How to Change Your Theme in Gnome Desktop Environment?

Change How Your Gnome Desktop Looks

GNOME is the default desktop environment in Ubuntu, Fedora & Manjaro and although configured according to the distribution, it might not be best suited for you. But, just like the icons, we can change the default theme as per our preference as well. Here’s how you can change the default GNOME theme.

Also read: Change Icon Theme in Gnome DE

Install GNOME Extensions

Visit the GNOME extensions website and first, install the GNOME shell browser integration, mentioned on the site. This will help us to download and enable other essential GNOME extensions. Allow the extension to run itself in the private window if you always use your browser in the incognito mode.

Install Browser Extension
Install the Browser Extension

Once installed, reload the page.

Install User-Themes Extension

Now, search for User Themes in the search box and enable the extension.

Install User Theme Extension
Install User Theme Extension

Restart your OS if the installation throws an error at you. Now, we’re ready to install your favorite theme on your desktop.

Pick a Theme

Visit and pick any GTK3 theme you like and download it. My favorites are  Dracula, Orchis, Material & Nordic. You can even make your desktop look like macOS, if you download McMojave theme. Just make sure that you download the Shell theme as well as the GTK3/4 theme.

Download Nordic Theme
You should try Nordic theme

For demonstration purposes, I’m going with Dracula, however you can follow these steps for any theme.

Extract the Theme and Apply

Now, navigate to your Downloads folder and extract the tar file of the theme and the shell by right-clicking on it and then pressing Extract Here.

Extract The Theme Tar File
Extract The Theme Tar File

Or open the Downloads folder in your terminal by typing the following command and extracting using the tar command:

cd Downloads
tar -xzvf theme-name.tar
tar -xzvf shell-theme.tar

Once the extraction is complete, move the folders to ~/.themes or /usr/share/themes depending on whether you want to apply this theme just for your current user, or do you want to apply this theme system-wide (for the root user).

Change the GNOME Theme Only for the Current User

Create a folder named ‘.themes’ in your home directory, either in your File Manager or by typing the following in the terminal :

cd ~/
mkdir .themes

Linux hides the folder if its name begins with a ‘.’ and therefore, to view the folder, click on the 3 dots on top right and select the ‘View hidden files’ checkbox.

View Hidden Directories
View Hidden Directories

Move the theme folder to the ‘.themes’ folder we created before in your Home directory, either by Cut-pasting using Ctrl + X and then Ctrl + V or by typing the following commands in your terminal :

mv theme-folder ~/.themes/

Change the Gnome Theme System-Wide

In your file manager, go to the root directory (/) and then navigate to usr/share/themes folder, and create this folder if it doesn’t exist. To do this via the terminal, type the following commands :

sudo mkdir /usr/share/themes/

Now, navigate to your downloads folder and then cut-paste the extracted theme folder to your usr/share/themes/ folder. To do this in the terminal easily, just copy-paste the commands :

cd /home/user/Downloads
mv Icon-Theme-Folder /usr/share/themes/

Apply the Theme via GUI Method

Now, open your Gnome Tweaks application, and from the appearance section, change your Shell and Applications theme to the one which you downloaded, from your dropdown menu.

Select Shell Theme
Select Shell Theme

Your theme will be applied. Restart your system if a few things don’t align well/work as intended with the theme.

Apply the Theme via CLI Method

You can also apply the theme directly from the terminal, to apply the theme, type the following command :

gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.interface gtk-theme THEME-NAME

And to apply the shell theme, use the following commands :

gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.wm.preferences theme THEME-NAME


Final Results
Final Results

Do try out different combinations of Shell themes and Application themes, as they will completely change how your system will look. Hopefully, you were able to apply a new Theme using this article as a guide and made your desktop look even cooler.