The native dark theme on Ubuntu 20.04 looks really good. But, ever since I have moved back from PopOS, I have been experimenting a lot with icon packs, GNOME extensions, and desktop themes. To put it, here are the best Ubuntu themes for Ubuntu 20.04.
How to install Ubuntu themes
Before we begin with the list, it’s important to understand how themes work on Ubuntu. For instance, changing the theme in Ubuntu changes 3 things.
- Icons – File Explorer icons, Launcher icons, etc
- GTK – Looks of an application window
- Shell – Top bar, desktop notifications, activity overview, etc.
There are 3 basic ways to install a theme. You can either install it via the terminal or as a deb package. Additionally, few themes are available as archive files. You can download the archive files and transfer the icons and themes to “~/.icons” and “~/.themes” directory respectively.
In order to change themes, you would need to install the “gnome-tweaks” package and User Themes extension.
To completely apply a theme on your desktop, you have to change the 3 following options in GNOME tweaks.
1. Arc Theme
Arc Theme is the most popular theme for Ubuntu. It provides 3 different looks – Arc, Arc-Darker, Arc-Dark. I really liked the Arc-Darker theme which is a mix and match of the dark and light theme. Arc-Dark isn’t exactly black but a darker shade of Navy Blue. It doesn’t work well on the GNOME shell and leaves the calendar in a white patch. Additionally, you don’t get an icon pack with it, so you would have to rely on third-party icon packs.
If you are someone who prefers the light theme instead of dark, Arc Theme is a good option.
sudo apt install arc-theme
I recently moved back to Ubuntu from PopOS and I carried back the theme with me. The icons, shell, wallpapers are too good to leave. You can download the wallpapers from this link. I prefer the PopOS dark mode over Yaru and the shell is much refined. For instance, the notifications stacked up have much more padding between them.
Unlike Arc, the Pop theme is continuously updated due to the PopOS.
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:system76/pop sudo apt update sudo apt install pop-theme pop-icon-theme
3. WhiteSur GTK Theme
WhiteSur, as the name suggests, is based on the recently launched macOS Big Sur white theme. It turns your applications, shell, top panel, and dock to the macOS Big Sur look. But, in order to achieve the identical macOS Big Sur look, you will have to complement the theme with a GNOME extension called Dash to Dock and WhiteSur Icon Theme.
sudo apt install gtk2-engines-murrine gtk2-engines-pixbuf sudo apt install sassc optipng inkscape libglib2.0-dev-bin sudo apt update git clone https://github.com/vinceliuice/WhiteSur-gtk-theme cd WhiteSur-gtk-theme ./install.sh
Materia is another popular theme for Ubuntu. I liked the Materia-dark-compact theme which makes the Windows Titlebars pretty concise. Another small nuance is the ripple effect. In Materia, if you click on a button or an option, it gives a subtle ripple effect on the selected area.
sudo apt install materia-gtk-theme
Vimix Theme is based on the popular Materia theme. You would have to download both the archive files for the Vimix theme and the Vimix icon pack. Next, you just have to extract and run the “install.sh” script file in the terminal.
Vimix, unlike other themes, provides a huge number of options. You have approximately 15+ themes ranging from teal to ruby, beryl, etc. I liked the nuances in the Vimix theme. For instance, when you hover past the dropdown menus, there’s a shadow trail giving you the feel of motion blur. I did like that!
Ant is a plain flat theme for Ubuntu 20.04. In case you are more into the light theme, Ant is a fantastic theme to go by. Ant only supports GTK and GNOME shell. Hence, you might have to go with a third-party icon pack. I loved the blood accent on the white theme.
Sweet is the fanciest theme in this list. Rock with it with an icon pack like Candy or Luv and you would have a colorful desktop to look at. I loved the neon-pink accent to the Sweet dark theme. Apart from that, you get a Sweet (light) and Sweet Mars theme. Similar to McMojave, you would have to download and move the extracted archive to the “~/.themes” directory.
Cloudy is a good GTK theme sitting right in between the light and dark themes. It has 8 different variants that provide a combination of dark, light theme with blue and brown accents. I like that it draws a line between the icons and file-labels to make it look like a 3-pane window.
Although Cloudy does have a shell theme, it’s showing its age. It doesn’t look good with the DND and calendar on the notification shade. You’d be better of using the default Yaru shell.
git clone https://github.com/i-mint/Cloudy.git cd Cloudy mv Cloudy-* ~/.themes
Nordic is a minimal dark theme based on the Nord color palette. You can complement it with a blue color icon theme and a white flashy background for a minimal look.
Download Nordic Theme
Layan is an interesting take on Ubuntu themes. It turns every sharp corner on the desktop to rounded corners. Although Layan has options for both dark and light themes, I particularly liked the light theme more. Similar to Materia, you get a ripple effect when you click on an option.
https://github.com/vinceliuice/Layan-gtk-theme.git cd Layan-gtk-theme ./install.sh
11. Flat Remix GNOME
Flat Remix GNOME is a gorgeous looking theme with its own icon pack, GTK, GNOME shell theme, and wallpapers. You have a lot to choose from. I really liked the Flat-Remix-Miami theme. It brings a lot of subtle yet poppy colors to the shell. Another subtle change is that the theme makes the Topbar transparent. This really makes your desktop look slightly bigger. The theme also adds extra drop-shadow to the windows and dropdowns.
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:daniruiz/flat-remix sudo apt update sudo apt install flat-remix-gnome flat-remix-gtk flat-remix
Adapta is another popular theme for GNOME desktops. You can directly install it from the Ubuntu store or apt repository. The theme is being regularly updated but the GNOME shell theme’s a bit wonky. Similar to Arc, it left a white patch on the calendar in the notification shade. However, you can still combine it with the default Ubuntu GNOME shell theme and it’s good to go.
sudo apt install adapta-gtk-theme
Similar to Ant, Lumiere is a fantastic light theme. I could find a GitHub repo with a whole bunch of different themes. It also has a dark edition called Fantome. You can clone the repo and see what suits your need. The themes don’t have a shell and icon theme. So, you would be better of going with Yaru as shell and Yaru icon pack.
git clone https://github.com/addy-dclxvi/gtk-theme-collections mv gtk-theme-collections ~/.themes
14. Orchis Theme
Orchis is a plain dark GTK theme based on Materia. It converts the dock and the top panel to a translucent bar.
Download Orchis Theme
15. Yaru Colors
Yaru Colors isn’t a full-fledged desktop theme. It just adds a tinge of color to the existing Yaru theme. It provides a whole 12 different colors.
git clone https://snapcraft.io/yaru-colors cd yaru-colors ./install.sh
I mostly switch between the Vimix dark and the Pop Dark theme. Let me know what you use.
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