How can I change the text font colour of my icons on my desktop. I have used gnome-color-chooser by choosing "Desktop" panel and changing to white colour on Colorize with but unfortunately, nothing was changed.

Please what can I do?

3 Answers 3


I'm on Ubuntu 11.10, Unity 3D mode. To change the color of desktop icon text, I used a text editor (gedit) to edit nautilus.css found here: usr/share/themes/Ambiance/gtk-3.0/apps/nautilus.css. The file I have has 81 lines with sections called desktop mode, browser window, and sidebar.

In the "desktop mode" section (lines 1-27), I edited lines 3, 12, and 20 affecting @bg_color, @fg_color, and @selected_fg_color, respectively. The color value can be expressed in words for standard colors such as black, green, red, yellow, etc. Or, you can use hex code in which case black would be #000000, for example.

In case the line numbers I cited don't match @bg_color, @fg_color, and @selected_fg_color,you may have to poke around a bit!

It's not easy for me to describe without knowing the correct technical terms but:

  • @bg_color affects the desktop icon text when not single- or double-clicked;

  • @fg_color affects the desktop icon text (i) when the icon is double-clicked (and the corresponding file is open), and even in some other situations which you'll have to figure out; and

  • @selected_fg_color affects the desktop icon text when the icon is single-clicked until something else is clicked.

I'm not really sure, but you may have to log out and log in to see the changes. Also, as suggested above, do back up the file before editing it.


If you're using the default Ubuntu setup, I don't think you can define the font colour of your desktop icons.

You can play around with a theme's colours (see related question), but the changes will be applied globally, instead of only affecting desktop icons.

Another option would be to use an alternative desktop manager such as PCManFM or Xfdesktop, but then again, it might be tricky to change the desktop icons' colours.

  • You can - it's a pain. My way is posted as an answer though it's vague. Hopefully someone can post an easier or more specific solution.
    – jwdinkc
    Dec 22, 2011 at 16:57

In /usr/share/themes/themename/gtk-3.0 are .css files you can modify font colors through gedit.

I did it simply through experimentation. Make a copy of the .css file and add "old" to the end of the file name. That way if things get too screwed up you can just replace your modified .css file with the original. I know you'll have to modify the gtk.css file in gedit.

You'll need to figure out the hexadecimal code to represent the color you want, and figure out where to put it in the .css. I used the preferences on my system monitor indicator to find the hexadecimal codes.

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.