This tutorial will guide you through installing new Desktop Themes in Ubuntu Linux – and switching between those themes.
At one point in time this was a bit more straightforward. It’s a little more complicated now, but mostly due to the sheer number of ways that you can install a theme in Ubuntu. We’ll cover a few of the most common methods using some of the most popular themes.
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Switching between installed themes is always done the same way, and it requires you to download and install the Gnome Tweaks tool. To do so, open a Terminal and enter the command:
sudo apt install gnome-tweaks
Once Gnome Tweaks has been installed you can close the Terminal. Click the Show Applications button (the one in the bottom left corner of the screen) and then search for tweaks. Click the app icon to open Gnome Tweaks.
Select Appearance from the list of options in the left column. From here you can change the theme that Ubuntu is using. Ubuntu doesn’t ship with very many themes, but it does include Adwaita (in Ubuntu 18.04 LTS and above) and it’s quite popular (it’s the default theme for Fedora Desktop). Click the menu next to Applications – which is probably set to Yaru, the default theme for Ubuntu.
Select Adwaita from the list.
After a brief moment the Adwaita theme will be applied and the style of your applications in Ubuntu will change.
Switch the Icons to Adwaita as well to apply even more changes.
Now that you know how to switch between themes, let’s install a few.
First we’ll need to find some themes to download and try out. OMGUbuntu! has a list of 11 of the best looking GTK themes so let’s install a few of those.
Install the Pop!_gtk Theme for Ubuntu
- Pop!_gtk is usually mentioned when the subject of Ubuntu themes comes up so let’s give it a try. This theme is installed via a Terminal, so open one up and run the following commands:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:system76/pop
sudo apt update
sudo apt install pop-theme
- Once all of the files and their prerequisites have been downloaded and installed, close out of the Terminal window. Launch the Gnome Tweaks app again.
- Select the Appearance item from the column on the left side of the window and then choose Pop from the Applications menu (and the Cursor, Icons and Sound menus if you want to go “full Pop” :)
- Now choose Fonts from the column on the left side of the window and change the them to the Pop recommended ones, which are:
- The Pop developer suggestions you restart your shell to make sure all of the changes are applied – so click Alt + F2 on your keyboard, then r and hit enter.
Window Titles: Fira Sans SemiBold (10)
Interface: Fira Sans Book (10)
Documents: Roboto Slab Regular (11)
Monospace: Fira Mono Regular (11)
Install the Qogir Theme for Ubuntu
- Qogir is installed a bit differently. Start by downloading the zip file from the Qogir github page file and then extract its contents to your Downloads folder. Open a Terminal and navigate to the newly created Qogir-theme-master folder and run the install script by entering the following command:
- This will copy all of the required files to the /home/your_username/.themes/ folder. Launch the Gnome Tweaks app again, select the Appearance tab and this time and choose Qogir from the Applications menu.
Install the Arc Theme for Ubuntu
- Some themes can be installed from directly within the Ubuntu Software app, and there’s even a way to link to them from the web. Open the page 11 Best GTK Themes for Ubuntu (2020 Edition) and scroll down to the Arc section (it’s #6 in the list). Click the Install the Arc GTK Theme from Ubuntu Software button.
- You’ll be prompted to choose an application to open these types of links in. Click the Choose Application button.
- Select Ubuntu Software from the list of app and then click the Open Link button.
- This will launch the Ubuntu Software app on your computer and load the Arc theme installation page. Click the Install button.
- Once the installation has completed, open Gnome Tweaks again and enable the Arc theme inside of the Appearance panel.
My personal favorite Ubuntu/GTK/Gnome theme is WhiteSur. What can I say I’m a sucker for the macOS interface. WhiteSur still gets regular updates in 2021 and has a lot of customization options. In the screenshot below you’ll see the WhiteSur theme and WhiteSur icons with the WhiteSur wallpaper and Firefox and Dash to Dock have both been tweaked.
You may notice a number of themes have a different dock. Of course you should check with the theme documentation to see which one they recommend, but you’ll find a lot of the time it’s Dash to Dock – which happens to be my favorite and the one I use no matter which theme I’ve got loaded.
Gnome Look is the unofficial home to Gnome interface tweaks and eye-candy. They have themes, icons, wallpapers – all neatly organized with ratings and plenty of screenshots.
You can also use the Gnome Tweaks app to change your lock and login screen backgrounds.