Best Icons, Themes, Cursors & Wallpapers for Customizing Arch Linux

One of the reasons why people love using Arch Linux is its ability to customize.

You can customize other distros too. But with Arch, since you are packing everything one by one, you can choose to ditch something, add something extra or even use alternatives.

Speaking of customization, themes, icons and wallpapers are some of the easiest ways of customizing the looks of any Linux distro. The amazing Arch User Repository provides a huge number of themes for all desktop environments.

Want some recommendations on that? This article is all about that. I’ll be sharing some of my favorite themes, icons, cursors and wallpapers. In the last section, I’ll also share some tips on installing those themes on your Arch-based Linux distribution.

Best Themes

Here are the best themes, according to me. Feel free to agree or disagree.

1. Arc

Let’s start with the most famous (famous for a reason) desktop theme. Arc theme is a highly sophisticated theme that provides a gorgeous view. Arc theme comes in 3 variants. Arc theme modifies the sections of the window into clearly distinguishable parts. It is currently my favorite.

arc theme
Arc theme

To download and install the Arc theme, use the command below.

sudo pacman -S arc-gtk-theme

2. Breeze

Who isn’t impressed by the absolute elegance of the KDE Plasma desktop? Gnome-Breeze is the GTK theme that mimics this beauty on GTK-based desktop environments.

breeze
Breeze GTK

To download and install the Breeze GTK theme, use the command below.

sudo pacman -S breeze-gtk

3. Materia

Materia theme is a Material design for GNOME/GTK-based desktops. It supports most of the major desktops too with their respective packages. It’s pure white and dark or a blend of both looks sleek on desktops.

materia dark
Materia dark

To install the materia theme, use the following command:

sudo pacman -S materia-gtk-theme

4. Nordic

The nordic theme remains one of the most popular themes, not only for desktops but in different scenarios. For GNOME/GTK-based desktops, the Nordic theme is available in a couple of neat flavors.

nordic
Nordic

You can download your favorite Nordic flavor from this website. Or check more about the project from their GitHub page.

5. Flat Remix

Flat remix is kind of similar to the material theme, with pure black and pure white background colors to choose from. It offers a wide range of compatibility, including GTK4 and libadwaita.

flat remix
Flat Remix

You need to download the theme files for both gnome-shell and GTK-applications from the website and paste both to ~/.themes folder.

6. Graphite

A blend of dark and light colors, where, you will get round windows, with similar Nordic colors.

graphite
Graphite

Available in several variants, you should grab the theme files from the gnome-looks website. Also, there is a method to install the theme through the command line, which is mentioned on their official GitHub page. This offers to automatically apply libadwaita configs too. Check it out if you want that.

7. Qogir

Qogir is a flat Design theme, based on the Arc GTK theme.

qogir
Qogir

You can either download the theme file and install it or use their own method to install the theme, including libadwaita, mentioned on their official GitHub page.

8. Skeuos

skeuos
Skeuos

Download the files from gnome-looks. Install instructions are discussed later in this article.

9. Gruvbox

Gruvbox Material is a GTK theme based on the color palette of the Gruvbox Material for Neovim.

gruvbox
Gruvbox GTK

It offers several versions to choose from, like bordered, borderless, etc. Download and extract the required one and follow the procedure. Visit their GitHub source to learn more.

10. Sweet

The sweet theme holds a special place on many occasions, because of a little fancy look.

sweet theme
Sweet theme

Download the files from the website and take help from the above guide. Visit their GitHub page to learn more about the project.

Best Icons

Now that you have selected the theme of your choice, let’s take a peek at some icon packs to finish off the beautification.

1. Numix Circle

Once you have got a nice theme, nothing completes the desktop like Numix Circle icons. The Numix icon pack is colorful, vibrant, and more complete and consistent than any other custom icon pack.

numix
Numix-circle

To get Numix circle icons, use the following command:

yay -S numix-circle-icon-theme-git

2. Papirus

You will be familiar with papirus icon set, the popular and up-to-date icon pack. It’s been seen as default in Manjaro and is readily available in your package manager. It’s better to use the icon theme via the package manager so that you will get an updated icon theme when released.

papirus
Papirus

To install this icon set:

sudo pacman -S papirus-icon-theme

3. Flat Remix

Apart from the GTK theme, Flat-remix developer has a detailed icon set.

flat remix
Flat Remix

You need to download the files from the website and apply them as mentioned above.

4. Pop Icon

Although Pop-icon is a set of icons developed by Pop!OS, it’s a good candidate as an icon set for any desktop.

pop icon
Pop Icon theme

You can install Pop Icon theme by the following command:

sudo pacman -S pop-icon-theme

Best Cursors

Once both themes and icons are set, you can install a nice cursor pack, to enhance the overall look and feel of the desktop.

1. Material

material light
Material light

You can download it from here. Or if you want to know more about the development, visit their GitHub page.

2 Capitaine

capitaine
Capitaine

Download the files for this theme. Or visit their GitHub page.

3. Bibata

bibata
Bibata

Download the required files to install from here. For other installation methods and project information, visit the official GitHub page.

4. Vimix

vimix
Vimix

Download the icon pack to install. Or visit the GitHub page.

Best Wallpaper

1. Arch Linux

arch linux colorful logo
Arch Linux Image Credit: Wallpaperflare

Download

2. Material Minimal

material minimal
Material Minimal Image Credit: Wallpaperflare

Download

3. Arch Linux green Color

green color
Green Color Image credit: Wallpaperflare

Download

4. Linux, GNU, Unix

gnu linux
GNU, Linux Image Credit: Wallpaperflare

Download

5. Unix

unix
UNIX Image Credit: Wallpaperflare

Download

How to Apply Themes

Before you go on downloading the themes, you should make sure of a few things as prerequisites.

There are two places the themes/icons files can be placed:

  • ~/.themes and ~/.icons: You may have to create this folder in your home directory if it doesn’t exist. The themes/icons placed here will be available only to you (the logged-in user)
  • /usr/share/themes and /usr/share/icons: The themes/icons put in this folder will be available to all the users on your system. You need to be root to put files in this folder.

Normally, I suggest going with the former one which is ~/.themes. And you can save both icon and cursor files to the ~/.icons folder.

To do that, go to your Home directory. Press Ctrl+H to show hidden files and folders. If you don’t see the .themes directory, create it.

Alternatively, use this command in the terminal to create this directory:

mkdir ~/.themes
mkdir ~/.icons

Download and Extract GNOME themes

You can grab the theme files for the below themes from the links provided. Extract the downloaded theme file. Copy the folder and paste it into the .themes folder of your home directory (that you had created earlier).

Setting GTK4 themes

In some theme files, you have the provision to set the theme to GTK 4 apps like Nautilus and System Settings, etc. All the below themes mentioned have the option to set that.

Every theme here has GTK4 app support, the below settings work only for those installed by downloading from the gnome-looks website. If the theme is installed from the package manager, then, the theme will be placed in the /usr/share/themes directory. So, you may need to copy and paste some files from /usr/share/themes, rather than ~/.themes, which is easier and mentioned below.

Case 1 :

Go to the “gtk-4.0” folder inside the extracted themes folder. If there is an “assets” folder inside this folder, copy all the contents including the “assets” folder to ~/.config/gtk-4.0 directory.

assets folder inside the gtk 4.0 folder itself
Assets folder inside the gtk-4.0 folder itself

In some cases, the “assets” folder inside the gtk-4.0 folder will be a link to another location.

asset folder as a link
Assets folder as a link

In this case, go to the link target (this is obtained from the properties dialog as shown above), copy the assets folder, and paste it inside the ~/.config/gtk-4.0 directory instead of the link. Now paste the other contents in gtk-4.0 folder of the extracted theme except the “assets” linked folder to ~/.config/gtk-4.0 folder.

Case 2:

If you have an “assets” folder inside the extracted themes folder, and no “assets” folder inside “gtk-4.0” folder of the extracted theme, then copy this “assets” folder to ~/.config .

assets folder inside the themes folder
Assets folder inside the themes’ folder

Now, copy all the contents inside the gtk-4.0 folder of the theme to ~/.config/gtk-4.0

Case 3:

If you don’t find the “assets” folder in either themes’ folder or inside gtk-4.0 , then probably, it will be inside some other folder like gtk-3.0 of the extracted theme file. In this case, find the assets folder and copy it to the ~/.config folder. After that, copy all the contents inside the gtk-4.0 folder to ~/.config/gtk-4.0 folder.

One thing to remember. Each time you change the theme, you need to do the step with the respective theme.

Change the GNOME theme with the GNOME Tweaks tool

Once you have installed new themes, it is time to see how to use this new GNOME theme. You have the GNOME Tweaks tool installed for this purpose. Or install it using:

sudo pacman -S gnome-tweaks

Also, you need to install gnome-shell-extension-manager. and enable user themes extension. For this use:

yay -S extension-manager

You can use our guide on how to use GNOME Shell extensions.

Change the extensions using the tweak tool.

change theme using gnome tweaks
Change the theme using GNOME Tweaks

Note that, you should not tweak the appearance (dark/light) within GNOME system settings if you are following these methods.

Wrapping Up

Well, these are not by any means everything available. There are a huge number of icon packs in the AUR. But the ones that are impressive and complete to a certain extent are listed here.

Also, if you want to make the Flatpak apps also similar, you can refer to the article on how to apply GTK theme to Flatpak apps.

This is a subjective topic so go ahead and tell us your favorite themes and icon packs in the comments below.

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  • Hello Aquil Roshan. Nice article but when sharing on Twitter “Manjaro” (my distribution of choice) is misspelled “Manajaro”. Had to delete the tweet and then RT with correction. Also some icon packs don’t install from ” sudo pacman -Sy”, giving a “target not found” error in terminal, although I have the Arch repository enabled, but that one I’ll figure it out opening Pamac, which is Manjaro’s GUI for Pacman.
    Thanks for the article and have a great day.

  • Hi, I an a newbie for arch linux. Just want to know how did you get the no background property in laucher section in these desktop themes and in the Activities and user section.