How to fix blank screen in Preferences > Themes on the Prestashop Back Office

The Symptoms

You’ve linked your shop to your Prestashop Addons account, where you’ve previously or recently bought a theme. You try opening the Preferences > Themes menu, just to find that after trying to load the page for a while, you either get a blank page (even with dev mode on) or a cryptic 500 error.

The cause

When the Admin Themes Controller initializes, it checks if you’re logged into Prestashop Addons, and if so, whether there’s a theme in your account that hasn’t been installed in your store. If there is, it tries to download it automatically, and here’s where the problem lies: your server is timing out during this connection. If you go to your server error log, you’ll probably find an error such as mod_fcgid: read data timeout in xx seconds if your PHP installation is running on FastCGI.

The Solution

Unfortunately, if you are running on a shared host you almost certainly won’t have the required access necessary to change the server’s timeout parameters. In that case the only course of action is to disable the theme auto-download functionality in AdminThemesController.php, and this can be cleanly done in an override. This is all the code you need in your override:

class AdminThemesController extends AdminThemesControllerCore
    public function init()
        $this->logged_on_addons = false;

If you don’t know how to create overrides don’t worry, you can download the following zip with the override already in place. All you need to do is extract the folder within, upload it into your store’s root Prestashop folder, and delete the file cache/class_index.php on your store so the override is detected.