How do I reliably reload a custom Drupal theme I am developing without access to the command line? Just clearing the caches before I perform the load only works sometimes.

FWIW, we are promised command-line access in the future (security issues yet to be ironed out) but not anytime soon.

  • What do you mean by "reload a theme"? Theme regions? settings? libraries? hooks? templates?
    – sonfd
    Commented Aug 26, 2020 at 14:52
  • I meant reload all of the files of the theme. Commented Aug 26, 2020 at 21:07
  • Is this local dev? turn off caching? Just clearing the caches before I perform the load only works sometimes should work all the time, restart server?
    – No Sssweat
    Commented Aug 27, 2020 at 5:40

1 Answer 1


The steps that so far work reliably for me with Drupal 8.9.1 to load a custom theme again without command-line access are:

  1. Install and enable the Devel module. (You will only need to do this once.)
  2. Put your site into maintenance mode.
  3. Turn on Devel -> Settings -> Rebuild the theme registry on every page load.
  4. Clear the caches.
  5. Load the new copy of the theme from Appearance -> Install new theme -> Upload a module or theme archive to install.
  6. Clear the caches.
  7. Reload one of your pages to verify your theme changes.

The second "Clear the caches" (6) might be redundant.

So far, this has worked like a champ once I figured out all of the necessary steps.

  • 1
    Also make sure you don't have CSS and JS Aggreggation turned on under Development > Performance.
    – prkos
    Commented Aug 28, 2020 at 0:20
  • Too true, prkos. Commented Sep 10, 2020 at 19:08

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