How To Install Desktop Themes in Ubuntu 16.04 & Higher

In this tutorial, we explain all the steps you must follow to know how to install desktop themes in Ubuntu 17.10

In Ubuntu we have several options when managing the themes, these:


The icons are quite simple. Changing the theme of the icon will change the appearance of the icons of the applications therefore we must opt for an icon theme that is compatible with a wide range of applications, otherwise, we may see that some icons remain unchanged and They look out of place.

GTK Theme

The GTK theme is a framework used to build the graphical user interface of an application. Basically, it determines the way an application interface will look (if it is a GTK application). Currently, Ubuntu uses GTK3, so it will be necessary to download the GTK3 themes.

GNOME Shell theme

Changing the GNOME Shell theme will modify the Shell elements, such as the top panel, the activity overview, the desktop notification and some more.

How To Install Themes in Ubuntu 16.04 using PPA

In order to correctly install the themes in Ubuntu, it will first be necessary to use a PPA repository, so we will get the updated themes automatically. For this case we will use the theme Pop OS which is a complete package of themes developed by System76 for its own Pop OS Linux distribution.

This PPA can be installed by executing the following command:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:system76/pop

Later, we will update the repository packages by executing the following command:

sudo apt-get update

Finally, we will install the themes using the following command:

sudo apt-get install pop-theme

This will install the Pop OS icon, GTK3 and the GNOME Shell theme in Ubuntu, and we should not do anything else, since now the new themes will be available in the system and will only need to be changed.

How To Install Theme in Ubuntu using .deb Packages

Some theme developers offer for free the .deb executable of the respective theme, just download the .deb package and double click on it to install the theme like any other software.

There it is enough to select the desired theme and then download it and execute it.

How To Manually Install Themes Ubuntu

This is one of the most practical ways to provide themes for Ubuntu.

For example, on the gnome-looks website for topics, we will find that the themes come in the form of a zip or tar file.

We will begin with downloading the Ant GTK theme.

There we will go to the “Files” section, if we see more than one file, it is because the selected theme has some variants.

These variants are similar, but vary a bit in terms of appearance. For example, there are themes with dark options or clear environments, etc.

Once downloaded the theme we will perform the following process:

We will go to our Home folder and use the key combination Ctrl + H to show the hidden files and folders.

If we see the folders .themes and .icons it is all right, otherwise, it will be necessary to create these new folders called .themes and .icons by executing the following commands:

mkdir ~/.themesmkdir ~/.icons

Remember that when the GTK or GNOME Shell theme file is downloaded, it should be extracted and copied to the .themes folder in the home directory, while if a file is downloaded from the theme of the icon, we must extract it and copy it to the folder. icons in the home directory.

So we have the following:

  • .themes: For GTK and GNOME Shell themes
  • .icons: For icons themes

How to Change Theme in Ubuntu

For this we must use the Tweak-Tool which we can install using two methods:

  • From the Ubuntu software center
  • Running sudo apt install gnome-tweak-tool in the terminal.

When the tool is deployed, we go to the Appearance section, and we can change the theme easily:

There we have the options to change the icon, GTK3 and the Shell theme. We can see in the GNOME Shell section a warning message, this is because we do not have this extension installed, for this we must execute the following:

sudo apt install gnome-shell-extensions

In this way it will be possible to carry out the process of adjustments of topics in this practical and scalable operating system.

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