Linux Mint Themes and Icons beyond the default

Linux Mint Themes

By the end of this post, you will be able to make your Linux Mint Cinnamon desktop look more beautiful or even like Mac OS X. Basically, you will learn how to change the Linux Mint themes beyond the default.

INTRODUCTION

Linux Mint is a great Linux distribution for new users. It is a stable Ubuntu derivative with great community support. And it has a good visual aspect but it can be improved a lot. So, let’s change the Linux Mint themes. You can watchthe video tutorial or continuer reading below.

VIDEO TUTORIAL

So, if you go to SettingsThemes you will find a set of themes that come with Linux Mint by default.

There are some pretty themes by default. For example, I really like Linux Mint Y theme. Check it out. To apply it, simply change every category in Themes to Mint Y.

Apply the Mint-Y theme
Apply the Mint-Y theme

However, the default is not enough for us, and I am going to show you how to install more themes.

Changing the Linux Mint Themes from the system settings

The easiest to configure will be the desktop theme. Go to Settings -> Themes. Next, click on Add/remove desktop themes.

Add/remove desktop themes
Add/remove desktop themes

Next, go to available themes tab. You will see a theme list, you can mark all you want to install.

Available themes for Cinnamon
Available themes for Cinnamon

Sometimes you want to have a closer look at the theme, thus click on More info and you will be re-directed to the Cinnamon Spices website, where you can see a larger screenshot of the theme.

Showing information about one theme
Showing information about one theme

There are many desktop themes, but for this post I will install Minty, Windows 10 and Railway. You can use the search field to fin these theme.

Search for a theme in the desktop theme section
Search for a theme in the desktop theme section

After the selected themes are installed close the window, then, go the Desktop themes and select the one you like the most.

Windows 10 desktop theme

So, this is how Windows 10 theme looks like. Quite nice actually.

Windows 10 desktop theme
Windows 10 desktop theme

Railway desktop theme

If you like light blueish themes, Railway is very good.

Railway desktop theme
Railway desktop theme

Minty desktop theme

But my favorite is Minty theme. However, all depends of you. So, you can select what you like.

Minty desktop theme
Minty desktop theme

If you do not like some themes, you can go back to Add/remove desktop themes. Right click on the theme, and uninstall it.

Uninstall a desktop theme
Uninstall a desktop theme

It is always advisable not to have too many themes installed so as not to occupy unnecessary space.

Install themes from Gnome-look website

There are more desktop themes which are not available for install from within the Linux Mint settings. You can search for more themes at Gnome-look.org, but keep in mind that many of themes here are not fully compatible with Linux Mint Cinnamon desktop.

Note: Some of the themes that you can find there are obsolete. In other words, you need to spend quite some time to find something decent.

In order to find a desktop theme to change the Linux Mint themes, you need to look at GTK3 themes. For example, I found OSX Arc Collection.

Install themes from a .deb package

To install this theme, you have several options. The debian package and tar.gz archive. If you want the full theme pack, you need to install the deb package.

Dowloading OSX-arc-colletion theme
Dowloading OSX-arc-colletion theme

First, download it. Then, open it with Gdebi and install it.

Install the .deb file
Install the .deb file

This is a good way to install a theme. In fact, it is the easy way.

Install themes from archives (zip, tar.gz)

However, not all themes have deb package available. For example, some themes are available as archives (zip, tar.gz, etc). Installing such themes requires some more steps.

Install GTK3 theme

Chrome OS theme is available only in a zip archive.

Install Chrome OS theme from a .zip file
Install Chrome OS theme from a .zip file

To install it, first, download the archive → go to your Downloads folder → Extract it.

Extract the zip file
Extract the zip file

Next, move the extracted theme folder to .themes folder in your home directory.

Install the theme
Install the theme

Note: You can go to ~/.themes by typing it in the file manager path bar. Or you can show hidden files and navigate to .themes with your mouse. If you do not have the ~/.themes folder, simply create it in your user home folder.

Now, when you go to the theme settings, you will find the two new themes Chrome OS and OSX Arc Collection.

Two new Linux Mint themes installed
Two new Linux Mint themes installed

Install Windows borders

Following the same steps, you can install Windows borders. For that, you need to select Metacity Themes on Gnome-look website and select the theme you like.

Metacity themes on gnome-look
Metacity themes on gnome-look

For example, Gnomesmite theme looks quite nice. It resembles OS X. Let’s install it.

Gnomesmite is a nice theme
Gnomesmite is a nice theme

Again, Download the themes. Extract the archive. Then, move the extracted theme folder to .themes folder in your home directory. Identically as before.

Install Gnomesmite theme
Install Gnomesmite theme

Now, when you go to the settings, in the windows borders, you can find and activate the theme Gnomesmite.

Gnomesmite is installed
Gnomesmite is installed

Install Icons

Similarly, you can search and install Icons themes. Again, go to Icon Theme section on Gnome-look.org and find the theme you like the most.

Now, search for a icon theme
Now, search for a icon theme

For example, let’s install Plataro icon theme. It looks nice.

Plataro icon Theme
Plataro icon Theme

Again download the theme, then, extract the archive and move the icon theme folder to .icons folder.

Install Plataro icon theme
Install Plataro icon theme

Note: If you don’t have the .icon folder, you can create it.

Now, when you open the icon themes in the settings, you can select Plataro icon theme.

Select Plataro icon theme on the system settings
Select Plataro icon theme on the system settings

Controls themes

The themes for the controls are the most tricky. If you open it, you will see some themes I have just installed like, OSX Arc Collection.

Themes available to apply
Themes available to apply

Remember, I mentioned that some of these themes do not work correctly. For example, Windows 10 theme which we installed from within Linux Mint settings looks wrong.

Windows 10 theme it's broken
Windows 10 theme it's broken

Note: I was able to fix it to some extent by going to the .themes folder and inside the Windows 10 folder remove gtk-3.20 and rename gtk-3.0 to gtk-3.20. Next, log out and log in.

Mouse pointer themes

Changing the mouse pointer is the same. Search for Cursors theme on Gnome-look.

Cursors themes on gnome-look
Cursors themes on gnome-look

Download the theme you want. Extract the file and place it into .icons folder.

For example, the cursor theme I use in video tutorials is ycDmz.

ycDmz cursor theme
ycDmz cursor theme

Now you know how to install themes from Gnome-look.org. There are many themes but some give problems. So, you will have to do some tests.

Install themes from PPA repositories

So far I have taught you to install themes from system settings and from Gnome-look, but there are other places where you can find some themes. For example, from a PPA repository. A PPA is an external repository where developers can distribute their packages for Ubuntu and Linux Mint.

I would like to show you two nice icon sets.

Numix Icons

One is Numix Icons. These are very popular icons in different desktops. I like Numix Circle the most.

Numix Circle icon theme
Numix Circle icon theme

To install these icons, you need to open the terminal and run this command to add the repository.

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:numix/ppa
Add the repository PPA
Add the repository PPA

Next, you need to refresh the APT cache.

sudo apt-get update
Running apt-get update command
Running apt-get update command

Then install the icon theme from the terminal.

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

Install numix icons
Install numix icons

Now, the Numix icons should be available in your settings.

Numix theme available to apply
Numix theme available to apply

Uniform icons

Another icon set I would like to show you is Uniform icons.

Uniform icon theme
Uniform icon theme

These are very interesting and unusually shaped icons. The installation process is similar as for Numix icons.

Open a terminal and add the Noobslab repository.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:noobslab/icons2
Adding the external repository
Adding the external repository

Refresh the APT cache.

sudo apt-get update
Running apt-get update command to refresh APT cache
Running apt-get update command to refresh APT cache

Now you can install the icon theme.

sudo apt-get install uniform-icons
Install Uniform icon theme
Install Uniform icon theme

Now, several Uniform icon sets are available in the settings.

Uniform icon theme available on the system settings
Uniform icon theme available on the system settings

If you find a theme or icon set with PPA, you can install it the same way. Just be careful about the commands you run.

Install themes from Github

Sometimes when you search for a theme, you can end up at Github, which is a hosting for many open source project.

Let me show you how to install a theme from a Github by installing this nice iOS theme.

iOS 10 GTK theme
iOS 10 GTK theme

Usually, all the instructions are provided in every repository. Simply follow them. For example, this theme can be installed extracting the archive to .themes folder.

Github instruction for install this theme
Github instruction for install this theme

So, you already know the process, download the file, extract the archive and move it to .themes folder.

Install iOS theme
Install iOS theme

It is now available to apply in the settings.

iOS theme available on the system settings
iOS theme available on the system settings

Install themes from the Software Manager

You can also install some themes from your software manager. If you use Linux Mint Software Manager or Synaptic package manager it doesn’t matter. I prefer synaptic because it works little faster than the Mint Software Manager.

In Synaptic search for -themes or -icons.

Search for -themes
Search for -themes
Search for -icon
Search for -icon

There are no many nice themes, but some of them are very good. I recommend trying: numix-gtk-theme and gray-theme.

Install numix-gtk
Install numix-gtk
Install numix-gtk
Install gray-theme

Some more of my favorite icons and themes

Arc icons

I have also installed arc-icon-theme from Github which is another very nice icon theme. To install it, I followed the process you already know. Download the .zip file, extract it and move it to the .icons folder. However, arc icon theme requires Moka icon theme. To install Moka, I used Synaptic.

Install Moka-icon-theme package
Install Moka-icon-theme package

Flat icons

Another themes that I installed from Synaptic are ultra-flat-icons and ultra-flat-icons-orange. Install them the same way as Numix icons.

First, add the repository.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:noobslab/icons
Add the noobslab PPA
Add the noobslab PPA

Refresh the APT cache.

sudo apt-get update
Refreshing the APT cache
Refreshing the APT cache

Finally, install the themes.

sudo apt-get install ultra-flat-icons ultra-flat-icons-orange
Install ultra flat icons
Install ultra flat icons

Now, you can select what you like the most from this bunch of themes and icon packs.

Select the combination you want
Select the combination you want

My favorite combinations

Finally, I will show you my favorite combinations.

For the dark theme, usually I recommend:

  • Adwaite – borders.
  • Arc – icons.
  • OSX-Arc-Darker – controls.
  • OSX-Arc-Darker – desktop theme.
My desktop combination for the dark theme
My desktop combination for the dark theme

For light theme, I find quite pleasant:

  • Numix – borders.
  • Uniform + inkscape orange - icons.
  • Windows 10 – controls.
  • Mint Y– desktop theme
Light theme combination
Light theme combination

And if you want a theme resembling Mac OS X, ordinarily I recommend using:

  • iOS – borders.
  • Ultra-Flat - icons.
  • iOS – controls.
  • OSX-Arc-white– desktop theme
OS X theme combination
OS X theme combination

So, I hope you will find your favorite combination. And this is how you change the Linux Mint themes.

Conclusion

Generally speaking the customization is one of the biggest advantages of Linux. You can change the whole look with little effort. In addition, you can even mimic the look and feel of other operating systems. On the other hand, Linux Mint has a nice theme by default but everything can be improved.

You already know how to change the Linux Mint themes. So, let me know about other themes that you are using.

Also, check my other posts on Linux Mint, you will find many useful advice.

Average Linux User
Average Linux User I am the founder of the Average Linux User project, which is a hobby I work on at night. During the day I am a scientist who uses computers to analyze genetic data.