In my App folder -> /public_html/app/design/frontend, there are 3 folders, base, default, rwd. Can someone give me help on what these folders are for? I know RWD stands for Responsive Web Design, but what are the differences in the three base folders? Default has my template theme, so I would assume, I would edit in there? But besides that, I'm not entirely sure what each folder is supposed to be for?

Thanks for the help

2 Answers 2


These are the three default packages Magento comes with. Each package can have multiple themes installed inside. If no theme is explicitly set it will use the default theme inside whichever package you are using. I'll do a brief rundown of each package below.

  • Base - This folder has all the template and layout files Magento needs to run. Think of it like the core codepool. You generally don't want to touch the base folder outside of adding in folders from extensions.
  • Default - This is the default theme for Magento. Any files here override the base folder and Magento will use template files from here (if you are using the default theme) where they are available.
  • RWD - This is the alternate default theme which works much the same way Default does but has the feature of being responsive. You'll use one or the other.

Further to what Adad64 has suggested its probably good to have an understanding of how the underlying theme fallback system works. Most importantly the changes made in ce 1.9 and we 1.14 that allow infinite theme fallbacks.

Remember that other than base the packages found in a default install are just sample templates and you are not tied to them. You can make your own design package if you wish.

As of 1.9 what I usually do is create a new package and default theme in the namespace of the current project. E.g mysite/default. I make this theme extend the theme that I want mine to be based off, e.g rwd/default. Any templates of the parent theme that need to be changed can be copied into the new theme and modified. Using this technique keeps all the changes made for the site nicely namespaced in its own package. Future upgrades will be much easier as the default packages can be easily replaced with the new versions files.

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