I want to take an existing theme and customise the appearance of the unity panel to the way it appears in another theme. I can't find any documentation about how to modify the panel themes, and I've tried comparing several gtkrc files for different themes that have custom panels, moving around bits of text, but I can't figure out how it's done. Basically, I'm trying to put a dark panel with a gradient in the Orta theme.

Where do I find the answer?

2 Answers 2


The unity panel does use gtkrc files, the only way to change how it looks is to edit graphic files in /usr/share/unity/themes

Here is a little guide which can help - unity launcher colors and patterns

  • 2
    That article is talking about changing the look of the Unity Launcher. I think this question is asking about the panel (at the top). Jul 16, 2011 at 16:50
  • 1
    Thanks for the tips and the link. I understand that it has something to do with the gtkrc file, but I guess I don't understand the format well enough to modify it. Plus, I'm looking for a way to theme the "Panel," not the "Launcher."
    – ninjaaron
    Jul 18, 2011 at 19:31

Here is quick and dirty solution for your quiestion!

First things first, you will need to get .rc file for your panel, containg discription of how panel looks. You can write your own, or take it from the other theme.

For example, let's take this file from Ambiance theme at:


You need to copy it into Orta theme folder:


Now open the Orta .gtkrc (/usr/share/themes/Orta/gtk-2.0/) file scroll, it down, and type:

include "gnome-panel.rc"

Reselect Orta theme after that.

As I told, this is dirty solution and only shows how it can be done. For better looking you will need to write your own .rc file for panel. As for me, I think shiki-color panel looks nice in orta theme =)

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