24 July 2011

Restore the previous theme in Google Chrome

One of the improvements introduced by compared to other browsers was the ability to install themes and extensions quickly, without restarting the browser. But as extensions evolved and gave birth to apps, themes were somewhat ignored. Even if they are included in the Chrome Web Store, you cannot manage them there or see a list of previously installed themes, like you can with extensions and apps; nor does the browser itself offer a manager for themes like in . They are not logged in the download manager either, even though to install the theme you will download a file. So if you reset the theme and want to get it back, you’re basically out of luck if you didn’t at least write the name down or bookmarked the page where you found the theme.

But since the theme was installed on your computer, some trace should be still available, right? It turns out you can retrieve the ID of the last used theme, but it’s not a very user-friendly solution. To do that, you need to follow these steps:

  • Open Chrome’s installation folder and search for the subfolder ‘Extensions’ (Under Windows, the easiest is to right-click the Chrome icon, go to ‘Properties’ and click ‘Open File Location’). For example, mine is
    C:\Users\user\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Extensions;
  • Here you will see a list of subfolders, their names a long string of letters – the ID’s of your extensions, apps, scripts and theme. Unfortunately there is now way to tell from these ID’s which one is the theme (they are probably generated randomly), so…
  • Open a subfolder and look for the file manifest.json. It contains basic information about the extension like name, type and version. Open this file in a text editor and check the name and type. Repeat this until you find a manifest-file with the type of "theme" like in the screenshot below.
  • Copy the long string of characters making up the name of the containing folder – the theme ID – and use it to form an URL in this format:
    https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/<themeID>
  • Visit this address in Chrome and it should point directly to the page of the theme in the Web Store.

Google Chrome find previously installed themeKeep in mind that this only works with the last used theme and only as long as you don’t install a new one. As soon as a new theme is installed, the folder of the old one is deleted. It seems Chrome is somehow hardwired to use a single theme regardless; I doubt even an extension/app would have the permissions to change this behavior.

Another solution would be to search your browsing history for something like “theme web store”, as these terms are always included in the title of pages from the Chrome Web Store. Of course, this only works if you installed the theme recently and haven’t cleared the history since. Hopefully the Chrome/ium development team will find the time to add a theme manager to the browser sometimes in the near future.

P.S. A great resource for Chrome themes is – ironically – this MyOpera page. This is the author of the theme I am currently using, Clouds.

21 comments:

  1. Yeah I ran into a problem where I wanted this to work, but quickly installed a new one accidentally first

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  2. Thanks a lot!!!! just what I needed!!!

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  3. Thank you! Just restored my favorite theme :)

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  4. Thanks for your help. I hope Google does something about this soon. This is really stupid.

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    1. I strongly agree. Google Chrome has been out for a very long time but they seem to miss so many features that should be standard. I would assume by now that they would allow for more adjustments in settings too.
      I have a feeling they just made the web store and just left it to programmers to make any needed adjustments for us to install.

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  5. Please fix history data to restore pages formats. Hell, I can't even find your stupid little wrench tool.

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  6. I did all that (and thank you for your efforts) and it brings up the page in the webstore but I never had trouble getting to the page. It says "added to Chrome" but my browser got set to some default theme after an update yesterday and I can't get the theme back in. Any thoughts from here?

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    1. Have you tried going to Settings > Appearance, click Reset to default theme and them reinstall your preferred theme? Or you could try to install some random theme and the install the one you want, that should fix the problem.
      Sorry, I don't have any other ideas at this point...

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  7. I can get to the page ok (and thank you for the efforts) but the theme says "added to chrome" and I can't get it back. It is still on my system in the above mentioned locations. How do I re-select it? and make it my theme?

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    1. The theme folder will still be available on your PC as long as you don't install any other theme, so that's not a good indication of what happened - or not happened - with the theme.

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    2. That happens to me sometimes as well. I restore my theme by going to options -> Extensions then click Load unpacked extension and browse to the folder mentioned above. If anyone knows what causes this behaviour, I'd love to know.

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  8. Thanks a lot! Worked like a charm.

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  9. Thanks a lot! Worked like a charm.

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  10. thx a lot. exactly what i need.

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  11. Very helpful! I appreciate it.

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  12. Thank you so much George! I found the file, luckily it was the first on my list. Found the name of the theme and then went to the store and there it was. You are my hero.

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    1. Thanks, I'm glad it's still working!

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  13. Thank you so much. Accidently installing a new theme over my favorite one gave me a scare. I went back 3 directories in time and bingo!

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  14. I couldn't find it and i followed the instructions and i couldn't find it And it was my favorite one to what should i do they don't have it the chrome store anymore I need help.

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