I would like to switch admin themes from a core theme (seven) to a custom sub-theme so I can add some customization without hacking core.

When I install the new sub-theme it creates all the block placement settings and leaves them header or content. I haven't changed any regions between the two themes, and just want to copy all the blocks from the seven theme to the current theme. I know I can check block settings with block plugin manager (plugin.manager.block) but I don't know what blocks to edit. I would like to know how to get a list of all the blocks from the old theme and copy all the placement to new theme programmatically.


You can entity query your relevant block config then create a cloned entity object via Block::createDuplicateBlock() then modify the sub-theme clones before saving the new block config into sub-theme region.

For example:

$block_ids = \Drupal::entityQuery('block')->condition('theme', 'my_base_theme')->condition('region','my_region')->execute();
foreach ($block_ids as $block_id) {
  $parent_block = \Drupal\block\Entity\Block::load($block_id);

  $new_id = str_replace('my_base_theme', 'my_sub_theme', $parent_block->get('id'));
  $child_block = $parent_block->createDuplicateBlock($new_id, 'my_sub_theme');
  // @TODO: set other properties that might need to be unique to this new theme's block


I have done this before but it's been a while. First, make sure the regions match between your two themes. I think this is what I did:

  • Export configs:
$ drush cex
  • Use text editor to locate all of the config files that start with block.block....

  • Run a bulk find theme: seven and replace with theme: subtheme.

  • Delete the uuid: ... line from each of the updated config files.

  • Import configs:

drush cim
  • 1
    Thank you, but I am asking how to this in an update hook programmatically. – Frank Robert Anderson May 6 '20 at 17:23
  • @FrankRobertAnderson – Maybe add that for clarification to your question. – leymannx May 6 '20 at 17:30
  • The post already says that I am asking for a programmatic solution. – Frank Robert Anderson May 6 '20 at 18:49
  • I apologize, @FrankRobertAnderson, sometimes I see programmatically and I just think "not with the GUI." Shawn Conn's answer seems like more the approach you need. – Isaiah Nixon May 7 '20 at 19:15
  • No need to apologize @IsaiahNixon – Frank Robert Anderson May 7 '20 at 19:32

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