the second line to “Theme Name: yournewthemenamehere” and saving those edits (scroll down for the save button). You may want to rename the original them too, to have a 1 in the theme name, now that you know how and to help you keep things straight while you do your theme versioning tests.
That’s it. Done. One thing to remember, changes you make WON’T carry between at this point, so if there is a change you’d like to see in both themes you’ll have to make the changes to both themes. Happy theming!