Remove WordPress Child Theme Orphans

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Child themes are the only way to customize WordPress themes, unless you are building your own unique custom WordPress theme that will never be updated through the WordPress Theme repository.

If you ignore this advice, then you will lose any customizations whenever you update the parent theme. I’ve spoken before about the importance of child themes, and the usefulness of Orbisius plugin. My review of Orbisius is coming soon. This is not really relevant today, as I am explaining how to remove WordPress child theme orphans, and Orbisius does not help.

What are WordPress Child Theme Orphans?

A WordPress child theme orphan is simply a child theme in your WordPress installation that does not have a parent theme. These show up in your list of themes under Admin-Appearance as:

Broken Themes

The following themes are installed but incomplete. Themes must have a stylesheet and a template.

Name Description
WordPress Default Child 01 The parent theme is missing. Please install the “default” parent theme.

The name of the erroneous child theme will vary according to your installation, but do not worry about that. My process for removing the orphan child theme works for all WordPress themes.

Prepare to Remove WordPress Child Theme Orphans

Please note that this removal method is completely destructive. If you want to keep your child theme, then to access it, all you need to do is reinstall the parent.

If you are not sure if you want to keep the child theme, go to Admin-Appearance-Editor then select the child theme from the dropbox near the top right of the page and click the Select button. Use the list of files on the right to browse the contents of your child theme.

As with all changes to your WordPress installation, you should take a backup before you proceed.

Remove WordPress Child Theme Orphans

This is a simple way to remove child theme orphans without the “official” procedure of:

  1. Re-install parent theme
  2. Delete child theme(s)
  3. Delete parent theme

If you are not familiar with editing WordPress themes, that method is the best way, but there is a quicker way if you are confident.

  1. Identify the filename of an existing theme. The current default is twentyfourteen. Note that this is the file name, not the Theme Name: Twenty Fourteen. I find the easiest way to establish the filename is to use the Live Preview, or hover over the file name list in the Editor. In both case, the link preview shows ?theme=filename at the end of the URL
  2. Use Admin-Appearance-Editor and select the orphan child theme name
  3. Edit the line: Template: default changing the missing parent name (default in this example) to the filename of an existing theme.
  4. Return to the list of themes, and delete the unwanted orphan

If you need help with any aspect of WordPress themes, please ask in Shrewdies Make A Website Network