There are plenty of GNOME Shell themes with transparent panels, and I might want a transparent window border / titlebar theme to go with it. The closest thing I can think of is Emerald, but that only works with Compiz AFAIK and GNOME Shell only works with Mutter.


Since the release of Ubuntu 12.10, gconf-editor has been officially replaced by dconf-editor. So the answer by Ringtail will not work.

To enable Window Titlebar transparency in Ubuntu 12 onwards:

  1. Open a Terminal (Ctrl+Alt+T)
  2. Copy and Paste the following line:

    sudo apt-get install dconf-tools
  3. Press Enter and install the package.
  4. Once installed, run dconf-editor in the terminal.
  5. Navigate to org/compiz/gwd
  6. Now change the values of the following to anything between 0 and 1:

  7. Now you've changed the transparency of the Window Titlebars.

I couldn't get the other methods to work in Ubuntu 19.04 so I resorted to editing the gtk.css file:

nano ~/.config/gtk-3.0/gtk.css

Here is the code I used:

/* add a 3-pixel border around windows */
decoration {
    border: 5px solid rgba(10, 10, 10, .3);
    background:rgba(10, 10, 10, .3);

/* customize the titlebar for active window */
.titlebar {
    background: rgba(10, 10, 10, .3);
    border-top:solid 1px rgba(10, 10, 10, .3);

/* customize the titlebar for background windows */
.titlebar:backdrop  {
    background: rgba(10, 10, 10, .5);

Once the file is saved, run this command to apply your changes:

setsid gnome-shell --replace

See below for the final result.

Gnome on Ubuntu 19.04 with windows that have transparent titlebars and borders

  • Thank you, it works with most of the apps but not with some apps such as nautilus, gedit, etc.
    – kenn
    May 23 '20 at 14:16
  • I dont see a gtk.css file
    – Jayden W.
    Jul 16 '20 at 17:26

You can change the window border transparency using the gconf-editor. You can change the window transparency for all the window borders or for active window borders. To change the window borders transperancy you need to have the gconf-editor installed.

To install the gconf-editor open a terminal window (press Ctrl+Alt+T) and copy+paste the following line:

sudo apt-get install gconf-editor

To start the gconf-editor press Alt+F2 and type: gconf-editor.

When the configuration editor is open click on apps -> gwd and change the value of the metacity_theme_active_opacity and the metacity_theme_opacity to a value lower then 1.0. To change a value all you have to do is double click on the name and change the value in the edit key window.

metacity_theme_active_opacity: changes transperancy for active window borders

metacity_theme_opacity: changes transperancy for all window borders


  • Sorry, but this doesn't work for me, even after logging out and doing a reboot. I think gconf is supposed to be deprecated in favor of dconf, anyway. Mar 8 '12 at 3:00
  • I will keep an eye out for a better way
    – Ringtail
    Mar 8 '12 at 3:53
  • The answer 1 works fine.
    – Hanynowsky
    Mar 14 '12 at 12:26
  • @Hanynowsky Mark as approved the answer that worked for you. Aug 18 '13 at 14:05
  • 1
    @GediminasJeremiahGudelis I already voted it up! The poster of this question is not me but WarriorIng64
    – Hanynowsky
    Aug 19 '13 at 15:49

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