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! 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.
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:
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, just copy the link into your browser and download it manually. Make sure to place it in the .themes folder!
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 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. 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.
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:
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.
Unity is based on GNOME, so it makes sense that both desktops are very similar to each other. As such, there’s not much you need to change.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
Without any modifications, the Cinnamon desktop 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 [No longer available] 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.
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.
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.
Unlike Unity, it’s the menu bar that’s a little different.
The icon theme in Plasma doesn’t fit quite as well, but it makes a good Mac impression nonetheless.
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 without having to do all that work. While the macOS desktop isn’t for everybody, the customizability it demonstrates means that the perfect Linux desktop for you 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?