GNOME3 Modifying the desktop appearance

Modifying the look and feel of the GNOME 3 desktop is generally straight forward.

I prefer to use the command line, but there is a tool that will let you tweak most things as well.

This page is currently work in progress as I figure out stuff I’ll add it to the list above.

Changing the background

One of the first things I discovered when I installed GNOME 3 was that although it is quite easy to change the background images by right clicking on the desktop, you can only select images from ‘/usr/share/backgrounds/gnome/’ or your ‘home’ folder.

Obviously if you can become a superuser you can copy your own images to this folder, but if not you can configure the desktop to display an image from another location using the command line.

$ gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.screensaver picture-uri \
> 'file:///usr/share/backgrounds/custom/beach_hut.jpg'
$ gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.background picture-uri \
> 'file:///usr/share/backgrounds/custom/beach_hut.jpg'

Any changes will take effect immediately.

GNOME3 Custom background

Installing the GNOME3 Tweak Tool

This handy utility lets you tweak the appearance of the GNOME 3 desktop, but you need to be careful with some of the settings (particularly the window scaling as you can easily make the tweak tool window itself too big to be able to change this setting back without resetting everything to the default settings – as I found out the hard way!). One thing I found that DID NOT work was the setting to remove the application menus from the top bar.

As usual to do this you need to be running as a super user.

$ su


$ sudo -i

Then you just need to install the ‘gnome-tweak-tool’ package.

# # apt-get install gnome-tweak-tool
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree
Reading state information... Done
The following extra packages will be installed:
gir1.2-notify-0.7 python-gi
Suggested packages:
The following NEW packages will be installed:
gir1.2-notify-0.7 gnome-tweak-tool python-gi
0 upgraded, 3 newly installed, 0 to remove and 0 not upgraded.
Need to get 665 kB of archives.
After this operation, 2,170 kB of additional disk space will be used.
Do you want to continue? [Y/n] y
Get:1 ... jessie/main gir1.2-notify-0.7 amd64 0.7.6-2 [19.8 kB]
Get:2 ... jessie/main python-gi amd64 3.14.0-1 [494 kB]
Get:3 ... jessie/main gnome-tweak-tool all 3.14.2-2 [152 kB]
Fetched 665 kB in 0s (687 kB/s)
Selecting previously unselected package gir1.2-notify-0.7.
(Reading database ... 42614 files and directories currently installed.)
Preparing to unpack .../gir1.2-notify-0.7_0.7.6-2_amd64.deb ...
Unpacking gir1.2-notify-0.7 (0.7.6-2) ...
Selecting previously unselected package python-gi.
Preparing to unpack .../python-gi_3.14.0-1_amd64.deb ...
Unpacking python-gi (3.14.0-1) ...
Selecting previously unselected package gnome-tweak-tool.
Preparing to unpack .../gnome-tweak-tool_3.14.2-2_all.deb ...
Unpacking gnome-tweak-tool (3.14.2-2) ...
Processing triggers for hicolor-icon-theme (0.13-1) ...
Processing triggers for desktop-file-utils (0.22-1) ...
Processing triggers for mime-support (3.58) ...
Setting up gir1.2-notify-0.7 (0.7.6-2) ...
Setting up python-gi (3.14.0-1) ...
Setting up gnome-tweak-tool (3.14.2-2) ...

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