How to install Ubuntu themes

Posted in Tech
January 3, 2009

One of the first things I did when I moved from Vista to Ubuntu was install a nice looking theme. The default Ubuntu theme is pretty decent, but I dont like the brown and when browsing posts like this and this, I knew I wanted a sexier look for my laptop.

I haven’t messed around with themes too much yet, but I can show you how to find and install themes. I would definitely recommend you change your default Ubuntu fonts as well. So lets begin.

Where To Find Ubuntu Themes

There are a number of websites which have free Ubuntu themes for download. One of those sites that I really enjoy and get most of my themes from is Gnome-Look.org. Gnome-Look offers tons of free themes, wallpapers and icons for download. I am assuming you are using gnome as your window manager. If you are, then browse under the GTK 2 themes. Choose a theme and then we will install it below.

Quick note: If you are using apps developed with the QT library (generally KDE apps) then your GTK theme will not be applied to them. You will have to try find a matching QT theme for your theming to be consistent. A nice website for KDE themes is the sister site of Gnome-Look called KDE-Look.

Installing The Theme

Now that you have the theme downloaded, we need to install it. This is a very simple process:

Firstly, goto system > preferences > appearance

Ubuntu Appearance Preferences

Then, click install…

Now, browse for your theme (It should be a tar.gz file), click open and then click apply new theme.

Apply New Ubuntu Theme

And thats all there is to it. Go crazy and install as many as you want until you have the perfect theme :)

  • Dim

    Or just drag-and-drop your .tar.gz file containing the theme to “Themes” tab.

  • http://iarematt.com Matt

    That’ll work too :)

  • http://redstarcoven.blogspot.com/ Walton

    Themes are great fun. I installed Mac 4 Linux and I think it looks great. It’s also cool that once a theme is installed, you can switch it really easily.

  • http://pengjiayou.com/blog 嘉佑

    Thanks, it’s so easy.

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  • Sam

    Hey, i’m fairly new to ubuntu, I have followed your instructions and ill i get is

    There was an error installing the selected file

    “Raptor_by_Ardenarboriger” does not appear to be a valid theme.

    I have tried using all differnt themes of websites and none of them will install, help!

  • Kyle

    I’m having the same error message. have you solved it?

  • Alonso

    Hello, I am having the same problem. the theme does not appear to be a valid theme, what should I do?

  • laith

    @Sam, Kyle, and Alonso:
    sometimes for compression or adding multiple themes into one the tar.gz is in another tar.gz
    Like this:
    >raptor.tar.gz
    >raptor.tar.gz (the theme)

    or sometimes you must manually install the themes by:
    1.untarring them all the way
    2. moving everything you get to .Themes in your home folder by drag’n'drop or commandline:(not so good at cli so i prefer drag’n'dropping)
    1.make sure you untarred to a clean folder
    2. in terminal:
    >cd /path/to/files
    >mv ./* to ~/.themes/
    >DONE!!

    see this site for more info

    *#! always double guess me! :P
    p.s. check the page you got the theme from for info

    –CHEERS–hope i was useful

  • RayRay

    This wont work for my i keep getting you can’t move directory over directory, how can i get this to work

  • Garikai Dzoma

    The correct commands are:

    cd /path/to/files
    mv * ~/.themes/

    Please replace /path/to/files with the correct path of the folder which has the extracted files e.g if you did it on the desktop this will be ~/Desktop/theme_name where theme name is the name of the theme.

  • Christan Bale

    guys i enter the commands in the terminal-but it still doesnt work, my folder is in my desktop and i use the desktop command but it still doesnt work