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Why you should register your Shopify theme and how to do it

Why you should register your Shopify theme and how to do it

If you're using a Pixel Union or Out of the Sandbox Shopify theme in your online store, you can easily register your theme through the Shopify Theme Updater App.

But what exactly is theme registration and why is it important?

What is Shopify theme registration?

Simply put, Shopify theme registration is a way to link your Shopify theme license to a specific Shopify store.

When you purchase a premium Shopify theme, either directly from a theme developer or through the Shopify theme store, you’re purchasing a license for that theme, which is valid for use in a single shop. However, just purchasing the theme is not the same as taking the extra step to register your theme.

While not all Shopify themes support registration, Out of the Sandbox and Pixel Union support registration via the Theme Updater App.

To find out if a non-Out of the Sandbox theme supports registration and how to do it, check with the theme developer. It’s also important to note that you can only register a theme once per license. If you want to use the same premium Shopify theme on a second store, you’ll need to purchase a second license for it.

Why should you register your theme?

There are several key advantages to registering your Shopify theme:

  • You’ll be verifying that your Shopify theme is properly licensed.
  • Completing the registration process will help prevent your licensed copy from being used, without your knowledge, on another Shopify store.
  • Since you are verifying that your Shopify theme is tied to a valid license purchase, you’ll be contributing to the development and future features of your Shopify theme.
  • Registering your theme with Out of the Sandbox or Pixel Union will ensure you can continue to receive timely and efficient Shopify theme support, as outlined by our support policy, since it will allow us to verify your purchase and account.
  • You can be sure you’re kept up to date about important news and updates to your themes.
  • You can update your theme easily by clicking one button within the Theme Updater App. The process will even attempt to move over basic custom code.

How to register your Out of the Sandbox or Pixel Union theme

Registering is an easy process that starts with installing the Shopify theme updater app from the official Shopify app store.

  • Full steps on how to register your theme are available here.
  • Download the Shopify theme updater app here.
  • Find information about updating your theme after registering here.

Shopify theme registration

If you prefer to handle updating your theme manually (or not at all), you can still safely install the theme updater app and register your theme without having the app affect your live store in any way. In fact, the app runs silently in the background and doesn’t make any changes to your license, registration, store, or theme unless you specifically take action to do so.

That said, we do encourage you to consider trying out the app the next time you need to update your Out of the Sandbox or Pixel Union Shopify theme. It’s a great way to save valuable time and it can even move over basic custom code.

In the rare cases where custom code can’t be moved, you can subscribe to the pro plan to get a list of the filenames and line numbers that the app couldn’t transfer. While you’ll then need to move over this code manually, it’s a great way to narrow down the issues the app finds.

Regardless of whether you decide to use the Theme Updater App or not, it’s an excellent idea to keep a list of the changes you made and what files, if any, are involved. That way, when it comes time to update your Shopify theme, you have a record of your changes in case they are lost during the update process and you can implement them again in your new theme version.

Transferring registrations

Once a theme is registered to a specific store, it’s permanently connected to that Shopify account and storefront. In most cases, theme registrations don’t need to be transferred, except in one case: You, as the original purchaser of the theme license, completely close the original store (and delete the theme from it) and create a new store that is also owned by you on a separate Shopify account.

In this case, you can request a registration transfer from either Out of the Sandbox or Pixel Union (depending on which theme you're using) under the following terms:

  • You must completely close your original store and provide proof that the Shopify account originally used has been closed.
  • You must also delete all copies of the theme from that store.
  • You provide both the new and old store addresses to Out of the Sandbox.
  • If your license transfer is approved, you will not be able to use or re-register the theme on the old or any other store.

It’s worth noting that, if you decide to close your Shopify store and reopen one, you can use your existing Shopify account by simply updating the settings and theme to reflect the new business name and content.

This can actually be easier for a variety of reasons, since not only does it not require re-registering or transferring your theme, but it avoids the hassle of setting up payment gateways and other administrative functionality all over again.

In addition, in many cases, you may be able to “recycle” most of the old content from your old store to a new one on the same Shopify account — so this option is always worth considering.

If you decide to continue using an unregistered theme

Continuing to use an unregistered theme can be problematic for a variety of reasons:

  • Your theme license could, either accidentally or nefariously, be linked to another Shopify store, meaning your theme license could become invalid and you’d need to purchase a new license. 
  • You won’t be able to use the Shopify theme updater app plans without a valid registration.
  • Registering your theme gives the Out of the Sandbox and Pixel Union support teams valuable background details about you and your store that can make it faster and more efficient to get help.
  • You may miss important announcements, feature releases, and special offers. 

Your online shop may be flagged as one without a valid paid license for the theme and therefore potentially in violation of copyright laws; this could lead to investigation and even a Shopify DMCA takedown notice.

If you have questions about the Theme Updater App, check out this helpful FAQ article.


Find more helpful articles in The ultimate guide to starting an online store.

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