Is it possible to customise the appearance of the Ambiance theme just for one user?

I have read about the possibility of doing this:

sudo vim /usr/share/themes/Ambiance/gtk-2.0/gtkrc

but could something be done to change:

  • just one setting


  • just one user?

Perhaps changing something in the user's .themes directory?

Notice: I would prefer not to copy the full theme to the user directory, just to provide an override mechanism after the "global" theme is applied, independently from the theme if possible, but anyway just specifying what needs to be different, not duplicating the whole theme definition.


It is possible.

  1. Start by installing Gnome Tweak Tool.
  2. Create a .themes folder in the Home folder of the user if it doesn't exist.
  3. Copy the /usr/share/themes/Ambiance folder to the .themes folder.
  4. Rename it to My_Ambiance or something else.
  5. Log out and in again with the user you want to modify.
  6. Modify the theme as you wish (I modified the css files manually)
  7. Open Gnome Tweak Tool and select My_Ambiance
| improve this answer | |
  • So I am actually forced to duplicate the theme, and there is no known way in the universe to use a simple "override" mechanism and just specify what should vary from the base theme? (upvoted this answer) – Robottinosino Nov 25 '12 at 16:09
  • I'm not aware on any "override" mechanisms, wordpress style. There might be a way to create an "empty" template with an include function but I guess it is more complex and require more technical competence. – To Do Nov 25 '12 at 17:13

Here's another way but it too depends on your ability to modify theme components. The Ambiance theme, and most other themes, has a gtk-2.0 folder and a gtk-3.0 folder.
To modify gtk-2 apps, you need to create a hidden file, .gtkrc-2.0 in your specific user's home directory. In this file you'll place mods that override the values present in /usr/share/themes/Ambiance/gtk-2.0/gtkrc.
To modify gtk-3 apps, you first need to decide where the code is located. For example, in /usr/share/themes/Ambiance/gtk-3.0 there are gtk.css, gtk-widgets.css, settings.ini, etc. Copy just the relevant file(s) over to the specific users ~/.config/gtk-3.0 folder and edit what you wish.
As described in the other answer, use Gnome Tweak Tool (but this could pull in a lot of other GNOME stuff which may or may not be desirable) or Ubuntu Tweak tool, which in my opinion is more versatile, to change to any other theme and back to your original theme. This step is necessary to get the changes to take effect.
In this way, you do not need to duplicate the entire theme or even create a ~/.themes folder. And all these changes don't need sudo.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.