Use Terminal to create symbolic links to your themes on your local drive

The Question?

Let’s say you have 2 WordPress sites running different databases and you want to see how your new theme looks on both of those websites at the same time, how would you do that?

An Answer

You want to be able to edit one theme and see that theme update on two different WordPress instances on your local mac so one way to do that is to create a symbolic link to the working theme in /wp-content/themes/<your-theme->name>

This means that when the apache (or whichever server you are using) looks for the theme, it finds it.

This assumes

  • You’re on mac
  • You can open the terminal and do basic cut & paste.

The Method

  1. Open Terminal.
    type terminal into spotlight
  2. Open TextEdit
    type textedit into spotlight
  3. Cut and paste the following into a blank TextEdit document
  4. The basic format for the linux operation we’re going to perform is this
    ln -s /path/to/original/ /path/to/link

    or a more real example might be this. Let’s say you have a working directory called node

    ln -s ~/node/{path-to-your-dev-theme}/wp-content/themes/listingslab/ ~/node/{path-to-your-second-site}/wp-content/themes/listingslab/
    The ln command is a standard Unix command utility used to create a hard link or a symbolic link (symlink) to an existing file. The use of a hard link allows multiple filenames to be associated with the same file since a hard link points to the inode of a given file, the data of which is stored on disk. On the other hand, symbolic links are special files that refer to other files by name.
  5. Copy & paste the above command snippet into your TextEdit window, replacing the paths {path-to-…} with more sensible ones of your own. Do this in text edit because you want to make sure it’s perfect before you Cut & paste the command into Terminal. You can find the path to a folder easily by dropping it into a terminal window.
  6. Once you’re happy that the command should do what you want it to, cut and paste it into the Terminal window to create the symlink.
  7. Look in finder to see if your symlink has been created.
  8. Test your second website administering the theme and checking the dev theme shows up.