SMF2.1:Themes and Layout From Online Manual

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Under construction-48.png Work in progress, expect frequent changes. Under construction-48.png

Please see SMF1.1:Themes and Layout, SMF2.0:Themes and Layout or SMF2.1:Themes and Layout depending on the version of SMF you are using.

Themes can provide a different look and feel for a forum, and sometimes for specific boards. A very skilled design can make a forum easier to use, and of course make it look great. Administrators can install and configure as many themes as they would like to provide for their members' comfort and enjoyment. Or they may choose to use only one theme, perhaps as a sense of identity for the forum, like branding.

The more themes you have to manage, the more work is required to maintain them, through upgrades of not just the themes, but upgrades to the core forum program, as well as to any other modifications you might install. Also keep in mind dealing with error messages when some upgrade, or even a changed setting somewhere, suddenly creates some kind of incompatibility. These are all things to be considered when deciding how many themes you want to install.

Admin Center > Configuration > Themes and Layout has four main tabs or sub-menu items: Manage and Install, Theme Settings, Member Options, and Modify Themes.

Manage and Install

On this page, you can download, install, and manage themes. Options for this tab/page are described below, in three sections: Settings, Obtaining Themes, and Install a Theme.


  • Allow members to select their own themes - Check the box if you want to allow your members to choose a theme from two or more themes which you provide for them.
  • Themes that the user is able to select - Click [ Show the list of themes ] to show all the themes currently installed. Check the one or ones which you want your members to be able to use. Any that are not checked, will not be available for members, but administrators can still use them.
  • Overall forum default - Specify the overall forum default theme. This theme will be used for guests, new members, and members who did not choose a theme, including members who specifically chose the default theme for their own.
  • Reset everyone to - You can reset all members to a specific theme, regardless of their theme preference. Note that even when this setting is set to No change, all users that have Forum or Board Default set as their theme in their profile will still have their theme changed when the option, Overall forum default is changed.

Click the Save button in the bottom, right corner of this section, when you finish with those settings.

Obtaining Themes

In this section is a URL text link, which you can click to browse through, preview, search for, and download available themes.

Install a New Theme

This section provides three ways to install a new theme.

  • From an archive - An archive is a compressed file, such a .zip or .tar.gz.
    1. After you have chosen one or more nice themes on the SMF Theme Site, download the archive files to your computer. Be certain that the theme is compatible with your version of SMF. Themes for prior versions of SMF will not work on SMF 2.1. Themes for SMF 2.1 will not work on prior versions.
    2. Click the "Browse" button under "From an archive".
    3. From the pop-up window, navigate to the theme file (still compressed as a .zip or .tar.gz file) on your computer.
    4. Click the Open button, at the bottom, right corner.
    5. Back in SMF, click the Upload button. If all goes well, the installer will tell you that the theme "... was installed successfully." Note that there is no confirmation dialog or Cancel button, so be sure that you want to install it, when you click Upload button.
    6. From your profile, enable the new theme, to test it.
    7. If you have any difficulties with the new theme, switch back to the SMF default theme.
  • Create a copy of Default named -- Use this to create a new copy of the default theme, which you can customize yourself.
    1. In the input field, enter a name for your new theme.
    2. Click the Save button.
  • From a directory on the server -- Use this if the files are not packed into an archive, or have already been unpacked from an archive file.
    1. Make sure the files are still properly arranged in directories, just as SMF expects to find them. Keeping them in subdirectories of your forum's Themes/ directory is the easiest way to do this.
    2. Be certain that these theme files are compatible with your version of SMF, and that they include a file called theme_info.xml (for more on theme_info.xml, please read Packaging a Theme). Themes for prior versions of SMF will not work on SMF 2.1. Themes for SMF 2.1 will not work on prior versions.
    3. Enter the directory location in the field.
    4. Click the Save button.

Theme Settings

Admin Center > Configuration > Themes and Layout > Theme Settings shows a list of all themes currently installed on the forum. On the right side of the page, beside each theme's name are 3 icons. Depending on whatever theme you might be using, these icons will look different. But they all provide the same functions.

The right of those 3 icons, Remove, such as a red X or a trash can icon, removes this theme from your forum. It does not uninstall the theme from the server. It only removes it from the forum. If you want to remove the theme from your server, you will need to use FTP or your server's tools.

The middle of the 3 icons, Disable, disables the theme, but does not remove it.

Clicking the left of the three icons, Settings, displays a page of all the options and settings used by that theme. While these options are generally the same for all themes, they are not identical. You may find options in some themes that are not available in other themes.

Please note: Admin Center > Configuration > Current Theme is considered to be a shortcut to the Settings icon on the Theme Settings page, for the theme you are personally using. While it looks like it should be a free-standing page in the Configuration menu, it opens the same page as the Settings icon on the Theme Settings page, for the theme you are using. So it is a shortcut to your theme's options and settings. There is no shortcut to any other theme's settings.

Following are the descriptions for the Curve 2 default theme's options and settings. Remember that you may find other options if you are setting up other themes, but they are generally the same as these.

  • This Theme's name - This field will be automatically filled with the name of the theme you clicked on. But you can change it if you like.
  • This Theme's URL - This field will also be automatically filled, with the URL of the selected theme's main directory (the address in the browser).
  • This Theme's images URL - This will be automatically filled with the URL of the images directory within that theme's directory. It does not have to be the same theme's directory. Some themes will use images from a different theme resulting in a different location.
  • This Theme's directory - This field is automatically filled with the location of the theme's directory on your server.
  • Logo image URL - If you leave this blank, either your forum's name, or the default logo will be displayed. Otherwise, upload your forum's logo wherever you like, and enter the URL here. Then your forum's logo will be displayed.
  • Site slogan - If you leave this blank, the SMF logo will be displayed. Otherwise, enter a slogan or some kind of text -- "Welcome!", for example.
  • Open Graph image - If you want your forum to be integrated with social media, enter the URL for an image, of the size suggested beside this option's field. Follow the text link "Open Graph" beside the field, to learn more about it.

  • Select default smiley set for this theme - Choose which set you want to use, from the four options in the dropdown menu.

  • Enable random news line in the forum header - If checked, a news item will be shown randomly each time you refresh the page or navigate through the forum. The news items can be configured in Admin > Main > News and newsletters.
  • Show news fader on board index - This will cause the news items to be shown with a fading effect between them.
  • Fading delay between items for the news fader - This sets the amount of time in milliseconds, before the next item is shown, in the news fader.

  • Number of recent posts to display on board index - Here you can set the numbers of recent posts that will be displayed in the forum's main index. Set it to zero to disable this feature.
  • Show statistics on board index - Enabling this will display detailed stats in the Info Center, at the bottom of the forum index page. Statistics such as total topics, total posts, total members, etc. will be shown.
  • Show latest new member on board index - Enabling this will include the latest new member as part of the statistics in the Info Center.
  • Show group key on board index - Enable or disable showing a membergroup color legend in the Users Online section of the Info Center section on the board Index page.
  • Show who is viewing boards and topics - Three options are available to choose from. If you do not like this feature, simply choose Don't show. Otherwise either choose Show only numbers or Show Member names, to show how many members in numbers/names are looking at boards or topics.

When you finish with all the settings, be sure to click the Save button in the bottom, right corner of the page.

If you have questions about options in other themes, you could try visiting the Community Forum. There are special boards set up specifically to provide support for each and every SMF theme. You could search the forum, in case other administrators have asked the same question before. If you do not find a helpful answer, you could post your question in a new topic.

Looking at all the installed themes again, below the title bar containing the theme's name on the left and 3 icons on the right, there is more information about each theme. The same type of information is provided for each theme:

  • Theme directory (templates): - This shows the location of the theme's directory on your server.
  • URL to above directory: - This is the URL of the theme's directory, on the internet.
  • URL to images directory: - This is the URL of the images directory, within the theme's directory.

Finally, below all your themes, at the bottom of this page is a section called Reset Theme URLs and Directories. If you need to move your theme's directories and reset their URLs, for some reason, you can do that here.

Member Options

Admin Center > Configuration > Themes and Layout > Member Options lists all the installed themes. Each theme may have its own custom options for selection by your members. These include things like avatars, signatures, layout options and other similar options. Here you can change the defaults or reset everyone's options.

Please note that some themes may use the default options, in which case they will not have their own options.

The options are organized into three groups, for each installed theme. The first two groups allow you to set or re-set the same options, except they apply to different groups of users. The third group is very different, in that it does not affect individual options -- it changes them all at once. Read more:

  1. Configure guest and new user options for this theme - These are the default values for some member-specific settings. Changing these will only affect new members and guests. Check the box to make the statement next to it true, otherwise the option will not be used. See the options described just a bit below.
  2. Change current options for all members using this theme - These will reset the very same member-specific options, except in this case, for everyone. The options are described a few lines below. They work like this:
    • To change an option, select "Change" from the dropdown menu on the left. Then choose the specific setting you want on the right -- check a box, or not; choose something from a dropdown menu; set a specific value; etc.
    • To use the default, select "Default" from the dropdown menu on the left.
    • Otherwise, select "Don't change" to keep it as-is, whatever it is.
  3. Remove all members' options and use the defaults - Click this to remove any non-default options a user has already selected for the theme they are using. Next to the link you can see the number of members who are using non-default options for that theme. NOTE! One click changes them all at once. Also NO confirmation dialog will be presented before everything is reset. Consider this option carefully before using it!

Here is the description for each of the options available in the first and second groups numbered above.

  • Board and Topic Display
    • Show sub-boards on every page inside boards, not just the first - If you select this, sub-boards (previously called "child boards") will be listed on every page of a board rather then just the first page. A board will have multiple pages when more topics than the defined number of topics per page has been reached.
    • Show most recent posts at the top in topic view - Having this checked will show the newest posts first in a topic and the replies will get older and older as they go along, instead of the typical format, showing the oldest posts first.
    • Don't show users' avatars - Select this to hide the display of members' avatars. This may speed page viewing for those who have a limited internet connection.
    • Don't show users' signatures - To disable the showing of signatures under posts, check this.
    • Hide messages posted by members on my ignore list - If activated, the messages posted by members listed in the user's ignore list will not be displayed. This box is checked by default.
  • Posting
    • Return to topics after posting by default - Check this box if you wish to return members to the post they just submitted instead of returning them to the index of the board in which they posted the topic. This box is checked by default.
    • Don't warn on new replies made while posting - Sometimes when users post a reply, no matter how fast they might be, someone else could post a reply ahead of them. If you leave this box unchecked, they would see a warning after they click Submit, that someone else posted a message while they were typing and composing their reply. It gives users a chance to edit their message before it is posted, to take the other member's comments into consideration. Generally this helps to keep a discussion more smooth and straight-forward.
    • Turn notification on when you post or reply to a topic - When this is checked, whenever a user posts a message, they will be automatically notified when someone else replies to it.
    • Load editor in WYSIWYG mode by default - Checking this will have the What You See Is What You Get style editor shown as the default editor for all members. Note that users can switch back and forth to the editor they want, by clicking the Toggle icon beside the bbcode buttons.
    • Enable automatic saving of drafts - Checking this box automatically saves an unfinished message for users, if the window is closed or browsed away before it is finished.
    • Enable the selection of drafts from the posting screen - If a user has any unfinished drafts, they can see and select them, when they try to post another message. It gives them the opportunity to finish and send them, or to delete them. This option is checked by default.
  • Moderation
    • Show quick-moderation as - Choose whether you wish to show quick moderation boxes on the message index next to each topic, as icons (which would disable the use of mass-moderation), checkboxes or not show them at all.
  • Personal Messages
    • Show a pop-up when I receive new messages - Set this to have a pop-up shown to the user after they receive a new personal message. This option is checked by default.
    • Show most recent personal messages at top - Checking this will show the most recent personal messages on the top, and they will go down as they get older and older.
    • Remove the inbox label when applying another label - With this checked, when a label is applied to a personal message, the inbox label of the personal message will be removed.
  • Calendar
    • Default view on Calendar page - Choose from the dropdown menu, List view, Month view, or Week view.
    • First day of the week on the calendar - Choose which day you want for the first day of the week, from the dropdown menu.
  • Be sure to click the Save button at the bottom, right corner, when you finish making all your choices.

Modify Themes

Here again, is a list of all the themes which have been installed on your forum. This section specifically provides options for modifying the themes directly. You can modify the source codes and/or stylesheets.

Browse the templates and files in this theme - Lists all template files a theme has. You may click on any template file and edit it straight from there.

Edit this theme's style sheet - Shows the theme's style sheet. There is a built in preview of the theme you are editing and you can see what the changes would look like before you even save the changes.

Copy a template from the Theme this is based on - Here you can select a template file that the Theme is based on (usually the default SMF theme) and copy it over to the theme.

Please note:It is NOT recommended to use any of those three links to edit the theme. First, the text editor provided in those sections does not make backups for you. And second, the edits that you make there are automatic and live. So a wrong edit might break the forum, and you will not have a backup file to fix it. Instead, (1) make your own backup file before you start, (2) use your own text editor to make the edits, (3) upload them to your server, and (4) if the edits caused a problem, use your backup file to fix it.