Theme Test Drive

Theme Test Drive WordPress plugin allows you to safely test drive any theme on your blog as administrator, while visitors still use the default one. It happens completely transparently and they will not even notice you run a different theme for yourself. Best part is you can even set the testing theme options (if it has them) in the Admin panel while you are testing the theme.

Since version 2.0 Theme Test Drive features instant theme preview using a website thumbnail service.

You can also preview any theme by adding "?theme=xxx" to your blog URL. For example (theme name is case-sensitive!)

For all questions about the plugin please visit my WordPress forums.


Installation & Usage

  1. Upload the plugin folder to your /wp-content/plugins/ folder.
  2. Go to the Plugins page and activate the plugin.
  3. Use the Options page to set the theme you want to test drive.

The selected theme will be visible only to blog administrator. Other visitors of the site will always see the default theme.

Note: if you use WP-Cache plugin, you might need to disable it (or setup to exclude pages)


v2.6: Added user access level


  • Instant theme preview using a live thumbnail preview
  • Added "?theme=xxx" to your URL's to preview the desired theme. Example

Nov 29th, 2007 v1.0
* Initial release

Visit my other interesting WordPress Plugins or my WordPress theme Amazing Grace.

If you are looking for  WordPress consulting services feel free to contact me


  1. Mar 3rd, 2016 9:34 PM

    Great...not! I am frustrated now. I used the plugin to test and create a new template. That worked great! I made dozens of changes and
    it looked grate. Than i tried to activate it....nothing. I don's understand HOW to activate the new template. So i tried several things.
    Now the original site is completely scrambled gone... and the new template is stil in default. And al my changes are gone too.

    So please tell me in clear English how to make the new template active including all the changes.

    For example: What do you mean with "Enter the URL to the theme zip file and click Install theme." I don't know that url!!! I don't know where WordPress saves the theme. I don't care too. I just want to activate it.

    So thank you for destroying my website.... sorry. I'm a bit frustrated... I'm writing this just after it happend.

    I advice other users to be very careful when using it.

  2. Troy
    Feb 6th, 2016 11:17 AM

    Vielen Dank!!!
    erstaunliche Liste hier, aber ich möchte mehr Plugin hinzuzufügen, die frei und wesentlich Plugin sind.
    Werfen Sie einen Blick unter: http: //

  3. lorena
    Sep 8th, 2015 8:02 PM


    I can´t download the Theme test drive plugin - the link does not work anymore


  4. Herbert
    Sep 4th, 2015 10:07 AM


    where can I download the Theme test drive plugin - the link does not work anymore

  5. reboot
    Aug 31st, 2015 4:56 PM

    Great Plugin! Is there a reaseon why it is no longer at

  6. TP
    Aug 23rd, 2015 12:39 AM

    The plugin is no longer on

    Any way to download this otherwise?

  7. Flemming
    Jul 13th, 2015 5:55 PM

    Is it possible to use Theme Test Drive on a new version of active theme?
    I have AAA theme activated - before I upload and activate a new version of AAA theme, I want to use theme Test Drive to make some changes.

    Is the possible?

  8. Jun 18th, 2015 3:51 AM

    Hello! great plugin i just have one question.

    when I enable the plugin and go to customize I find the new theme but full of the widgets and the menu of the "oficial" theme. there is any possibility to work in the new theme from scratch with out the setting from the current theme?


  9. May 18th, 2015 2:13 AM

    How do I get my widgets to come back? They disappeared.

  10. Apr 24th, 2015 10:32 PM

    So far so good with the installation and performance of your plugin. This was something that I really needed. I never understood why people create launch pages but don't have a feature where developers and admins can still access their site and do their thing. It's a much needed feature, and so far it works well.

    Thank you

  11. Ken
    Mar 23rd, 2015 1:14 AM

    Great plugin!!!

    Is there a way to restrict the view to only a *specific* administrator or ip address?

    If not, it would be a great feature to include!


  12. Mar 10th, 2015 5:51 AM


    I installed your plugin and I found myself not knowing what to do now. Pardon my ignorance. I'm new to WordPress. On the settings it seems to say what it needs to say. I selected the theme I want to test it on.
    This website is live but when I do changes I need the customers approval before making those changes live. How do I proceed on using your plugin? Is there an specific URL address that I need to send my customer for them to see the changes? I'm confused.

    • gigi
      Mar 10th, 2015 6:53 PM

      I don't know if anyone else has replied, but I had the same problem. I'm fairly new to WP too. You can only see the test drive if you're logged in to WordPress. The public sees the live page. You can build the new site behind the scenes, but if you want client's approval, you have to figure out the best way for them to see it. Either they log in to WP from their own computers; they can view it from your screen - at your desk or shared via a share app like, or you can take screen shots and send them along.

      My client didn't want to log in to WP, so I did the other two, and it worked out fine. :)

  13. Feb 25th, 2015 5:18 PM

    Hi. I am working on a site for someone at the moment. They have a custom theme currently. I want to keep their site, and that theme live, while I work in the background on the site with a new theme I want to install. I have installed your plugin. Now, can I upload a new theme and work on it, while the current theme and site remain live?

    Thank you,

    Michael Barry

  14. Jan 31st, 2015 1:54 AM

    Does this not work with WP-Cache? Would love to incorporate this into our WP site.

  15. lbx
    Jan 20th, 2015 8:58 AM

    Hello , I need theme demo site features, like the ability to increase wordpress-theme-demo-bar the same features ? You can charge ! Thank you

  16. Nov 23rd, 2014 4:50 PM

    Very nice plugin was looking for it. Will install and test my theme.

  17. Oct 10th, 2014 5:55 PM

    Hi - I've been using your themetest plug-in quite successfully but now I need to start the process of switching it over to the live site. First, I have to set a static front page (in Headway) and I want to make sure I'm not changing the live site at the same time. Perhaps a stupid question, but I have to be certain!

    (I would have searched for this in the comment threads, but there's no search function.)

    Thanks very much,


  18. Oct 10th, 2014 9:31 AM

    It says "The Test Drive is enabled" for the theme I want to use in my site re-design. However, when I click on Appearance > Customize to actually start working on the new theme for my redesign/relaunch, it's blank. How can I work on customizing the theme I'm test driving without that page?

  19. Oct 9th, 2014 11:37 PM

    Hi I downloaded the plugin so I can change the old website made by the previous person. When I activated the plugin and changed the menu, the menu was included in the old site. Is there a way, I can work on the new website without it showing on the old site?
    I am new to this and I appreciate any help


  20. Aug 26th, 2014 10:06 PM

    This may be a silly question - but where can I find the options page in step 3? Cheers!

  21. JW
    Aug 1st, 2014 8:36 PM

    It would be great if you added a feature that only allowed a specific user, or set of users, to see the new previewed theme. This way the site owner (updating their live site) could be excluded while a developer is getting the new theme ready.

  22. Mar 18th, 2014 8:59 AM

    I have been using the test drive plugin to test weaver theme. I made lots of customizations. Is there a way to switch my site to this theme, now without losing all the work i did to set it up to see if my content would work on that theme? Or will i have to install weaver fresh and start over when i switch my theme?

    • Beth
      Jun 26th, 2014 7:43 PM

      I have the same question! I also see others have inquired previously, last year and in 2011, without reply. I hope someone has an answer, as I spent a lot of time viewing, selecting, and customizing a theme using the plug in. I would love to simply activate what I've done rather than do all the work again, and try to remember all that I did!

      • brittany
        Sep 16th, 2014 5:39 PM

        I have the same question. Did you ladies find out if there is a simple way to switch without having to install then do all the customization again?

        • beboo
          Sep 21st, 2014 7:27 AM

          me too!! Please help someone!! Did any of you guys figure this out? Please post

  23. Mar 16th, 2014 3:23 AM la mejor opcion para compra de fans

  24. need help
    Feb 18th, 2014 4:37 AM

    I downloaded the plug in AND installed the plug in and when I seleted (enable) this error message pops up! I can not see anything! Not my previous theme, website, this comes up everytime! PLEASE HELP ME FIX THIS!!

    500 Internal Server Error

    The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.

    Please contact the server administrator, and inform them of the time the error occurred, and anything you might have done that may have caused the error.

    More information about this error may be available in the server error log.

  25. Feb 10th, 2014 7:11 PM

    I downloaded your plugin because i was interested in trying a new theme and customizing it before I go live. I followed your options page and in the usage I put the name of the NEW theme and enabled it by clicking the enable button at the bottom. I then went and opened a NEW page in my browser just to verify that my old theme was still As I had it, but, it did not work. The new theme was there and, of course all was wrong. I went in again and disabled the them and restored the old theme and all was back - well almost. Some of the plugins in my widgets were erased (the one I use for translation) and I had to redo the whole thing. How do I make it work? It should have worked but I do not know if I did it correctly. I am still king of newbie here.

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