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 forĀ  WordPress consulting services feel free to contact me


  1. Aug 26th, 2014

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

  2. JW
    Aug 1st, 2014

    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.

  3. Mar 18th, 2014

    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

      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
        3 weeks ago

        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
          2 weeks ago

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

  4. Mar 16th, 2014 la mejor opcion para compra de fans

  5. need help
    Feb 18th, 2014

    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.

  6. Feb 10th, 2014

    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.

  7. Jan 18th, 2014

    good sir thanks this will help me in my work

  8. Jan 15th, 2014

    I tried "Theme Test Drive" and expected to try all different Options in the tested Theme without any influence to the active Theme. After a lot of testing a switched off Theme Test Drive an looked back to my blog. With some kind of angryness i realized, that all changings in Menues, Sidebars, Widgets in the tested Theme now also was changed in my aktive Theme. It took a few hours to rebuild my blog.

    Did i do something wrong with Theme Test Drive ?

    I`e newbee in blogging and would appreciate some detailed help in this question.

    Perhaps there is even a german speaking guy to answer me ?

    • Jan 27th, 2014

      Ditto that - happened to me to. :(

    • RIchard
      Feb 17th, 2014

      When you test a theme and change menus, widgets, posts/pages, custom post types, those things affect every theme. All the theme test drive does is change the theme look, it doesn't create a clone of all content (posts/menus/widgets/etc).

  9. Nick
    Nov 8th, 2013

    just rated this useful plugin with 5 star in WP.
    Feature request: ability to set individual user access level to the test driven theme.

  10. Sep 22nd, 2013

    I installed and tried to use. Didnt work. Problem now is it created a ' Broken Theme - Uploads - Missing Stylesheet....
    So now my site when trying to view portfolio pages comes up with 404 error.

    Help Please Urgent

  11. Jul 25th, 2013

    Nice One I Luv this plugin ! It Helpful to me!

  12. Jun 22nd, 2013

    I am using this plugin. But after installing this plugin, I am encountering following issue.

    When I enable the plugin, the media library under add media on post, set feature image, upload new image works fine. However, if I disable the plugin, then images present in media library dont show in Add Media, Set featured Image also does not load existing images and the image upload always fails.

    I have change permission to upload folder and that has not fixed the issue. Uninstalling the plugin also does not fix the issue.

    Thanks for the help.

  13. Jun 10th, 2013

    Great plugin! Than you!! Works like charm :)

  14. Mar 19th, 2013

    I have tested a theme and really like it using the Test Drive plugin. How do I activate this plugin? I do not see an activation button like I did in the past?

  15. Jrf
    Mar 13th, 2013

    Hi Vladimir, Thanks for this plugin! I'm not sure whether and if you check the WP fora, but I just reported a bug (fix included!) at Hope this helps!


  16. Feb 15th, 2013

    I recently installed this plugin, and am loving how easy it is to test the theme.

    BUT, it appears it is interfering somehow with google analytics? Since I installed it, our bounce rate went from 50% to < 1%, our pages per visit doubled, and our pageviews almost doubled as well? Anyone else experience anything like this?

    Using the most current version of everything, wordpress, google analytics yoast plugin, and most recent version of this plugin.


  17. Jul 14th, 2012


    I have been converting my Headway 2.0.13 site to 3.2.3. I use flash animation in my header which changes from page to page. I figured out how to use the Custom code block below the header to recreate the same look I had using Easy Hooks in 2.0.13. So far so good.

    The flash displays in the 3.2.3 visual editor, but not in the live site, when I click from the 3.2.3 dashboard. Is this due to Theme Test Drive? When I finally switch over to HW 3.2.3 will I see the site as it is rendering in the VE?

    Very handy plug-in, BTW. Thanks.


  18. donny
    Apr 10th, 2012

    Hi I just saw this plugin and i had a quick question.. I am going to be using a under construction template thats a theme but I will be building a site on a different theme.. how can I keep the under construction theme page up but still edit and get my site while its under construction?? will this allow me to do that still??

    • Aug 6th, 2012

      Donny, might be too late now, but two comments:

      1) Yes, Theme Test Drive should allow you to keep your "under construction" theme live to the general public while you work on the future theme. The future theme will only be visible to people who are logged-in and have administrator level rights (unless you change the setting to allow lower-ranking users to also see the "test drive" theme).

      2) Another option, if you're going to basically "close off" your entire site during the design phase, is to simply install a plugin called "Maintenance Mode." It creates a page that will completely "cover" your site to the general public, while you still get to see your "real" theme as long as you're logged in.

  19. Mar 20th, 2012

    I really like this Theme , this will help me in my work.

  20. Andrew
    Feb 25th, 2012

    Really nice work. It helps a lot. This way I can work on a theme color without worry.

  21. Copper
    Feb 14th, 2012

    Awaiting the answer to the plugin update. However, the temporary solution I found was in (1) backing up my site & (2) "downgrading" my WP to "3.3" ... this allowed the "Theme Test Drive" to work (working a lil weird but working).

  22. Copper
    Feb 14th, 2012

    Hi, Luv your plugin!
    I've had an issue running Theme Test Drive with WordPress 3.3.1
    When will you be upgrading?

  23. Dec 1st, 2011

    i finish my test
    when e active the theme that i tested, i loose all my setting in this theme, what i must to do?

    • Christine
      May 4th, 2012

      Did you get an answer for this question? I'm having the same issue... When I activate it, I loose all the settings I did when I built it. If I click the preview button --it shows it properly... but it seems to loose it when I activate. Need help!

  24. Jul 19th, 2011

    Like Jacobo, I installed this plugin, activated and following the instructions to upload the new Studiopress Enterprise theme for testing.... but it uploaded to my live site!!!!!.... nice... thank goodness for backups... maybe I did something wrong but whatever, be warned especially if like my, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing!

  25. Jul 14th, 2011

    I really like this Theme , this will help me in my work.

    • Dec 13th, 2011

      Vorrei vedere come indenta le risposte ai commenti (se lo fa) prima di installarlo.

Have your say

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *


  • ManageWP