How to register your custom Site Template with Expression Web 1,2 or 3

A few months ago, I went to Paul, who is one of our Lead Developer to suggest, what I thought is a great new feature, that we should enable our users to register their own Site Templates so that they will be available on the New Site dialog.Then Paul kindly told me that I can do that today. I was pleasantly surprised. But when he patiently walked me through the process, I thought "How would anyone, like me, know how to do this without any instruction?".

After doing some searches online, I noticed that some of you already figured this out. But for others I hope these insights help. It requires you to do many steps manually and you have to have administrator rights to your machine. Hopefully, in future versions of Expression Web, we are able to improve the experience.

So here it is:

The Site templates shipped with Expression Web can be found in a folder like this, depending where it is installed. C:\Program
Files\Microsoft Expression\Web 3\en\WEBS. Out of the box, the folder has the following contents.


Here's an example contents of a template (*.tem) folder:



On the New Site Dialog, you can see the list of out-of-the-box Site Templates:


Here's the contents of the ORG1.INF file:


So, here's the workflow to register your custom Site Templates in Expression Web 1, 2 or 3:

  1. Create a folder in C:\Program Files\Microsoft Expression\Web
    3\en\WEBS folder for your template. Your folder must have a suffix
    ".tem" for template.
  2. Drop the files for your Site template into the folder you just created. The file structure should be flat and should have any sub-folder.
  3. Note that the image files will be created inside a sub-folder named
    "Images" when a Site is created based on your template so adjust the
    code for your files accordingly.
  4. Create an INF file using notepad or other program with the format like the above ORG1.INF example.
  5. Specify the template name, description and the thumbnail image to display on the New Site Dialog.
  6. List out all the files in your Site template and for each file, specify its destination folder.
  7. If your Site template is in a language other than US English, you
    can also change the LCID from 1033 (for en-us) to the appropriate Language ID. See LCID chart on MSDN.
  8. Take a screen capture of the home page of your template Site and save it in this folder as well. This image will be use as the preview thumbnail for your Site template in the New Site dialog. Specify the name of this image in the preview field in the INF file as well.

To test this out, I added a Site template I downloaded from Zen Garden and here's how my New Site dialog looks like:



Sayuri Wijaya Gould
Expression Web Program Manager

Comments (4)
  1. Tina says:

    I’ve written my own tutorial for this – I feel the one above leaves a lot of steps out –  I know because I tried to follow it, it fails to mention several important steps and why certain things will happen, sorry but not having done this before I found the tutorial misled me. Seeing graphics of the authors own efforts would have been more informational. It looks like you are supposed to write the file names in upper case because the ms programmer wrote them that way, but you don’t have to. The fact that it indicates index for the homepage when default is the generic homepage file in ew, points up a little known fact, and not knowing whats happening can totally confuse one. I had to do a lot of expermenting. The wording needs amending as it is meant to say there should be NOT be any folders in the .tem file. There is a better msdn link for the LCID codes too. One essential fact – if you do not get the paths right it will not work, your site is best having as simple a layout as possible. Read more about all this in more detail Register Custom Templates in Expression Web 3.0 – I do agree it could be a lot more simple like making .tem  pages already is, some menu feature would be great, its much much easier to have site templates to hand within the prog its-self instead of having to publish a stored one or open a package from elsewhere.

  2. sayuri says:

    Thanks Tina for sharing your experiences on this. Only with other contributors’ help, like Tina’s, we can put together a consolidated list of comprehensive instructions.

    So this morning, Paul pulled me into his office again to share another exciting discovery.

    It turned out that if you drop your custom template into your %appdata%MicrosoftExpressionWeb 4LegacyExpressionWeb 4Webs folder, in my case, it’s C:UserssayuriwAppDataRoamingMicrosoftExpressionWeb 4LegacyExpressionWeb 4Webs, you can have your custom Site templates show up in a new section “My Templates” in the New Site Dialog.

    Another plus point for dropping your custom Site templates into this folder is that you don’t need admin permission on your machine and you don’t need to click through a string of warning dialogs to do this.

    Btw, we also discovered that the folder name for your custom template doesn’t have to end with “.tem”. You just have to make sure that the name of the folder is the same as the name of the .INF file in that folder.

    You can share or download Site templates at

  3. Tina says:

    Thanks for the update on the file name Sayuri. I think I will stick with .tem that way I won’t get confused between files. Btw you might want to amend the paths in your comment to 3 instead of 4, only the xweb team have v4;) it might confuse people. Yes I found out about the My Templates folder  by noting a comment on the ms gallery for a template I think was called redstyle. Though I had come across the folder when I was looking for paths for the query files, however I thought at the time it was the page templates. This partly encouraged a upcoming project which will be free to all, should be available soon.

    In My Templates in the New Site box it does not produce a preview, I take it thats by design? Would you have a definitive exact size for the preview thumbnail btw?

    I don’t suppose there is a hidden gem for a wonderful new navigation? <grin>

  4. web designer says:

    Thanks u r information                          

    its very  useful

Comments are closed.

Skip to main content