Currently running ubuntu 11.10. So I've been doing a lot of work on a new theme to match the physical look of my laptop which is a blue, black, white theme. Obviously orange visuals look out of place. Which leads me to the borders in unity workspace, and the highlight color you get when resizing windows (ex. snapping windows).

Screenshot 1

Screenshot 2

Really just have no clue where the config files for this is, or if it is even possible to change them. I would like to make all the orange you see in the two pictures blue. Any help is always appreciated.

  • Unity isn't known for being configurable. Have you considered maybe xfce if you want to tweak this stuff? – Ken Kinder Feb 23 '12 at 17:17
  • I test multiple Desktops, xfce included, I just prefer unity, and with 12.04 lts coming I would like to keep using it. I'm just a stickler for visuals. I know untiy isn't that configurable, and if this isn't possible I will settle for a simple no and move on. Thnx for advice. – nowerries Feb 23 '12 at 17:22
  • Turns out Unity isn't the window manager; Compiz is, so you can configure quite a bit of stuff. But be careful with ccsm; some of its settings conflict with Unity. – Ken Kinder Feb 23 '12 at 23:33
  • ALT is by Default Shortcut for HUD , do you mean HUD by Dash input bar at the top. – atenz Jul 3 '12 at 16:39

Both of them can be changed in Compiz Config Settings Manager.

sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager
  1. To change color of Workspace Switcher, the settings you need to change is under Expo settings. expo

After changing the color the expo looks like this:

after expo 2. To change this one, you need to go to Grid settings under Window Management. You can search these in the Search bar to find them.


After changing this one, the highlight will look like this:

after grid

These are some extra settings you can configure to change the appearance even better:

To change the color of Window Resize: resize

To change the color of Wall when you change the workspace: wall

These are some other questions which help you in changing the other settings (removing the orange color completely):

How to change color of unity workspace border, and window resize

How do I change the colors of the Ambiance & Radiance themes?

How to change the color of the scroll bar?

How do I set the background color/pattern in a Nautilus window?

How do I change the "Selected Items" color?

I think you might have already installed Ubuntu Tweak and MyUnity. These two combined with Compiz Config Settings Manager will make you get pure control over your desktop using GUI.

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  • Forbidden Overseer, thank you so much for your time. Cheers. :) brunces – brunces Jul 3 '12 at 2:59

I found your answer. You'll need CompizConfig Settings Manager. So install that if you don't have it:

sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager

Then run it:

ccsm &

You'll see under "Window Management", a "Resize Window" plugin. Click on the plugin text (not the checkbox next to it) to configure resizing:

CCSM - Resize

The "General" tab will have options for the resize color:

CCSM - Resize color

You'll find a similar option under "Expo Plugin":


Also... this isn't in your question, but if you want to tweak colors, try the Radiance/Ambiance color themes, which give you extra themes to tweak the colors all around your workspace. You'll need Ubuntu Tweak in order to use them. You'll see for example that I have a blue close box.

EDIT: You also may want to update the "Grid" plugin, which is used to tile your windows left/right, or maximize them when you drag them to the top of the screen.

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  • Sweet that's what I was looking for man. Already have ambiance color themes, they were the starting points for my own variations of the color themes. – nowerries Feb 24 '12 at 0:31
  • Just so you know I been trying to figure this one out myself for a few nights now, so this was a big help. I do believe I have nothing left to do as far as customising unity's visuals. On to KDE. – nowerries Feb 24 '12 at 0:36
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    Oh nice. You might consider posting a little guide on top-to-bottom theming for Ubuntu at some point. – Ken Kinder Feb 24 '12 at 18:04

Do you mean the HUD? The Dash pops up when you hit the Super (aka Windows key). As long as you hold down ALT while pressing another key, it shouldn't trigger it. On the other hand, you can change it easily (it defaults to left ALT). Open Keyboard settings, then click the Shortcuts tab. Under Launchers, change the "Key to show the HUD", by clicking on it and pressing the key(s) you want to change the shortcut to. You can also press backspace to disable the shortcut.

enter image description here

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You can change Dash settings with compizconfig-settings-manager. It's a gui for many compiz settings. I think the point you're searching for is found under window management. The program is not very usable yet, but you should be able to complete basic tasks with it.

Here is a screenshot (german version). I needed the program to make the unity sidebar smaller.

enter image description here

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A number of users have had problems with the CCSM application because of bugs. You can however change theme colors without it, there are three files you need to edit.

/usr/share/themes/{theme name}/gtk-3.0/gtk.css
/usr/share/themes/{theme name}/gtk-3.0/settings.ini
/usr/share/themes/{theme name}/gtk-2.0/gtkrc

In the beginning of these files you'll find 4 pairs of core foreground and background colors used in applications based on the gtk 2 and gtk 3 libraries. Pair base_color and text_color are used for the document or text entry portions of windows where bg_color and fg_color are are used for the windows area where icons and labels are displayed. Selected pair is for selected text and the tooltip pair is used for the tips that pop up when you hover over a button or link. These colors may be applied by applications with varying opacity or shadings. The color of text in buttons comes from the fg_color. These sets of labels appear in all three files so I've been changing all three to be the same for any label I change. Here's an example of what I changed in the gtk.css file in the Ambiance theme.

/* default color scheme */
@define-color bg_color #cdc3b8;
@define-color fg_color #262626;
@define-color base_color #accdff;
@define-color text_color #262626;
@define-color selected_bg_color #01b9fc;
@define-color selected_fg_color #ffffff;
@define-color tooltip_bg_color #A3D0FF;
@define-color tooltip_fg_color #023C79;

To change the orange color the one yo need to edit is the selected_bg_color. In my example I've gone after a shade of aqua. Having made this change you'll still have the orange color used for the close buttons on the title bar. To change those you'll need to edit the icons used. In the same folder where you found the gtk-2.0 and gtk3.0 folders you'll see a unity and a metacity-1 folder which contain the icons you'll want to recolor. In the unity folder change close.png, close_focused_normal.png, closed_focused_prelight.png and close_focused_pressed.png. You'll notice that icons have different shade of orange for indicating things like hover. You'll want to use similar shade variations of whatever color you choose. Once these are changed you can copy all four to the metacity-1 folder where they will have the same names.

You'll want to save your updated theme in case these themes are updated and therefore changed back to original colors.

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