How to install themes and icon packs in any Ubuntu-based Linux distro

How to install themes and icon packs in any Ubuntu-based Linux distro

Linux is all about customization. In this quick tutorial you will find out how to install themes and icon packs on any Ubuntu-based distro in just a few simple steps.

Installing themes and icon packs that come in a compressed folder

Adding a .themes and .icons folder to the home directory

The .themes and .icons folder is where you will extract the downloaded files. To add these folders head to the file manager, click on Home and press Ctrl+H on your keyboard. This will show all hidden folders. If you already have a .themes and .icons folder then you can move on to the next step. If not, simply add those folders by right clicking on an empty space and creating a new empty folder.

Installing icon packs and themes

Most icon packs and themes, come in .zip or .tar.gz compressed folders. After downloading the file head to your downloads, find the compressed folder, right click on it and choose Open in Archive Manager. Now click on the extract button and your file explorer will appear. Find the home directory, open the .icons folder if you are installing an icon pack or the .themes folder if you’re installing a theme (press Ctrl+H if you can’t see those folders) and extract the files into it.

Installing themes and icon packs via PPA or .deb packages

Some themes and icon packs have the option to be installed differently – with the use of terminal commands or .deb packages. In both cases there is no need to add any folders to the home directory making these methods much easier. If you want to use terminal commands from the theme/icon pack website simply paste them into the terminal pressing enter after each one. In the case of .deb packages you will need to download and open them in your package manager. You should see a Install button. Click it, enter your password and wait for the package to be installed.

Applying icon packs and themes

To apply themes and icon packs you will need to find your system tweak tool. Some distros have it pre-installed, others require a separate installation. Search your system for a tweak tool (there might be a shortcut to it in the settings) and if you don’t find one search the web for how to install it on your system. Depending on the distro, the tweak tool will be slightly different but finding an option to change the theme, icon pack and cursor theme should not be complicated. In fact, these tools will probably be visible immediately after opening the tweak tool. Now simply choose the theme and/or icon pack that you have just installed from the list and you should see your system change right before your eyes.

The tweak tool in Elementary OS
The tweak tool in Elementary OS.


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Patrick is a student and tech enthusiast, mostly interested in UI design, Android modding and custom ROMs.