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Installing a Kunena template

2135 hits Updated: 13 October 2016

What is a Kunena template (compared to a Joomla template)?

How to install a new Kunena template

This article explains the difference between a Joomla site template and a Kunena component template.

When you install Kunena for the first time it comes with a built-in template called Blue Eagle[1]. Blue Eagle is not a Joomla site template; it is a template designed for Kunena. The files in Blue Eagle are updated and replaced automatically when you upgrade from one version of Kunena to a later version.

Many people want to customise Kunena to better suit their Joomla site; however, if they change the original source code in Blue Eagle those changes are lost when they upgrade to a newer version of Kunena. There are several ways that you can customise the way that Kunena looks on your website. These involve adding your own CSS rules to your Joomla site template or use a custom Kunena template so that, when new releases of Kunena become available, you can upgrade without losing your custom changes.

Based on my own experience using Kunena over many years, this article discusses some of these custom template issues.

What is a Kunena template (compared to a Joomla template)?

Location of J! 3.x Extension ManagerYour Joomla site template is installed using the Extension Manager tool in Joomla (click the image of the screenshot on the right to enlarge it). If you have just created your very first Joomla website, it will have two or three site templates already included with names like Protostar or Beez3. One of these will be the default (the one marked with a yellow star).

These files are stored on your website in the folder:


Your Joomla site template defines everything about how your site looks to your visitors. You can change the way that your site looks – you can give your site a completely new look, if you want – by using the Joomla Template Manager. If you want to install other templates you use the Joomla Extension Manager.

As I mentioned in the introduction, when you first install Kunena it comes with the Blue Eagle template installed as standard. Future versions of Kunena may include more than one standard template but, for the purposes of our discussion, we will assume that you have installed K 3.0 and the Blue Eagle template is already installed.

The Blue Eagle template for Kunena is a collection of more than 200 files that include PHP, CSS, media (e.g. images), XML and whatever else is necessary to display your forum to those who use your site. Kunena template files are stored in a completely different location to Joomla site templates:


In contrast to your Joomla site template, Kunena templates affect what is displayed on your forum. Of course, your forum may appear different to the Kunena website (or even on the site here) but the Kunena template is primarily responsible for how your forum pages are displayed to your visitors. You should also know that you can override the way that Kunena looks by adding your own CSS rules to your Joomla site template CSS files.

It is beyond the scope of this article to go into details about how to design a Kunena template but nearly all third-party developers start with Blue Eagle as a base and then create a new template from it. If you know how, designing a custom Kunena template is not too hard – it usually takes a day or two – but, for people who have neither the time nor the skill to do this themselves, there are professionals who specialise in this kind of work and who have templates for sale.

Kunena Template ManagerKunena templates are not managed by the Joomla Template Manager. There is a separate feature for managing Kunena templates called the Kunena Template Manager (click the image of the screenshot on the right to enlarge it)..

When you can have more than one Kunena template installed you must define one to them as the default (the one marked with a yellow star); you can use different Kunena templates for different Joomla menu items in a similar way to being able to use different Joomla templates with different Joomla menu items.

I will not go into details about how to use different Kunena templates on different pages at your site because this article is intended to give people the basic information.

howto kTemplateHow to install a new Kunena template

As we discussed in the last section, you can install other Joomla templates using the Joomla Extension Manager. A Joomla template is a Joomla extension in the same way as other Joomla exensions – components, modules, plugins and languages – are installed with the Joomla Extension Manager. Kunena templates are not Joomla extensions and you do not use the Joomla Extension Manager to install them. They are installed with the Kunena Template Manager.

I have produced detailed instructions for how to install a Kunena template as a slide show you can view in your web browser.


[1]  This article was written when Kunena’s Blue Eagle template was installed by default; it was also written when the author was involved in designing and selling his own templates.  Since that time the author is no longer involved with developing templates for Kunena.  Some parts of the original article have been redacted to remove references to products that are no longer available or supported.  From K 5.0, Kunena installs a new template called Crypsis by default.  The general principles for installing templates for Kunena, as discussed in this article, still apply.

About the author:

is a Joomla professional and former member of the Kunena project for more than 8 years—a substantial contributor to the original Kunena documentation project with over twenty thousand messages posted at the Kunena forum. The opinions expressed in this article are entirely those of the author. View his profile here.

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