Overview of the Tabs in Joomla’s Template Manager - dummies

Overview of the Tabs in Joomla’s Template Manager

By Seamus Bellamy, Steve Holzner

Joomla’s Template Manager has two tabs at the top left of the page: The Styles tab and the Templates tab. When you install a template in Joomla, it is added to the Templates tab and one style entry is added to the Styles tab.

Styles Tab in Joomla Template Manager

Styles contain configurable parameters for a template. Each template you install to your Joomla site can have a number of styles. Some styles will come as part of a template’s installation. Other styles will be the result of your own hard work. This provides a great deal of visual flexibility to your Joomla site.

The Styles tab lists all of the template styles that are available for use on your Joomla site. Not all of the styles, however, are meant to be used on your Joomla site’s front end. This fact is reflected in the column marked Location, which breaks the styles down into two categories:

  • Site templates tell your site’s front end how to format the content visible to your site’s visitors.

  • Administrator templates are designed to tell Joomla how to format the back-end pages of your site.

Joomla’s default installation comes with a very limited number of Site and Administrator templates. As you spend more time working with Joomla, you may collect a large number of templates from various free and paid sources.

With so many templates in your collection, it may become difficult to locate a particular one. Fortunately, the Template Manager has the same built-in search functionality as the rest of the Joomla back end. Also near the top of the page, you can see the Filter field, which allows administrators to search for templates by name.

To the right of the Filter field and associated search button are two drop-down menus. Choosing a filter setting from the Template drop-down menu allows you to view templates from a given template series. Picking Site or Administrator from the Location drop-down menu enables you to filter templates by where they appear on your Joomla site: the front end or the back end.


Why does Joomla have two sets of templates: Site and Administrator? The reason is that this arrangement is meant to save you from the problems a dysfunctional template can cause if you install it. If you install a template that has serious problems (and a few like that are out there), your site may be unreadable. How could you change back to the previous template?

That’s why the Site and Administrator templates are different. Even if you mess up your site with an unworkable template, the back end will still be fine, with either the Bluestork or Hathor template still purring along. You can use Template Manager to change the site template back to one that works.

The Hathor template was designed with accessibility in mind. Hathor’s dark blue color scheme was chosen specifically by template designer Andrea Tarr to allow site administrators with accessibility issues, such as extremely poor eyesight, to comfortably build and maintain a Joomla site.

Template Tab in Joomla Template Manager

The Template tab acts as a showcase for all of the templates installed on your Joomla site. By scrolling down the page, you can see a thumbnail picture of what each template will look like. You can also see the version of the template, whether the template is for the Site or the Administrator sections of your Joomla installation, and who you can thank for putting such a great looking template together.


One of the best features of the Template tab is that it provides you with the ability to delve into the CSS file of any of the templates you’ve installed onto your Joomla site. To gain access to a template’s CSS file via the Template Manager’s Templates tab, click the Details link, located directly adjacent to the template’s preview image.