When creating a custom Control Panel theme, with the help of an override.css file, the easiest way is to make a copy of the default theme's image folder and put that in your theme directory. Then, make changes to the images located in that folder.

If you like to give away or sell a custom theme, how do you distribute the images folder (since I guess all icons not changed by you is licensed by EllisLab) and still make it a easy install?

  • Christofer, was there a correct answer to this question posted?
    – Anna_MediaGirl
    Dec 12, 2012 at 5:14
  • 1
    Yes, I marked Carl's answer as the correct one since that is how it's supposed to work. It seems like (most of) the problems that we used to have is gone too so that's probably the best way to do it. Dec 18, 2012 at 13:39

3 Answers 3


As I understand it, the principle over the override is that you only include files/images and include changes - the rest are inherited from the parent (default) theme.

Therefore, you don't need to include all of EL images with it.

  • Yes, that would be ideal. But you used to get problems with broken images in certain situations that way if I remember correctly. But that issue might be gone. Looking trough a couple of themes on Devot-ee it seems like most people still bundle a complete image folder (with both changed and original files) with their theme so I thought that it still might be a problem... Nov 15, 2012 at 22:13

I can't speak to the legality of distributing the images from the default CP theme. I'd say that's a question to pose to EllisLab directly.

But you can add an override.css to piggy-back off the default CP theme styles and images. That's how the NSM Override.css theme works.

Since NSM Override v1.2.0, they store all CSS and images in a separate folder, themes/cp_themes/nsm_override. To install it you to only add one line, an @import rule, to the override.css file in the default theme folder:

@import url("../../nsm_override/css/screen.css");
  • 1
    In branding EE sites, this has been the methodology I've used a few times. It has the benefit of also being quite portable - as you install new sites, you only need to mind a few core graphics in a seperate cp_themes folder.
    – Holland
    Nov 16, 2012 at 8:56

We use 'Default' as our control panel theme and override it. We keep the same theme on all of our clients sites, and often make improvements and enhancements to it.

To aid with this, we adopt the NSM_override method of simply importing an external CSS file from override.css but go a step further by actually hosting it elsewhere (in our case a special domain where we keep this kind of stuff).

@import url("http://topsecret.com/custom_cp/loader.css");

This way it takes seconds to add to a new site and all of our sites get improvements at once.

It's never popped up, but if a client wanted their own bespoke changes we would probably import our loader.css as normal but then continue our overrides below, so for example....

@import url("http://topsecret.com/custom_cp/loader.css");

body {
    background: green;

All of this is a round-about way of saying that you don't need to comply with the EE file structure to manage your custom themes. You can continue to use EllisLab's images by simply referencing their standard location or you can use your own. Because everybody has 'Default' there's no need to re-distribute.

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