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How to Enable Custom Background in WordPress 3.0 Themes

WordPress 3.0 introduces a new feature called custom backgrounds for WordPress themes. This feature will give the user an ability to add custom backgrounds to their site which will give their blogs/sites a unique touch. Even though this feature is added to the core, it will only be activated if your theme supports it. In this article, we will show you how you can enable Custom Background in WordPress themes for WordPress 3.0.

Note: This article is intermediate level article focused specially for theme designers.

Update: the code used in the video add_custom_background is depracated. Look at the code below in this article.



Simply open your functions.php file and add the following line:


Then under appearance you should be able to see an option for Custom backgrounds.

Custom Background in WordPress 3.0

The default twenty ten theme for WordPress 3.0 already has this feature enabled in it.

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26 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. There seems to be a problem. Just as I select the image file and click upload, it refreshes the page with no result. The ‘color’ thing works. And, I have tried many browsers.

    Any help? Can we do it manually? As in, by some codes?

  2. What is the default size for wordpress backgrounds? i.e. what size should images be for them to fit properly in the background.

    • The best image is the one that can be repeated, so you keep the page load time small. WordPress will only show the background image that fits the screen resolution of the user.


  3. Same situation here:
    Fatal error: Call to undefined function add_custom_background() in /mnt/data/www/sinya/ on line 34

    what to do?
    haven’t upgrade yet to 3.0.0

  4. Hey I did what you said but i got this message

    Fatal error: Call to undefined function add_custom_background() in /home/patina/ on line 2

    And now it won’t let me sign in at all to even go into the admin.
    Any advice? I need help bad…

  5. Hey… that was cool. After my first comment, I am taken to a different page with more information about your website and commenting… how did you make that happen? Plugin?
    I’d love to know more.

  6. It is important to note that for this to work within a theme, you must add the wp_head() after your theme stylesheet link in the theme header. This new function adds blocks with the added color/background from within the wp_head() section, and if you call your stylesheet after the wp_head(), your stylesheet will override the custom background function.

    I am torn, as I tend to call my stylesheet after the wp_head() call so that I can override styles added by plugins. May need to make a separate stylesheet for plugin overrides to be called later in the header.

  7. So how does WordPress know how to change the background? What if my current theme already has some background css attributes? Which one over-rides the other?

    • Your current theme would have to be made compatible with this feature. This is article is for theme designers who are creating themes and want to get WordPress 3.0 features in it. You would have to add the function for body class. If WordPress see that someone has updated the Custom Backgrounds page in the admin panel, then it will be prioritized. Otherwise the default background that you specify in the css file prevails.


    • With the default function NO. For that you are better of using a plugin (several exist). The way this function works is it adds styling to the overall body class, so it will be the same for the entire site.


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