User Guide: How to Theme Gnome 3

If you’re running Ubuntu, you’re probably running Unity. Stop now and install a real distribution. Candidates include OpenSuSE and Fedora.

Alright now that we’re done that part, how do we fix the crap they shipped Fedora with? I know there’s potential in here somewhere, but it’s hard to find under the absolutely giant title bars on the windows. In fact, once you get used to pressing “logo” and typing something, it’s pretty cool. I still haven’t figured out how to unpin the favorites bar from the right hand side, but I’m sure it will come along. What I want to cover is how to install and use themes.

Step 1: Install gnome-tweak-tool. If you’re using fedora, it’s in yum.

Step 2: Find a theme you like. Places to check – Webupd8 or DeviantArt or More DeviantArt or Gnome Look. You’re looking for Gnome Shell themes (which change the notification bar and Activities pull out) and GTK 3 themes (which change the look and feel of apps).

Step 3: Grab and install ThemeSelector. Note that this is all beta, but it’s also the nicest version of a theme selector I have seen.

Step 4: GTK themes go in /usr/share/themes and gnome shell themes go in .themes (or also /usr/share themes). Pick one. I suggest /usr/share/themes since this is where legacy themes look for their resources. After adding a theme, restart gnome shell (ALT+F2, r).

My gnome shell is Ubuntu Ambiance Dark. My GTK theme is Hope. If you use gnome-tweak-tool, the window title bar is governed by the Windows tab’s current theme entry. The Interface tab will let you set the GTK+ theme. The Shell tab will let you set a Gnome Shell theme, but it seems to be less capable than the Theme Manager. The Theme Manager appears when you mouse top-left and select the themes tab. I know it’s more compatible than gnome-tweak since gnome-tweak throws out anything it doesn’t think is a theme, leading to much frustration.

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