DEV Community

Cover image for Customize Gnome Desktop To Look Like macOS

Customize Gnome Desktop To Look Like macOS

umekalu profile image Ume Abraham Kalu ・8 min read

Hey, today, I'll be walking on how to turn your Linux OS to look like macOS giving it a lively look and feel. This approach has been tested.

Here are some screenshots:

Alt TextAlt TextAlt TextAlt Text

Alright, let's get started. Firstly we need to install some tools that will enable us to customize our gnome. This tool is well known it gives us the ability to tweak things around in our gnome.

Stage 1 (Tweak tool)

open your terminal and type the following code. If you already have them installed you can skip to the next stage:

   sudo apt install gnome-tweak-tool gnome-shell-extensions chrome-gnome-shell
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

For Fedora users type:

sudo dnf install gnome-tweak-tool gnome-shell-extensions chrome-gnome-shell
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

Once done, open Mozilla Firefox and enter the URL, where we'll be activating the gnome browser extension that will enable us to achieve our goal.

Sometimes you might have done this already but if you haven't, you'll see click here to install browser extension option. Click and install it.

Now that we've activated the gnome browser extension, refresh your page to see the list of extensions.

Stage 2 (Gnome Browser theme extensions activation)

It's time to start installing the gnome extensions we need to spice up our Linux OS.

2.1) Type on the page search box User Themes when gotten click on the name to see more details about it (this extension Loads shell themes from user directory). On the page that opened at the right side of the name you'll see a toggle button, click to turn it on. If it's already 'on' just leave it. Once clicked, it'll pop up permission to install the extension, select install.

Do the same for these other extensions:

Frippery Move Clock,
Dynamic Panel Transparency,
Compiz windows effect,
Panel OSD

2.2) Okay, remember you installed a gnome-tweak-tool? Now open it.
Alt Text

2.2.1) Click on Windows at the side menu and activate Center New Windows

2.2.2) Click on Windows Titlebars at the same side menu and change Placement to left and close the tweak. (This is to change the position of your minimize, maximize, and close button

2.2.3) Search for extensions on your Linux global search. Sometimes it's separated from the Tweak tool. If yours is merged together within the Tweak tool, just click on Extensions and Activate Dynamic Panel Transparency, Compiz windows effect, and Frippery Move Clock if they're not yet active.

2.2.4) Click on the settings icon beside Panel OSD activation button, drag the Horizontal position[%] from 0%(left) to 100%(right) slider to about 98.0 or your required desire (this is the position where your popup notification will be showing). Do the same for the vertical axis as you wish. Click on show test notification to know its display position. If satisfied, close it.

Stage 3 (Themes installation)

We'll be installing themes here.

3.1) Navigate to using gnome Firefox (recommended). Here, we'll download "WhiteSur Gtk Theme". Click on the files menu under the displayed image and "download" WhiteSur-light.tar.xz and WhiteSur-dark.tar.xz. (Do not click the install button).

3.1.1) Navigate to your downloads or file downloads location, extract, and copy the extracted folder/directory.

3.1.2) Navigate to your home directory, here, we'll be creating two directories called .themes and .icons these are hidden directories which means we'll not see them if not set to visible. For us to access them, we'll click on the 3 dots icon at the top right corner of the window and select show hidden files

Alt Text

3.1.3) Paste the copied extracted WhiteSur-light and WhiteSur-dark into the .themes directory. Note! the extracted version are usually two folder levels so make sure the contents are one folder level. Eg. WhiteSur-light -> WhiteSur-light -> contents (this is two folder level and it will not work). It should be WhiteSur-light -> contents.

3.2) Open the Tweak tool

Alt Text

Click on Appearance at the aside menu, on the Applications value, click and select WhiteSur-light to get a light macOS look and feel or choose WhiteSur-dark to get a darkened version. Do the same for the shell value (note: do not click on the box with the directory icon).

3.3) You can also set the transparency level of your windows by clicking on the extensions menu of the Tweak tool, Dynamic Panel Transparency, then on the Settings icon next to it. A window will open, click on the Background menu, enable opacity by activating the Enable custom opacity. Here you can set the opacity of Unmaximized Opacity maybe 50% or to your taste.

At this point, you have managed to change the theme of your Linux OS. But we're not yet done.

Stage 4 (Icons and Cursor)

Alt Text

In the previous stage, we've successfully changed our Gnome theme. Now let's work on the icons and cursor.

4.1) Navigate through your browser (Firefox recommended) to Here we'll be downloading the BigSur icon theme for our icons theme. Click on the files menu under the displayed image and "download" BigSur-black.tar.xz (note: do not click on the install). Also, navigate to to download McMojave-cursors.tar.xz for cursor theme.

4.1.2) Just as in the case of the themes, navigate to your downloads folder, locate and extract the BigSur.tar.xz and McMojave-cursors.tar.xz

4.1.3) Cut/copy the extracted version to the .icons folder in the home directory which you created earlier.

Now, you'll have about 3 different folders in the .icons directory.

4.2) Open the Tweak tool, click on Appearance at the aside menu, on the Cursor value, click and select McMojave-cursors and on the Icon value change it to BigSur-black to get a darken folder theme.

Now your icon and cursor have been set.

Please permit me to sip my cup of coffee 🤓

Stage 5 (Cairo-dock)

Alt Text

5.1) Open your terminal and type the code:

sudo apt install cairo-dock
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode


sudo dnf install cairo-dock
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

5.2) Open the Tweak tool, and select Startup Applications, and add Cairo-Dock among the list.

5.3) Open the Cairo-Dock, grant access to the permission that popped up.

5.4) Navigate to to download mcOS BS for Cairo Dock a theme for Cairo-Dock. Download mcOS-BS-White.tar.gz and mcOS-BS-Dark.tar.gz

5.5) Right-click on the open Cairo-Dock and select configure, choose Themes from the top menu, click on Load theme menu, on the bottom right side of the window, click the box with upload icon and locate and select the downloaded mcOS-BS-White.tar.gz or mcOS-BS-Dark.tar.gz, click OK to load it.

5.6) Click Apply and confirm the changes made and close. Awesome!

5.7) Let's add Launcher (You may choose to ignore this if you like) but if you want it, right-click on the Cairo-Dock and select Add then Custom launcher. An icon like a Help icon gets added to the dock.

5.8) Right-click on the Cairo-Dock and select configure, select Current Items from the menu, right-click on Application menu, and remove.

5.9) Click and drag the New launcher to the top of the list. Rename the Launcher's name field to Launchpad, the Image's name or path field to Launchpad.png or Launchpad.svg whichever works for you. On the command to launch on click paste the below code:

dbus-send --session --type=method_call --dest=org.gnome.Shell /org/gnome/Shell org.gnome.Shell.Eval string:'Main.shellDBusService.ShowApplications()'
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

and click Apply and close.

Stage 6 (Albert-launcher)

Alt Text

Wow! We're really progressing. Now let us install Alber-launcher.

6.1) Open your terminal and type the following codes one after the other:

# Full example for Ubuntu 20.04
curl | sudo apt-key add -
echo 'deb /' | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/home:manuelschneid3r.list

sudo wget -nv -O "/etc/apt/trusted.gpg.d/home:manuelschneid3r.asc"

sudo apt update

sudo apt install albert
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode


sudo rpm --import

sudo dnf config-manager --add-repo

sudo dnf install albert
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

6.2) Open and run Albert

6.3) A permission to send data, you can choose No or Yes as you may wish.

6.4) First time running Albert you show set the hotkeys to launch it. Click OK and proceed to set your configuration key.

6.5) set the Hotkey to a shortcut-key you'll be using to open the albert launcher. Also, Set the frontend to be Widget Box Model, Terminal to be Gnome Terminal, Theme to be Arc Dark Blue or your own choice. Increase the Amount of results to the highest number.

6.6) Click on the Extensions menu and select Applications, Calculator, Chrome bookmarks, firefox bookmarks, files, External extensions, snippets, systems, Terminal, and WebSearch

6.6.1) Click on the Firefox option selected, and select Fuzy Search and **Open with firefox by default

6.6.2) Click on the Files option selected, and select Audio, Video, Document, Folders, and Images and close.

Stage 7 (Change login screen - Only for Ubuntu 20.xx)

Before we do this, make you have the path to the background you want to use ready.

7.1) Open your terminal and type in:

sudo apt install git libglib2.0-dev
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

7.2) Clone this git repo:

git clone
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

7.3) Change your login screen:

sudo ./focalgdm3/focalgdm3 --set
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

Follow the options on the terminal - 1 for Image, 2 for Color. Here we're only changing the image. So select 1.

7.4) Set your background image path which you already have. Eg: /home/..../filename.png

7.5) Use this to rest your login screen back to default if you don't like the changed background:

sudo ./focalgdm3/focalgdm3 --set
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

Wow! this is really a journey. I hope this helped you?

Thanks for your time.

If you like what I did feel free to:

Discussion (0)

Editor guide