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If you like Linux but enjoy the Mac aesthetic, you’re in luck! This article will guide you through the steps to make your Linux desktop behave and look like Apple’s macOS.

One of the great benefits of Linux is how you can shape it as you see fit. There are lots of different ways to customize your own desktop — you can even change how your icons look 9 Beautiful Alternatives To The Default Linux Icon Sets 9 Beautiful Alternatives To The Default Linux Icon Sets Here's how you can switch icon sets, and which ones I recommend trying out. Read More ! Macintosh desktops have two defining features: the application dock and the menu bar. This guide will try and imitate them on Linux, along with other things.

Basic Theming

Before anything else, if you want your desktop to look like a Mac’s, you’ll need to install the right themes. A Linux theme called macOS Sierra does exactly that. To download it, enter these lines into your terminal:

mkdir $HOME/.themes

You may already have a .themes folder (you’ll know if the terminal puts out an error). If that’s the case, just skip this command. Next:

cd $HOME/.themes
wget https://github.com/B00merang-Project/macOS-Sierra/archive/master.zip

If you don’t have Wget Mastering Wget & Learning Some Neat Downloading Tricks Mastering Wget & Learning Some Neat Downloading Tricks Sometimes it's just not enough to save a website locally from your browser. Sometimes you need a little bit more power. For this, there's a neat little command line tool known as Wget. Wget is... Read More , just copy the link into your browser and download it manually. Make sure to place it in the .themes folder!

unzip master.zip

Icon Themes

The Gnome Yosemite icon theme closely matches the macOS appearance. Like application themes, the way to adjust them varies between desktops. The terminal commands below just focus on installing it:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:numix/ppa && sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install numix-icon-theme-circle

This theme is based off the Numix Circle icon theme, so the commands above install it first.

sudo sh -c "curl https://raw.githubusercontent.com/Foggalong/hardcode-fixer/master/fix.sh | bash"
curl https://raw.githubusercontent.com/ActusOS/GnomeYosemiteIcons/master/download_from_github.sh | sh

The second command downloads a script that automatically installs and sets Gnome Yosemite as your icon theme. If the commands don’t work, make sure you’ve installed cURL Get cURLy: 10 Useful Things You Can Do With cURL Get cURLy: 10 Useful Things You Can Do With cURL The Linux Terminal has so many ways to interact with, and manipulate data, and perhaps the best way to do this is with cURL. These 10 tips and tricks show you just how powerful it... Read More first:

sudo apt-get install curl

The Plank Dock

Apart from the Unity desktop, the other guides will assume you have Plank. It’s a taskbar that integrates well with the Linux macOS theme. To install it, type this command in to your terminal:

sudo apt-get install plank

After this, launch the dock by entering the ALT+F2 shortcut, and typing in plank –preferences.

Regardless of your desktop, this should start up Plank, along with its configuration window. In the Appearance section, change the Theme to Gtk+. This will make the dock look like the one in macOS once you make some adjustments later on.

If you want to hide that anchor icon, you’ll need to change a hidden setting. To do this, enter this command into your terminal:

gsettings set net.launchpad.plank.dock.settings:/net/launchpad/plank/docks/dock1/ show-dock-item false

Make Unity Look Like macOS

The Unity desktop is generally found on Canonical’s Ubuntu operating system 10 Ways to Make Ubuntu 16.04 Feel Like Home 10 Ways to Make Ubuntu 16.04 Feel Like Home Ubuntu 16.04 is an LTS release, so you get five years of updates, and not have to worry about installing a new version for a while. But what do you do once you've installed Ubuntu... Read More . Since it takes some cues from macOS, it’s also really easy to change.

As you can see, Unity already has a dock and a menu bar by default. All you need to do is make some visual adjustments. This is easily achieved using the Unity Tweak Tool, which allows you to change some hidden desktop options. Install it with this terminal command:

sudo apt-get install unity-tweak-tool

Having installed it, open up the tool by searching for it in the Unity menu. Then go to Launcher > Appearance > Position. You’ll see that the application dock has two changeable positions: one on the left (by default), and one on the bottom (like macOS). You’ll want to select the Bottom position.

Final Touches

In the Unity Tweak Tool, return to the Overview menu. From there, go into the Theme entry located under the Appearance category. From there, select the Macos-sierra-master theme. Your applications should now have a very Mac-like feel to them.

The theme also comes with a nice wallpaper. To get to it, first hit Ctrl + L in the file manager. This allows you to enter in a location:

/home/USER/.themes/macOS-Sierra-master/

Here you’ll find an image named Wallpaper.jpg. Setting it up is easy using Unity’s file manager — all you have to do is right click on an image, and select the Set as Wallpaper option.

By default, Unity’s menu-bar only shows options when you hover your mouse over it. To make it behave like macOS, open your System Settings app, then go to Personal > Appearance > Behaviour > Menu visibility. Select the always displayed option underneath it.

GNOME

Unity is based on GNOME 8 GNOME Shell Extensions that Improve the Interface 8 GNOME Shell Extensions that Improve the Interface After using GNOME for a while, you may wish to change a few things about the overview mode, or even tweak the panel. These eight extensions help you do just that! Read More , so it makes sense that both desktops are very similar to each other. As such, there’s not much you need to change.

The Dock

If you followed the instructions at the beginning of the article, you should now have a dock. However, to keep using it on reboot, you’ll need to add it to your startup applications. The easiest way to do this is through the GNOME Tweak Tool. Install it with this command:

sudo apt-get install gnome-tweak-tool

Open up the program by typing in gnome-tweak-tool to the terminal. Alternately, you can just search for the program in your activities menu. Navigate to the Startup Applications entry. From there, just add Plank. If it’s already running, you won’t have to search for it — it’ll be right at the top.

Changing the Theme

Inside the GNOME Tweak Tool, go to the Appearance section. Change the GTK+ theme 4 Drop-Dead Gorgeous Gnome Themes [Linux] 4 Drop-Dead Gorgeous Gnome Themes [Linux] As an avid Linux user I know quite well how customizable my desktop really is. Whether it comes to the desktop shell, or the window borders, or the menu colors, or even the icon theme,... Read More to MacOS-Sierra-master. Both your application windows and the Plank dock should change in appearance. As a final touch, change your wallpaper by heading to the Desktop section in the Tweak Tool. In there, click on the Background Location button.

You’ll be presented with a way of choosing a new wallpaper. A Mac-like one is located with your theme (named Wallpaper.jpg), so navigate to it at ~/.themes/macOS-Sierra-master. You might have to show hidden files to see this folder. If that’s the case, right click in the file selection window, and click the Show Hidden Files entry.

Plasma

With the release of Plasma 5.9, it’s possible to make KDE’s signature desktop very much like a Mac. Unfortunately, because of how new it is, many Linux operating systems won’t ship it yet. I recommend using KDE Neon How to Enjoy the Latest KDE Plasma Releases With KDE Neon How to Enjoy the Latest KDE Plasma Releases With KDE Neon Want a pure KDE experience with updates received as quickly as possible? If so, then you really ought to consider KDE neon. Read More to make use of it — it should be relatively stable and reliable.

KDE’s offering prides itself on its power and flexibility. As such, it can match macOS in appearance a little more than GNOME can. However, it’ll take a bit more work.

Plasma’s Menu Bar

As of Plasma 5.9, you can now have a global menu just like macOS. To start off, right-click on your desktop, and select Add Panel > Application Menu Bar. You’ll get a blank panel at the top of your screen. Click on the hazard sign inside it. This will open up a settings window that will let you change how application menu bars are displayed.

Go to Fine Tuning > Menubar style > Application Menu widget. Once you’ve applied this setting, the hazard sign should go away, and application menus should show up on top. For some reason, while the menu bar was visible in Firefox, it wasn’t functional. Your mileage may vary!

Once you’re done with this, fill the panel with some suitable widgets, by right-clicking on it, and selecting the Add Widgets option. I suggest using similar widgets to the bottom panel. After all this, remove the bottom panel by clicking on the hamburger menu and selecting More Settings > Remove Panel.

Starting Plank Automatically

In your System Settings, go to Workspace > Startup and Shutdown > Autostart > Add Program. You should be able to find Plank located under Utilities. This stops you from manually starting the dock every time you log in to your desktop.

Adjusting Appearance

Interestingly, Plasma puts its icon themes in a different location. Because of this, you’ll need to move your macOS icon theme folder elsewhere. Use these terminal commands to do this:

cd $HOME/.icons
cp -r GnomeYosemiteIcons-master/ ../.local/share/icons

Now, when you open up your system settings, and go to Appearance > Icons, you should be able to select Yosemite Icons as a theme.

Having done this, return to the settings menu, and go to Appearance > Application Style > GNOME Application Style. Under the GTK Themes section, select macOS-Sierra-master. Then, change your icon theme to Yosemite Icons.

Then, go to Window Decorations, and select the Get New Decorations option. Search for a theme called Breezemite and install it. Set it as your decoration theme.

Finally, to hide the toolbox in the corner of your desktop, click on it and select Configure Desktop. In the Tweaks menu that will pop up, disable the Show the desktop toolbox option.

Cinnamon

Without any modifications, the Cinnamon desktop Spice Up Your Cinnamon Themes – It's Easy! Spice Up Your Cinnamon Themes – It's Easy! Ever wanted to customize your Linux desktop, but just couldn't find that one perfect theme? If Cinnamon is your current desktop environment, creating your own theme is easy to learn. Read More looks more like Windows than macOS. Fortunately, this is very easy to change.

Move the bottom panel to the top by right-clicking on it, then going to Modify panel > Move panel. This should leave you with something a bit more Mac-like. Afterwards, remove the desktop icons in the panel by right-clicking on them, and selecting the Remove option.

You may also remove the window list applet (if you prefer it to a global menu) by right-clicking on it, selecting Configure the window list, then clicking the Remove button.

Adding a Menu Bar

An extension for Cinnamon called Global AppMenu provides the desktop with a menu bar. The app itself is apparently going to be ported to GNOME soon, but at this point in time, it works fine. To install it, enter these commands in:

cd ~/.local/share/cinnamon/applets/
wget https://github.com/lestcape/Global-AppMenu/archive/master.zip
unzip master.zip

Having done this, you need shift the extension so Cinnamon can see it.

cd Global-AppMenu-master
mv globalAppMenu\@lestcape/ ../

Feel free to remove the unneeded folders afterwards:

rm -rf Global-AppMenu-master master.zip

Having done this, you should now be able to add the Global Application Menu applet to your panel. You can also drag it to a place of your liking by enabling Panel edit mode (right click on the panel).

If you’re using a Linux operating system other than Ubuntu, you might have to install some extra programs to get things working. Ubuntu has them by default, but others might not:

sudo apt-get install appmenu-qt appmenu-qt5 unity-gtk2-module unity-gtk3-module

You’ll need to reboot your computer for this to take effect.

Automatically Starting Plank

If you followed the steps at the beginning of the article, Plank should be active on your desktop. However, it won’t show up on a reboot. To fix this, open up the Startup Applications menu in the settings manager. From there, look for Plank in your list of applications (they’re sorted alphabetically).

Now if you restart your desktop session, you won’t have to manually start the dock up.

Themeing Cinnamon

The Cinnamon desktop needs a bit more tweaking than other desktops. Open up System Settings > Appearance > Themes. You’ll be presented with a few theme options. Change everything but the Icons and Mouse Pointer entries to macOS-Sierra-master. Then, change the Icons entry to use GnomeYosemiteIcons-master.

For some final touches, you can change your wallpaper to something more Mac-like. Open up the Backgrounds setting, then add the ~/.themes/macOS-Sierra-master folder as a new background directory. You may have to show hidden folders to see it.

The Final Results

As you can see, regardless of the desktop, all of them resemble macOS to a fairly high degree.

Unity

The color and alignment of the dock gives away the fact it’s not really macOS, unfortunately. Using Plank wasn’t much of an option — it would make launching programs too difficult.

GNOME

Unlike Unity, it’s the menu bar that’s a little different.

Plasma

The icon theme in Plasma doesn’t fit quite as well, but it makes a good Mac impression nonetheless.

Cinnamon

Arguably, it’s the Cinnamon desktop that comes closest to the macOS feel.

Linux is extremely flexible — if you don’t like what you see, then you have the power to change it. Or even find something you like The Best Linux Distributions The Best Linux Distributions There are many Linux distributions available for a number of different purposes, which makes it difficult to choose at times. Here's a list of the very best to help you decide. Read More without having to do all that work. While the macOS desktop isn’t for everybody, the customizability it demonstrates means that the perfect desktop for you It's Your Choice: The Top 10 Linux Desktop Environments It's Your Choice: The Top 10 Linux Desktop Environments From Gnome to KDE, from MATE to Unity, there's a lot of choice out there. Where should you start? Overwhelmed? Start here. Read More is just waiting to be found.

What do you like to change in your Linux desktops? Is there anything you wish you could change but can’t?

  1. Colby k Taperts
    February 15, 2017 at 7:53 pm

    Check out the deepin GUI, it is already a mac look a like.

    • Austin Luong
      February 15, 2017 at 10:35 pm

      Hi Colby, thanks for the suggestion!

      Just taken a look at Deepin, and it's certainly very Mac-like. I bet with a few icon theme changes, this would be even more pronounced! Looking at the preview from their website, I wasn't able to see a menu-bar at the top, but this could probably be easily rectified by adding a third-party panel like Vala Panel or Xfce Panel.

      Another great desktop environment that already looks like a Mac would be the Pantheon desktop, which comes by default in Elementary OS. If you want something even more Mac-like by default, this is my suggestion. It comes with a menu-bar by default as well!

  2. Victor
    February 15, 2017 at 12:15 pm

    Why not hide the sidebar in Unity and install Plank also?

    • Austin Luong
      February 15, 2017 at 12:58 pm

      Well that's certainly an option! However, doing so would make things a little more complicated to launch applications - you'd have to unhide the Unity sidebar to open up the application launcher, even with Plank. Integration wise, I didn't think it would be worth it.

      Alternately, you could find the application that opens up the launcher and drag it onto Plank...but I'm not sure how well that might go. But your mileage may vary.

      • Victor
        February 15, 2017 at 1:14 pm

        I think it would really be better to use an alternative launcher instead of the native one in Unity, hide the sidebar and autostart Plank. I did basically the same thing when re-skinning Xubuntu the same way for my parents (they are happy with the end result).

        Anyway, a great post. Thanks!

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