With previous versions of Ubuntu, to install a new theme it would suffice to copy it to the ~/.themes folder. If I do the same on Ubuntu 15.04 the theme never shows up the Unity Tweak Tool or the Appearance tab of the Settings tool.

What is the correct procedure on Ubuntu 15.04?

Update: I have tried various things following the suggestions from Sadi below. I am able to install themes with these two procedures:

  1. Directly from a PPA (e.g. apt-get install);

  2. Compiling from source and then issuing something like sudo make install.

So far no theme copied directly into ./~themes or /usr/share/theme ever appears in the tweak tools; irrespective of folder permissions.

  • 1
    Have you checked the theme you've copied is complete? Otherwise it still works, but sometimes it is not listed because there's something missing, like the "unity" or "metacity-1" sub-folder. – Sadi May 11 '15 at 7:59
  • BTW I have never seen any of the themes around other than those default ones (Adwaita, Ambiance, Radiance) ever listed in the Appearance section of the System Settings. – Sadi May 11 '15 at 8:09
  • There is no unity or metacity-1 folder in this theme, but I do not recall this being an issue with previous Ubuntu versions. Is there anything I could do to get this theme functioning? Should I simply create one of those folders? – Luís de Sousa May 11 '15 at 8:26
  • Yes, this is something new, I think. Lately Unity DE uses the "unity" sub-folder for all window control buttons, and still requires the "metacity-1" sub-folder with at least the "*.xml" files". Without "unity" sub-folder, it fails to show window control buttons. In this case you need some manual tweak to get that theme working. For instance I sometimes symlink to another similar theme's sub-folders... – Sadi May 11 '15 at 8:35
  • Ok, I added the unity and metacity-1 folders in there, but the theme still does not appear in the Unity Tweak Tool. – Luís de Sousa May 11 '15 at 8:44

The themes listed in System Settings... > Personal / Appearance / Theme are usually none other than Adwaita, Ambiance and Radiance that come with Ubuntu.

You can install other GTK themes (including Window themes) via some PPAs or manually.

PPAs usually install such themes under /usr/share/themes but you can also manually install themes by also copying files to ~/.themes (or ~/.local/share/themes) as well as copying them to /usr/share/themes using root privileges as PPAs do, and in either way you should be able to see and select them in Unity Tweak Tool or Ubuntu Tweak.

Note: It might also be a good idea to create a symlink for /root/.themes to have GTK2 apps use the same theme also when running as root if you put your theme at ~/.themes.

Lately Ubuntu has begun using the unity sub-folder under a theme for window control buttons (Close/Minimize/Maximize) but it still requires the metacity-1 sub-folder containing at least a file named metacity-theme-{NUMBER}.xml - otherwise the theme will not be listed.


To install themes in Linux, you can use Unity tweak tool Unity which is available in Software center.

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Extract the theme file that you want to install.After extracting theme file, open terminal and move extracted folder to /usr/share/themes.

sudo mv path-of-extracted-theme-folder /usr/share/themes

When you have moved folder, open Unity tweak tool that you installed before. Click 'Themes' in Unity tweak tool and here you have the theme listed that you moved to themes directory.

  • I wouldn't recommend Gnome Tweak Tool, and I would also add that copying to ~/.themes is also acceptable... – Sadi May 11 '15 at 8:03
  • Why you don't recommend? Notice that I don't specify just gnome tweak, I said you can use gnome or Unity tweak tools – Maythux May 11 '15 at 8:06
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    Yes, it's the Tweak Tool of Gnome DE as different from the Unity DE, and it has stopped functioning "properly" under Unity for some time now. For instance, currently under Ubuntu 15.04 you see a large "hole" so to speak in its window which simply shows either the desktop background or the window underneath, and there are also other issues. I would say the Tweak Tool for Ubuntu/Unity is either Ubuntu Tweak or Unity Tweak Tool although this may be regarded as a matter of preference if you like ;-) – Sadi May 11 '15 at 8:17
  • Why The Downvote? – Maythux May 11 '15 at 8:26
  • Personally, I never Down Vote ;-) – Sadi May 11 '15 at 8:42

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