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When I downloaded a theme, .tar.gz or .gz or some kind of format like that. When I opened it, it was just a folder full of files. How do I make it a theme or something?

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Some theme authors include an install script in the archive; if you find a file called INSTALL or something similar, extract the archive to a folder that is preferably easy to get to. Then open the terminal and cd to the applicable folder (probably ~/Downloads by default). Then in terminal, run ./[Name-of-Install-Script] to install.

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You will need to open your archive manager as root. Use Alt+F2 and type gksu [packagemanager] where [packagemanager] is the command for the archive manager. (In not too heavily changed Ubuntu installations, this is file-roller.) Open the file, then extract the entire package to the directory /usr/share/themes (or /usr/share/icons for cursor themes or icon themes).

Next, you will need a program to apply the theme. I suggest the GNOME Tweak Tool. Install this by opening the terminal and typing these commands, one by one:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ricotz/testing
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install gnome-tweak-tool

Once this is done, you can either search for the tool in the HUD or run it directly by pressing Alt+F2 again and typing gnome-tweak-tool. In the dialog that appears, there should be some options on the left for "Theme". Click that, and change the theme settings to your liking. The effect should be immediate.

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    You can extract the contents to ~/.themes (or ~/.icons) if you want changes to be available to only the current user. – Swarnendu Biswas May 24 '14 at 0:39
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The Community Wiki recommends that you extract the archives into either ~/usr/share/themes or icons to ~/usr/share/icons.

The recommended application to manage themes, unity-tweak-tool, is available from the Ubuntu Software Center.

From terminal:

sudo apt-get install unity-tweak-tool

Alternatively, you can visit the project page http://ubuntu-tweak.com/ and download the debian file package. Ubuntu-tweak offers more configuration options than just customizing unity themes.


I had previously copied the recommendation for the Myunity tool from the Community Pages, but it is no longer receiving popular attention. The only thing close to an explanation that I could find in the forums. Searching this site, it seems that MyUnity is 3rd party software and is the solution for Ubuntu 12.04, but that the unity-tweak-tool is preferred for newer releases (my inference).

Additional edits incorporate advice from this answer.

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