How to duplicate a theme on Shopify?

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As a dev working on Shopify, everytime I start making changes on a client store theme, first I make a backup of that theme, even if the theme is newly installed on the store.

I call the new theme a development environment where I can build new stuff or customize things that the client needs.

Never, ever start customizing the code on a “Published” theme which is the live theme of your store especially if you are copy/pasting code from the internet.

Making changes even in the theme editor on the live theme before testing on a dev environment could end up ugly especially if you have a store that has a lot of traffic.

My advice is to always create a theme duplicate on which you start to work on changes and once completed, Shopify allows you to publish your new changes with a touch of a button.

Once you publish your new changes the previous live theme will become a duplicate in your “Theme Library” that can serve as a backup if you need to get back to an environment that worked correctly before publishing your changes.

But how do you duplicate a Shopify theme?

Duplicate theme

First you need to login inside your Shopify dashboard. If you do not know how please follow the tutorial: “How to login into your shopify store?

Once logged inside the store you can see the administration dashboard, click on the “Online Store” menu, item found under the “Sales channels” section like in the image below:

Shopify “Online Store” sales channel.
Shopify “Online Store” sales channel.

This will take you to the “Themes” page (marked with 1 in the image below) where all your store themes reside.

Click on the “Actions” button (marked with 2 in the image below) to reveal the drop-down menu.

Click on the “Duplicate” button marked with 3 to duplicate the theme.

Shopify will start the duplication process in the “Theme library” section marked with 4 in the image below.

Shopify live theme duplication process.
Shopify live theme duplication process.

Once Shopify starts the duplication process you’ll see a newly created theme on the “Theme library” which will have a progress circle (marked with 1 in the image below)  showing that the duplication process is still in progress.

You’ll also see a message that says “Theme duplicated” (marked with 2 in the image below). 

That means that the theme is being duplicated but the duplication process has not been completed yet.

Dawn theme duplication in Shopify.
Dawn theme duplication in Shopify.

Rename the theme duplicate

The name of the newly duplicated theme will always start with “Copy of” followed by the theme name that you duplicate.

In my example I’ve duplicated the “Dawn” theme and that means that my theme duplication is called “Copy of Dawn”.

Once the duplication process is completed you’ll see the newly duplicated theme, in my case “Copy of Dawn” and next to the theme name you’ll see a little blue label saying “Just added” like in the image below.

Dawn theme duplicated in Shopify.
Dawn theme duplicated in Shopify.

My recommendation is to rename the duplicated theme to something more meaningful to help you distinguish it from the other duplicates or themes you have in your theme library.

If it is a development environment call it  “Dev” or more specifically followed by the feature you’re going to develop like “Dev – Sticky Header”.

Duplicate the duplicate

The duplication process is not available only for the live theme.

The duplication process can be initiated for any of the themes in the “Theme Library” including even duplicates of duplicates and so on.

Let’s duplicate “Copy of Dawn” which is a duplicate of the live version.

Click on the “Actions” button (marked with 1 in the image below) and select “Duplicate” (marked with 2 in the image below) :

Duplication of the Dawn theme duplicate in Shopify.
Duplication of the Dawn theme duplicate in Shopify.

Once Shopify starts the duplication process you’ll see a message like “Theme duplicated” and a progress indicator (marked with 2 in the image below):

Duplication process of the Dawn theme duplicate in Shopify.
Duplication process of the Dawn theme duplicate in Shopify.

When Shopify finishes and the theme duplication is completed you’ll see the newly duplicated theme, in my case “Copy of Copy of Dawn” and next to the theme name you’ll see a little blue label saying “Just added” like in the image below.

Dawn theme duplication of the duplicate in Shopify.
Dawn theme duplication of the duplicate in Shopify.

Do also keep in mind that a theme duplicate is actually a new theme on which you can start making changes or coding new features.

You can duplicate a theme a limited amount of times because you are limited on how many themes or theme duplicates you can have in your library.

Note that you can have only 20 theme duplicates or themes in your Shopify store.

If you already have 20 duplicates or themes you need to delete one to make room for the new one.

Conclusion

Duplicating themes on Shopify is an extremely easy process with just a couple of actions needed.

I hope the tutorial is helpful, if you like our content please subscribe to our newsletter so you can receive all the new tips straight to your inbox.