When I maximize a window in Ubuntu 11.04, the close, minimize and maximize buttons change to these nice ones

Where are they located on the filesystem? I would like to build a theme out of them but want the originals.

3 Answers 3


Those icons get painted by Unity as fallback if the chosen theme isn't Ambiance or Radiance, so you won't find them in any directory.


they'll be in the theme directory. depending on whether this is a theme you installed, or one that came as a default with the system they'll be in:




typically window buttons appear in the metacity directory, rather than the gtk directory.

  • I can't find those specific buttons. I'm using the default theme, and all I've done to it is change the panel color to pure black. Then I noticed the close, min, max button icons changed too! But on a restored window, they are normal Ambiance icons. Only the maximized window has different ones.
    – nLinked
    May 25, 2011 at 17:59
  • In fact, I think they're the same Ambiance icons, but somehow they have transparency so the colors disappear.
    – nLinked
    May 25, 2011 at 18:04

The buttons in question for Ambiance are in /usr/share/themes/Ambiance/metacity-1. Each theme has it's own set using the same file names. You can edit these png files. I changed mine from orange to a shade of blue I liked. The system uses a base name like "close" and appends let's say "_focused_prelight.png" to get the file name for the state to display.

  • Thanks, have edited them to match the image above. Looks great, but the spacing on restored windows between each button is almose none. But the spacing between the buttons in the above picture is greater. Where can I edit this spacing to match the one above? I'm not sure which line it is in the metacity XML for this theme.
    – nLinked
    May 26, 2011 at 16:28
  • i believe what you'd need to do is edit /usr/share/themes/Ambiance/metacity-1/metacity-theme-1.xml. If you must make a backup so you can restore the file if things don't come out the way you want them. This xml file is very complex, so be careful.
    – fragos
    May 27, 2011 at 7:22

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.