Customizing your elementary desktop


  1. Introduction
  2. What is elementary tweaks?
  3. How to install elementary tweaks
    • Installing community themes and icon sets
  4. More Artwork for elementary OS
    • Numix Project
    • Moka/Faba Icons
    • elementary transparent
  5. Additional Tweaks and Tricks
    • Install/configure Super-wingpanel
    • Install Conky Manager
  6. Using your own image as a desktop background


The folks at elementary are an artistic group who place strong emphasis on design.  For every desktop icon and window decoration, it is easy to see that no single pixel escapes this strong design ethic and we at elementarynow love the “out of the box” look and feel.

However, elementary is a Linux distribution and that means everything is customizable for those who want to individualize their desktop experience.  While the content of our “how to” tutorials are not officially supported by elementary it would be rare to find someone in our community who has not used at least one or all of these methods.

What is elementary tweaks?

elementary tweaks is a 3rd party application that allows a you to modify many components on your desktop.  A small team of 3rd party developers recognized that many users wanted this capability and set up a community repository to develop applications, tools and window decorations specifically targeted at the elementary project. Some of the capability of elementary tweaks are listed below along with a screen-shot.

  • Appearance: Allows you to change your windows user interface, and your icon theme.
  • Font: Personalize your system wide fonts for a consistent look and feel. System wide fonts impact your Window titles, menus, notifications etc however may not effect some 3rd software applications.
  • Animation: Control the open, close, minimize and maximize motion speed and effects of your windows
  • Shadows: Tweak the depth of shadows on your menus and open windows
  • Plank: Change the icon size, theme, screen position of the plank dock. It also has multiple options for hiding or showing the dock including intelligent-hide mode.
  • Slingshot: select the number of rows and columns to display your application launchers.


How to install elementary tweaks

To install the community PPA on your system open your Terminal [CTRL]-[ALT]-[T] and copy/paste or type:

 sudo apt-add-repository ppa:versable/elementary-update
 sudo apt-get update
 sudo apt-get install elementary-tweaks

Once installed, navigate to : Applications > System Settings > Tweaks to access it

A deliberate design feature of elementary OS is the fact there is no minimize button on the window controls. elementary tweaks allows you to add one by selecting “Windows” for Button Layout drop down.

Installing additional community themes and icon sets

As well as hosting the elementary tweaks application the community repository (PPA) also contains popular windows decorations, icon themes and themes for your dock (“plank”)

You can install these all at once by opening the Terminal and then copy/paste the following command.

sudo apt-get install elementary-dark-theme elementary-plastico-theme elementary-whit-e-theme elementary-harvey-theme elementary-blue-theme elementary-colors-theme elementary-lion-theme elementary-champagne-theme elementary-milk-theme elementary-emod-icons elementary-elfaenza-icons elementary-nitrux-icons elementary-enumix-utouch-icons elementary-plank-themes

Screenshot – An example of a community theme combination

Window decoration: elementary Dark theme with elFaenza icons and Chameleon plank theme

More artwork for your elementary OS

Outside of elementary and our communities there are many projects creating top-class artwork for you desktop.  elementarynow would like to introduce you to some of the more popular ones that are compatible with elementary OS.  Again these are not officially supported by elementary and you are required to add the respective repositories (PPAs) to use them.

Numix project

Numix is a modern and stylish way to give your desktop a warm and jazzy feel. Up-to-date releases of various Numix artworks ( icons, themes, wallpapers and more ) are easy to install by adding their PPA to your repositories. Open a Terminal and run the following:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:numix/ppa
sudo apt-get update

One example are the Numix Circle icons which can be installed by typing/pasting to following command into your Terminal :

sudo apt-get install numix-icon-theme-circle
Numix circle icons


Moka project ( )

Moka started as a single Linux desktop icon theme, but over time it has gradually evolved into an entire project & brand identity that provides quality designs to users. To get the full Moka icon experience on your desktop, the recommendation is to install the Moka icon set as well as the Faba base set :

Open your Terminal and  copy/paste or type the following commands

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:moka/stable
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install faba-icon-theme moka-icon-theme

Select Moka icon theme in System Settings > Tweaks > Appearance > Icon Theme

 Important: If you’re using a light-coloured desktop theme, you may want the dark panel icons. Those are available in the monochrome Faba icon set which can be installed it by typing/pasting the following in your Terminal :

sudo apt-get install faba-mono-icons

Set Faba-Dark in System Settings > Tweaks > Appearance > Icon Theme.

Important: Faba-Dark will inherit icons from the other themes, so it is recommended to still have them installed.

Moka Icon theme


Transparent elementary theme

Transparent elementary theme is a 3rd party modified elementary theme adding transparency to Wingpanel, it’s indicators and Slingshot.

Open your Terminal and  copy/paste or type the following commands

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:yunnxx/elementary
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install elementary-transparent-theme

Go to System Settings > Tweaks > Appearance and change Window Decoration Theme and Interface Theme to transparent then log out and in again….


elementary transparent theme

Additional tweaks and tricks

Installing Super-wingpanel

Super-wingpanel is a highly customizable modification of the default wing-panel. If you have already added the elementary community PPA (see above) it is only a matter of opening a Terminal to copy/paste the following line :

sudo apt-get install super-wingpanel

Settings are in Applications > System Settings > Tweaks > Super Wingpanel


Install Conky Manager

Conky is a system monitor software for the X Window System. Conky is able to monitor many system variables including CPU, memory, swap, disk space, temperature, system messages, calendar, date time, weather and much more. It is extremely configurable, however, the configuration can be a little hard to understand.

  • Conky Manager is a graphical front-end for managing Conky config files developed by Tony George, a software developer working in India.
  • It provides options to start/stop, browse and edit Conky themes installed on the system.
  • It already comes with pre-installed themes for your desktop however in addition Jesse Avalos has put together some of the best themes into one package ( DeluxeConky Theme Pack ).

To install Conky Manager open your Terminal and run the following commands :

sudo apt-add-repository -y ppa:teejee2008/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install conky-manager

Conky manager is now installed and available in your Application launcher  (Slingshot) menu.

Download Deluxe Conky Theme Pack.

To use Conky Manager go to the Options tab and import the downloaded file. Usually the file is in Downloads.
The new themes and configuration files are now available for selection.

Don’t forget to check Run Conky at startup in the Options tab – enjoy !


A small selection of the conky configurations available in Conky Manager


Using your own image as a desktop background

elementary OS comes with some beautiful very distinctive desktop backgrounds to choose from but what if you wanted to add a more personal touch and add your own image. This guide will show you how.

First explore the elementary OS default selection. Simply navigate to System settings > Desktop and select the wallpaper you to use

Stock wallpapers / elementary OS

There are two methods to add your background image. One requires elevated privileges (root) and is not described here. The method described below does not require elevated (root) privileges.

  1. Navigate to your home folder Applications > Files
  2. Right click anywhere on the desktop and create a new folder
  3. Name the new folder .backgrounds (the dot before the b is important as it will hide this folder)
  4. Navigate to the image you want to use. Right click on the image and select copy
  5. Navigate back to your home folder and use [CTRL]-[H] to reveal hidden folder and files
  6. Open the .background folder created earlier, right click then select paste
  7. Right click on the image and select set as desktop background
  8. Use [CTRL]-[H] to re-hide your hidden folder and file

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  • […] Algunos detalles sobre la apariencia, estoy usando el tema para las ventanas Numix y el Wingpanel en configuración delgado (primero hay que instalar un programa que deja utilizar esta opción, sudo apt-get install wingpanel-slim). Uso Variety para cambiar el fondo de pantalla cada un rato, e instale Conky para poner el clima, uso de CPU, memoria, etc a la derecha, para encontrar más personalizaciones se puede entrar en ElementaryNow. […]

    Translate: Some details of the appearance, I’m using the theme for NUMIX Wingpanel windows and slim configuration (first install a program that lets you use this option, sudo apt-get install wingpanel-slim). Use Variety to change the wallpaper every a while, and install Conky to put climate, CPU usage, memory, etc. to the right to find more customizations you can enter ElementaryNow.