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How to customize Gnome-shell with themes (and more..)

Updated on May 3, 2012

Let's face it, Gnome-shell does not come with a great looking theme by default. But you can easily customize it. In this article I will show you how to install a popular gnome-shell theme and an icon theme.

Before you start....

Make sure to have Advanced settings tool (aka gnome-tweak tool ) installed. It can be found in the software center or can be installed via terminal. You need this tool to enable themes and extensions.

Next, you need to install 'gnome-shell-extensions-user-theme'. If this cannot be found in your Software center, add the following PPAs to 'Software Sources'. This is the official Gnome 3 PPA.

deb VERSION main

deb-src VERSION main

-----Replace VERSION with the appropriate ubuntu version. ex. oneiric.

Here is the direct link to the Gnome 3 launchpad page.

After the extension is installed, You need to enable it using the Advanced Settings tool. (under 'Shell Extensions')

Now you are all set. If you are having trouble with any of the above steps, please leave a comment and I will try my best to help you.

1. Install Gnome-shell themes.

There are plenty excellent shell themes available for download. I recommend using Faience theme as it is one of the best themes (if not the best) available. Here is how you would go about installing it.

Download the theme folder from the website below.

Now open up the Advanced Settings tool. Go to the 'Theme' tab. Click on the 'None' Button next to 'Shell Theme' and select the theme folder you downloaded from the above website. This will install the theme on to your system. You can now select the theme from the drop-down menu.

2. Install Icon Themes.

Since you have a great shell-theme installed, it is time for you to install a beautiful icon theme. I recommend The Faience Icon theme. It is from the same artist who created the well-known Faenza icon theme. But Faience was created for Gnome 3 and comes with more icons.

To install the Faience icon theme, Download the theme folder from the website below.

Now extract the zip file and put the 'Faience', 'Faience-Azur', 'Faience-Ocre' and 'Faience-Claire' folders inside your ~/.icons directory. Use the Advanced Settings tool to select your Faience theme.

3. Add Extensions.

There are quite a few useful extensions available for Gnome-shell. You can easily install them via terminal or the software center. You can also install extions from the gnome website.

  • places extension - This extension adds a systems status menu for quickly navigating places in the system.

      sudo apt-get install gnome-shell-extensions-places-menu
  • Alternative Status Menu - Adds shutdown button to the status menu.
      sudo apt-get install gnome-shell-extensions-alternative-status-menu
  • Apps Menu GNOME Shell Extension - Adds an applications menu to the to the top-bar.

    sudo apt-get install gnome-shell-extensions-apps-menu

    After you install them, you must enable them using the Advanced Settings tool.


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    • AJReissig profile image

      Alex J. Reissig 4 years ago from New Richmond, Ohio

      Awesome hub. I just got started with Ubuntu recently, and I want to tweak the theme. Thanks!!

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