In the Launcher it is possible to switch off the backlight of the icons.

How can I reach the same effect for the switcher icons? I would like to pass from this: switcher with backlight

to this (colored with GIMP):

switcher without backlight

I think it would be easier to identify the selected icon.

  • 1
    Because its so hard to identify which icon is selected I switched back to Unity 2D
    – OrangeTux
    Commented Apr 23, 2012 at 7:50
  • Another problem of variable backgrounds is that if you have a terminal (black) and an editor (white) underneath, it is really hard to quickly tell what icon is selected. Example screenshot: i.sstatic.net/Lm90V.png Commented Jun 5, 2012 at 8:27

2 Answers 2


You can replace the background image for the launchers with a transparent one. In a terminal, run the following (this is for Ubuntu 12.04, in 11.10 you'd change the path to say 4 instead of 5. For ubuntu 14.04 see the comments below):

  1. Backup the original:

    sudo cp /usr/share/unity/5/launcher_icon_back_150.png{,.back}
  2. Edit the file:

    gimp /usr/share/unity/5/launcher_icon_back_150.png
  3. In GIMP, press Ctrl+A to select everything. Then Del to remove it. Hit Shift+Ctrl+S to save it as a new picture to, e.g., /home/launcher_icon_back_150.png, and finally press Ctrl+Q to quit.

  4. Move the new image to the right place:

    sudo mv /home/launcher_icon_back_150.png /usr/share/unity/5/
  5. Log out and back in.

  6. If you want to go back, simply run:

    sudo mv /usr/share/unity/5/launcher_icon_back_150.png{.back,}

    and log out and back in again.

enter image description here

  • At 2013-10-23 (Ubuntu 13.10 Saucy) the image file is stored in /usr/share/unity/icons/launcher_icon_back_150.png and the edited image must be "exported" with Shift+Ctrl+E Commented Oct 24, 2013 at 0:02
  • 1
    At 2014-05-13 (Ubuntu 14.04 Trusty LTS) the image file is an svg file stored as /usr/share/unity/icons/launcher_icon_back_150.svg. The image can be edited with inkscape Commented May 14, 2014 at 1:22

MyUnity's launcher tab has a backlights parameter to do what you wish.

  • 1
    it turns off the launcher backlights but not the switcher backlights Commented Apr 21, 2012 at 8:37

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