I would like to change the white background of my file manager. (I really searched everywhere and tried a lot of things.)

I was trying to change CSS files of my theme (GTK2 & GTK3 folders) and I tried others themes too, but no luck so far.

I wish to change the "eye-killing" white to grey, In Windows you could just change that easily with the theme changer.

In Xubuntu (I'm using XFCE), this seems impossible.I switched back to Ubuntu, but there I couldn't change this, even they’re using same principles.

enter image description here

Could anyone give me a hint where I change this annoying white background?

Thanks in advance.


You can try to change the "gtk_color_scheme" (gtk-2) or "default color scheme"(gtk-3) defined in the "gtkrc" or "gtk.css" files of your theme.

AS vasa1 explains in this answer, there are advantages to keep the themes in you ~/.themes folder.
Because will be user-specific and not system-wide and you do not need sudo to edit them.

Here you have an example.

In this case I'm running Xubuntu 13.04 with the default them "Greybird".
I only edit the gtkrc file (gtk-2) because Thunar (As far as I know) is a gtk-2 application.

1) Open a Terminal window and type:

  • sudo mousepad /usr/share/themes/Greybird/gtk-2.0/gtkrc

Search for the line nuber 6, and change the base_color from #fcfcfc to #CECECE

enter image description here


gtk_color_scheme = "bg_color:#CECECE\nselected_bg_color:#398ee7\nbase_color:#fcfcfc" # Background, base.


gtk_color_scheme = "bg_color:#CECECE\nselected_bg_color:#398ee7\nbase_color:#CECECE" # Background, base.

2) Logout and Login to see the changes.


enter image description here


enter image description here

Also you can edit the file gtk.css for the (gtk-3) applications.

  • sudo mousepad /usr/share/themes/Greybird/gtk-3.0/gtk.css

You can change the @define-color base_color from #fcfcfc to #CECECE

NOTE: This is just an example, please change the settings according to your needs.

Hope it helps.

  • 1
    @vasa1...thanks for your suggestion. I edited my answer. Please feel free to add new info or edit the answer. – Roman Raguet Sep 15 '13 at 3:37
  • 1
    You may already know about this but Xubuntu 13.10 will bring a GUI to make at least some changes to themes without users having to edit theme files by hand: A new tool to change your theme colors, gtk-theme-config (not installed by default, yet). It's already available but not from the Software Center. It's been made by one of the Shimmer theme authors. – user25656 Sep 15 '13 at 3:56
  • Roman Raguet, I just don't know how to thank you for your excellent step-by-step post. I wished I have more reputation to give you points for this. Your post inspired me to help others with questions/problems, when I've gained any experience with my new Ubuntu/Debian system. Thank you for your help, it is much appreciated! – Martin Jansen Sep 15 '13 at 9:05
  • Glad to Help. @vasa1 gave us useful information for the post. – Roman Raguet Sep 15 '13 at 11:49
  • Perhaps you know where I can find the settings for [url=cinnamon.linuxmint.com/?p=198]Nemo[/url]. I changed the GTK2.0, without results. But I cannot find another settings of Nemo. – Martin Jansen Sep 22 '13 at 0:17

I found a great answer in another post How do I change to a theme not listed in the Appearance screen?

oh, and this still applies to ubuntu 16.04, which I have running...

just install gnome-tweak-tool and my newly installed dark themes were there (or whatever non-white bkgd themes you choose to install), they apply to thunar, nautilus, system monitor bkgds...... phew.....

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