Customize Ubuntu Desktop

After installing a new Operating System that we intend to use for long, we start noticing the things we would like to customize according to our needs, preferences, and personal choices. It starts from the look & feel of the desktop, the arrangement of various applications installed on our system, the font and cursor size, brightness and display settings, date and time settings etc., among many other customizable features.

In this article, we will mention ways to change some of the basic settings that a user prefers to alter almost immediately after installing a new operating system. These are some of the things you may wish to customize on your Ubuntu 18.04 desktop application:

1. Change Your Desktop and Lock Screen Background

In order to customize most of the features of your desktop, you will need to access the Settings utility of Ubuntu OS. You can do so through the following ways:

a) Click the downward arrow located at the top right corner of your Ubuntu desktop and then click the settings icon located at the bottom left corner:

Access Ubuntu settings

OR b)

Type Settings in the Ubuntu Dash as follows:

Search for settings

OR c)

You can also open the Settings utility from the list of applications through the Show Applications button.

Show application button

In order to change your Desktop or Lock screen backgrounds, move to the Background tab in the Settings window and click on either the Background or Lock Screen option from the menu:

Background settings

You can choose a picture as a background either from the available list of wallpapers, upload one from your system, or use solid colors as your background.

Ubunru Wallpapers

2. Change Login Screen Background

Changing the Login screen, unlike the lock and background screen, is the real deal. You cannot simply change it through the UI; instead, you will have to follow these steps to change your lock screen:

Open the Terminal through Ctrl+Alt+T where we will need to do is modify the ubuntu.css file located under /usr/share/gnome-shell/theme.

Enter the following command to open the css file in gedit.

$ sudo gedit /usr/share/gnome-shell/theme/ubuntu.css

Search for the term ‘lockDialog’ by pressing Ctrl+D and entering this keyword in the search bar. This way you will be directed to the location where we want to make the required changes. This is the section of the file we will be editing: LockDialogGroup

You can see that the file noise-texture.png specifies the default image that Ubuntu uses as the lock and login screen background.

You need to replace the above-mentioned lines with the following ones:

#lockDialogGroup {
background: #2c001e url(file:///[fileLocation/filename.png]);
background-repeat: no-repeat;
background-size: cover;
background-position: center;
}

Replace the [fileLocation/filename.png] part with the location and filename of the image you want to use as the new background.

You can see how our CSS file looks after we have made the changes:

Save this file by clicking the Save button located at the top right corner of the text editor.

Restart your computer for these changes to take effect.

3. Add/Remove an Application from Favorites

A list of your favorite applications is maintained on Ubuntu desktop in the left-most vertical bar as follows:

Ubuntu favorite applications

These applications are the ones that you are most likely to use while working on your system. If you wish to add an application to this list, right-click the application icon from the list of applications and select the Add to Favorites option as follows:

Add application to favorite app list

Your application will be moved to the list of favorite applications and will be very easy to access.

You can also remove the applications that you are least likely to use from this list by right-clicking the application icon and selecting the Remove from Favorites option as follows:

Remove app from favorites

4. Change Text Size

If you wish to change the text size of everything that you see on your screen, Go to Settings and then click the Universal Access tab. From the left panel switch the Large Text button to On or Off depending on whether you want to see a large text size or the default one.

Change text size

5. Change Cursor Size

Ubuntu 18.04 allows you to change the cursor size through the Settings application. Click the Universal Access tab and then click Cursor Size under the Seeing column. You can choose the cursor size from an available list of sizes in accordance with your text size and Zoom screen settings.

Change cursor size

6. Activate Night Light

Your screen light is typically set to a blue light for better viewing. However, at night time this blue light puts an extra strain on our eyes; so a better option is to switch to a warmer light by activation the Night Light feature. Go to Settings, click the Devices tab and select Displays. Click the Night Light feature and set the scheduled time through the following dialog:

Activate night light

7. Customize Automatic Suspend When Idle

Ubuntu 18.04 is designed to put your system in suspend mode if you are inactive while running the laptop on battery(charger is disconnected). As we know, keeping the charger plugged in all the time is not a good practice for battery life. At times we require our system to be running on battery even if we are idle for more than a specific time. In that case, we will need to switch off our Automatic Suspend mode through Settings, Power tab and the Automatic Suspend option as follows:

Customize Automatic Suspend When Idle

8. Adjusting Date and Time

Operating Systems these days are set to fetch Date & Time and Time zones automatically through the internet. Suppose you do not have internet access or wish to change these settings for whatever reason, you can do so by opening Settings, clicking the Details tab and then selecting the Date & Time option. You can deactivate the automatic fetching of date, time and timezone and then set them according to your requirement as follows:

Adjust date and time

Through the eight basic settings described in this article, you can customize your Ubuntu 18.04 desktop for yourself according to your preferences. This will give you a feel of a personal desktop rather than the default desktop provided to you by Ubuntu. You will feel at home in the newly set up environment and work with ease for as long as you want.

8 Ways to Customize your Ubuntu 18.04 Desktop