How To Customize Ubuntu 18.04 With Themes

Hello, Ubuntu fans! Ubuntu 18.04 Bionic Beaver comes with a huge major upgrade; switching from Unity to GNOME Desktop Environment. This sounds fun and refreshing but unfortunately, the Desktop Environment switch has also left some users quite confused over one thing they love the most: theming

However, the irony is even though theming Ubuntu with new looks is possible, the process is somewhat a daunting task which is just not user-friendly at all. But fret not, today I’ll cover how you can customize your newly installed Ubuntu with themes. And there are two ways to achieve that:  

  1. Using terminal
  2. Using GNOME Tweaks program


Before I proceed any further I assume that you already know how to install themes in the appropriate directories.Users installing a theme as system-wide would install in /usr/share/themes and /usr/share/icons directories. Here is a complete article on how to install themes in Ubuntu using terminal.

€‹While users installing it for their account only would copy the appropriate files to ~/.themes and ~/.icons directories.

1. Using terminal

Since Tweaks program isn’t installed by default on Ubuntu, using the terminal is the first solution when theming Ubuntu. However, if you prefer the graphical method of customing the computer, skip this heading and scroll down to Using GNOME Tweaks.

The reason why Tweaks program is not installed on Ubuntu by default is because customizing GNOME Shell with extensions tends to break Ubuntu’s stability. However, themes won’t break your computer 😉​

There are three commands that will change the look and feel of your Ubuntu:

gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.interface gtk-theme
gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.wm.preferences theme
gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.interface icon-theme

The first two commands is used to set the window look and feel for Ubuntu, and the third command is used to customize the look and feel for Ubuntu icons.  

2. Using GNOME Tweaks

GNOME Tweaks is the program that can customize any aspect of your Desktop Environment through extensions and including theming it with new looks and feel. Since the program is not pre-installed, you’d have to manually install it through Ubuntu Software.

When you launch the program, there’ll be two main options to customize Ubuntu with themes: Applications and Icons. Change them to your appropriate preference. Note that it’s not necessary to customize both of them ie., you can change the look for Applications (window look) and leave the Icons as it is. However, sometimes certain combinations can bring alive your computer with refreshing looks.

In addition to this, you can customize your GNOME Shell to go along with your theme. To do that, install User theme addon from Ubuntu Software and enable it under the Extensions category (on the Tweaks program) and then choose the Shell for your current theme which is below Icons under the Appearance category.  


I hope the above methods have been helpful in theming your new Ubuntu. You can either use the terminal (if you like being a “terminal” geek) or the graphical method ie., using Tweaks program to customize your computer with new looks and feel. So what’s next? Figuring out which of the hundred themes on the Internet are worth trying out? Check out our collection of Linux themes.