8.2. Look and Feel Settings

Look and Feel lets you change your desktop background, choose fonts, screensavers, and themes, and customize window behavior.

8.2.1.  Changing the Desktop Background

The desktop background is the image or color that is applied to your desktop. You can customize the desktop background in the following ways:

  • Select an image for the desktop background. The image is superimposed on the desktop background color. The desktop background color is visible if you select a transparent image or if the image does not cover the entire desktop.

  • Select a color for the desktop background. You can select a solid color or create a gradient effect with two colors (where one color blends gradually into another color).

You can also change the appearance of your desktop background from within the Nautilus file manager. To use an image file as a background picture, drag it from the file manager and drop it into Desktop Wallpaper.

If you do not want any background picture, click No Wallpaper and select a desktop color instead.

8.2.2. Selecting Fonts

Use Font Preferences to select the fonts to use in your applications, windows, terminals, and desktop. The upper part of the dialog shows the fonts selected for the application, desktop, window title, and terminal. Click one of the buttons to open a selection dialog where you can set the font family, style, and size.

8.2.3. Configuring the Screen Saver

Use Screensaver Preferences to select or change your screen saver. A screen saver is a small program that takes over the display screen if there are no keystrokes or mouse movements for a specified duration of time.

You can select a Random screen saver (random selection of screen savers from a custom-defined list) or a Blank screen instead of a screen saver or Disable the screen saver function. Another option is to select a specific screen saver from the list of installed screen savers. The currently selected screen saver is displayed in the preview window on the right.

Use Activate after to determine when the screen should be made completely blank (if you choose the Blank screen option) or when the screen saver starts after there are no keystrokes or mouse movements. All time references are in minutes.

Select Lock screen when active to lock the screen when a screen saver is running. To unlock the screen, move the mouse or press a key on the keyboard then enter your password.

8.2.4. Choosing a Theme

A theme is a group of coordinated settings that specify the visual appearance of a part of the desktop. Use Theme Preferences to select from a list of preinstalled themes or customize the settings to your own preferences. The list of available themes includes several themes for users with accessibility requirements.

A theme contains settings that affect different the following parts of the desktop:


The visual appearance of windows, panels, and applets. Also the visual appearance of the GNOME-compliant interface items that appear on windows, panels, and applets, such as menus, icons, and buttons. Some of the controls setting options that are available are designed for special accessibility needs.

Window Frame

The appearance of the frames around windows only.


The appearance of the icons on panels and the desktop background.

The color settings for the desktop and applications are controlled using themes. You can choose from a variety of preinstalled themes. Selecting a style from the list overview applies it automatically. Theme Details opens another dialog where you can customize the style of single desktop elements, like window content, window borders, and icons. Making changes and leaving the dialog by clicking Close switches the theme to custom. Click Save Theme to save your modified theme under a custom name. The Internet and other sources provide many additional themes for GNOME as .tar.gz files. Install these with Install Theme. You can also drag new themes into the Theme Preferences window and drop them there.

8.2.5. Customizing Window Behavior

Use Window Preferences to customize window behavior for the desktop. You can determine how a window reacts to contact with the mouse pointer or to double-clicks on its title bar and define which key to hold to move an application window.

When several application windows populate the desktop, the active one by default is the last one clicked. Change this behavior by activating Select windows when the mouse moves over them. If desired, activate Raise selected window after an interval and adjust the latency time with the slider. This raises a window a short time after the window receives focus.

Application windows can be shaded (rolled up) by double-clicking the title bar, leaving only the title bar visible. This saves space on the desktop and is the default behavior. It is also possible to set windows to maximize when the title bar is double-clicked.

Select a modifier key to press for moving a window (Ctrl, Alt, or the Windows logo key).