Office 365-SharePoint site based on custom template – ‘Change the look’ and its missing themes issue

SharePoint sites have loads of out of the box apps and workflow process to be associated with them. Once you customize and add loads of those same custom apps to meet your site users day to day usage needs, and see that the apps in your sites are super effective and those same can be resued in other user’s sites as well, you can

  • Save your site as template with(or without) contents, which in turn adds the .wsp file to your site collections solution gallery
  • Now all you have to do is create new sites using that custom template and everybody lives happily sharepointing there after…

Errr…sorta, provided their sites are in the same site collection, wait..what? Why?

Well, technically I suppose one could still happily SharePoint ever after if they don’t care about the fancy themes and wants to change their sites look. But for those creative site owners, this blog post should help fix the bug(or a minor nuisance) in SharePoint online sites post creation based on their custom templates.

To change the look of your site what you do is go to your Gear icon > change the look as seen in the pic below. But, whats not seen in the pic below are the several Themes that come with Office 365  SharePoint sites. All you see is just on called ‘current’


Why do you see just one theme?

When you create a site from a custom saved template, the template site’s contents have themes URLs associated with them that point to the site collection that this subsite was template in. Makes perfect sense when you create the subsite based on the template in that very site collection, everything is wonderful and working.

But, when you upload your site template solution to another site collection and create a site based on that template. Problems happen, links get broken, themes disappear and your creative designs are not welcomed. Unless, you take the pain and do whatever it takes to fight and get your themes back. Its your right!


So…now that you know the keyword links and broken it doesn’t take a rocket scientist brain to figure out that there must be some URL with hyperlinks pointed to the different site collection which is the rootcause of the issue. All it takes is advanced googling and binging skills and a couple of espressos. Since the issue is with Change the look, to get to the list that has all the ‘looks’ you desire changing and to resolve the issue follow the below steps

Gear Icon > Site Settings > (Web Designer Galleries) Composed looks (list: You can see all the hyperlinks that point to the previous site collection references in the columns for Master Page URL, Theme URL, Font Scheme URL) These need to be updated to point to the current site’s site collection themes.


  •  Select LIST from the ribbon. Export the list to excel for replacing the hyperlinks to point to the correct site collections name.
  • Find All and Replace with the right URL
  • You can open a site in the existing collection where your themes/change the look work correctly and note down the URL section to be replaced and apply those in the exported Composed list in excel. 


  •  Create a new Datasheet View in the composed looks list and call it ThemeFix(or ‘ninja warrior fixing the broken link in the SharePoint site template view’…it’s totally up to you! I am not picky and neither is your list.)
  •  Copy the columns with updated URLs from your spreadsheet and paste it in ThemeFix columns in Edit 


  • STOP editing the list.

Now go back to Gear Icon > Change the look > VOILA!

You can now Change the look for your SharePoint Online sites with all the out of the box custom themes!



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