I was wondering if there is a way to use custom system event sounds in Ubuntu 14.04?

The only settings available in the System Settings → Sounds tab is the default theme.

If so, must this be edited by hand, or is there an application that can access & modify the default system event sounds? Thanks for any help in advance.

  • did you ever found a way to do this?
    – Felipe
    Commented Jan 26, 2015 at 22:57

2 Answers 2


Assumption: we’re talking about Ubuntu (i.e. Gnome/Unity) 14.04 here not Kubuntu/Xubuntu/Lubuntu.

I’ve found it quite difficult to find a definitive answer about how the sound themes are supposed to work in Ubuntu, but here’s what I have figured out.

  • Sound themes are in folders under /usr/share/sounds (so if you want to add a downloaded sound theme that’s where you would extract it)
  • They contain an index.theme file and subfolders containing the sounds (I’ve only seen a stereo folder)
  • This is part of a freedesktop spec.

You can change the currently active theme using dconf Editor - just navigate to /org/gnome/desktop/sound/theme-name.

dconf Editor screenshot

Or you could do the same on the command line (or in a script):

gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.sound theme-name "ubuntu"

OK after doing some research, basically I found out ... THINGS DO NOT WORK THIS WAY anymore. Basically each program, or portion of a program in some instances, is supposed to control its own settings, including any sound alerts. It's basically not possible to have a program that communicates with, and can dictate to, each portion of the user interface. Some are easy to find, most are not. Just finding settings for them in say, your file manager, may be impossible! My, things HAVE changed in 10 years. Basically it's the way ALSA is designed, and most *buntu systems use it. So, it's not a bug! It's a feature!

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