Make Linux Look Like Windows 10 With These Tips and Tweaks

Kris Wouk 23-04-2019

If you’re a longtime Linux user, you’ve probably got your favorite theme or themes. If you’re new to Linux though, you might find the entire environment to be far from welcoming. Making your desktop look like something you’re used to could help you get acquainted with Linux more easily.


One of Linux’s strengths is its flexibility, so it’s easy to make it look like whatever you want. This includes making it look like Windows. Once you’re more familiar with the system, you can customize it to look and work any way you like.

The Quick Way

If you use Ubuntu, which a lot of people do, there’s actually a very quick option. It’s so quick that you can go from standard Ubuntu to a Windows lookalike in a matter of seconds. It’s mainly based on Windows 10, but there are touches of Windows XP and Windows 7 as well.

This approach uses the UKUI Desktop Environment, and we have a guide to getting it up and running How to Make Ubuntu Look Like Windows 10 in Seconds If you've recently switched to Ubuntu to get away from Windows and miss its aesthetic, here's a free theme that will restore the Windows look on your Linux device. Read More . It’s easy to install and if you don’t like it, it’s easy to remove as well.

While this method is easy, it’s not without its drawbacks. First, while it’s close, it doesn’t look exactly like Windows 10. Second, since it’s a complete desktop re-skin, you can’t do much to customize it.

If you’d rather dive in and get your hands dirty, read on for a more customizable approach.


Change Your Linux Desktop Theme

The theme we’re going to be using is from the Boomerang Project. There are a few reasons for this, but the main reason is that it works on multiple desktops.

GNOME is the default desktop for modern Ubuntu and other distributions, but you might be using something else. The Boomerang Win 10 theme is compatible with Gnome, Cinnamon, Unity, Openbox, MATE, Fluxbox, and Xfce. It requires GTK 3.6 or higher and the Murrine GTK 2 rendering engine. If you’ve got those, you’re good to go.

Install Boomerang Win 10

First head to the Boomerang Win 10 download page. The theme is available in two versions: light and dark. Download one or both.

Extract the files in your graphical file manager of choice. You can also do so with the following command in the terminal:

cd ~/Downloads

Note that the filename may be different for you. Now it’s time to move the theme or themes to your themes directory. If you haven’t already installed themes, you may need to create the folder with the following command:

mkdir ~/.themes

Now, from the Downloads directory (or wherever you downloaded the theme files), run the following to move the theme to the themes directory.

mv Windows-10-2.0.1 ~/.themes/

Again, you may need to change the filename. If you’re running GNOME, you’ll need to install GNOME Tweaks to change the theme. You can install it by running the following:

sudo apt install gnome-tweaks

Installing Gnome Tweaks


Confirm that you want to install it and wait while it installs. Now you can change your theme. In Ubuntu, launch Tweaks from the Application launcher. Navigate to Appearance in the left-hand panel. Under Applications in the Themes section, select Windows-10-2.0.1 or similar.

Setting the Application theme in Gnome Tweaks

If you use another desktop environment, the instructions for actually setting the theme will differ, but the rest of the process is the same. In other desktops, you’re not going to have to install a new app just to change your theme. This means you can just poke through menus until you find what you’re looking for.

Change Your Icons

You’re part of the way to making your Linux desktop look like Windows 10, but changing the icons will be a big help. To get started, go to the Boomerang Windows 10 icon GitHub page. Here click on Clone or download, then select Download ZIP.


As you did with the theme, unzip the archive. You can do this in your file manager or in the terminal.

cd ~/Downloads

Now you can move this to the directory for your icon themes. As with the application themes, you might need to create this directory:

mkdir ~/.icons

Now move the freshly extracted icon theme folder to the directory:

mv Windows-10-master ~/.icons/

Now, if you’re on Ubuntu, open Tweaks, head back to the Appearance pane, and under Icons, select Windows-10-master.

Setting the Icons in Gnome Tweaks

As with the application theme, if you’re using another desktop, steps for actually selecting the new icon theme differ. After you’ve found out how to change your application theme, changing your icon theme should be similar.

Change Your Wallpaper

If you want to go all the way, you’ll want to change your wallpaper. If you’re the type that never changed your Windows 10 wallpaper, you probably don’t want to do this step. Still, if you’re seeing just how much you can make Linux look like Windows 10, this step is essential.

Windows theme in Gnome in Ubuntu

If you have a computer running Windows 10, you can just copy the wallpaper over from there. If you don’t want to do this, don’t worry. The default Windows 10 wallpapers are available in an Imgur album courtesy of MSPoweruser.

Want to Make Your Desktop Even More Like Windows?

Now that you’ve got your application theme, icon theme, and wallpaper set, you’re most of the way there. Depending on which desktop environment you use, your setup might feel more or less like Windows. If you use GNOME, however, you’ll notice you’re still a way off.

To get the most out of the Boomerang Project theme and to make your desktop the most like Windows, you might want to consider changing your desktop environment to Cinnamon. By default, Cinnamon has a taskbar along that bottom of the screen similar to that in Windows 10.

Windows theme in Cinnamon

The Grouped Window List applet will group window icons together as Windows 10 does, and it’s even installed in Cinnamon by default. Using the Slingshot applet will replace your menu with one that looks much more like the Windows 10 Start menu.

If you want to run Windows applications on Linux, consider switching to Robolinux, the best Linux distro for Windows users Why Robolinux Is the Best Linux for Windows Users Switching from Windows to Linux can be tough. Make it easier by choosing Robolinux, the best linux distro for Windows users. Read More .

Want Linux to Look Like macOS Instead?

We’ve covered how to make Linux look like Windows, but what about macOS? As mentioned above, the customization options make that easy. The Boomerang Project even offers themes that look like macOS, so many of the same tips here still apply.

Still, if you’re looking for an easier method, we have a walkthrough for theming Linux to look like macOS. We also have a list of tips to make switching from macOS to Linux easier Switching From Mac to Linux? 5 Tips to Make Your Life Easier Switching from macOS to Linux? It might not be as difficult as you think. Try these tips to get an instant Mac feel in Linux. Read More .

Related topics: Linux Desktop Environment, Windows 10.

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  1. SMoss
    March 28, 2020 at 2:04 pm

    You ask WHY we want Linux to look like Windows:
    80 year old father!

  2. Andrea Gavagnin
    October 31, 2019 at 11:18 pm

    You mention the slinghshot launcher. I can't find a version for the cinnamon desktop now. it did exist for preavious versions, but now it's vanished from the cinnamon spices website. Did you find a way to get it?

  3. ristepan
    August 24, 2019 at 8:09 am

    For what reason someone would like gnome to look like windows, opposite will be quite useful :)

  4. Henrique
    August 19, 2019 at 11:12 pm

    Not helpful at all. The Windows 10 dark theme only made Ubuntu go dark. I downloaded both the light and the dark themes so I could customize and use parts of both, which is what I used to do in Windows 10.
    The icon part was okay, better looking icons. But that's it.
    When you finally mention what would actually make some visual change other than color (the Cinammon thing, apparently), you stop at the mention.
    And for the people commenting, for Windows users, Linux is generally bad looking and deorganized. Not that you can't make it work and organize it even further than Windows. But Windows is easy, it's all there, simply go and use it. Little to nothing on customization. Folders and files work very nicely and smooth. While in Linux, you eventually will depend on terminal, guessing packages names, googling for every simple task, which is not simple when you think of command line against icons.

  5. John Smith
    May 14, 2019 at 4:28 pm

    Why would someone do that?
    The whole idea to move to Linux is to get a better experience.

    Windows GUI is as bad as its underlying functionality, design and performance.

  6. JohnGcorege
    May 2, 2019 at 2:08 am

    Are you kidding, why in the he@l would I do that.

  7. M Monroe
    April 24, 2019 at 8:40 am

    I've made my work W10 box look and behave like XP. My Linux box at home looks like and behaves live XFCE; I wouldn't have it any other way

  8. dragonmouth
    April 23, 2019 at 12:03 pm

    "Make Linux Look Like Windows 10"
    ARRRGH!!! What a ghastly thought! I switched to Linux to get away from Windows. WHY would I ever want to make it look like Windows?! If refugees from Windows are so attached to the look and feel, maybe they should stay with Windows instead of mutilating Linux. Why aren't there any articles on how to make OS/X look like Windows? Why aren't there any articles on making OS/X and/or Windows look like any of the many Linux dasktops?

    • Jim
      April 24, 2019 at 10:13 am

      LOL, I agree totally.

      How about an article, "how to make Windows or OS?X look like Linux Gnome, or KDE, or Mate, or Cinnamon, or LXDE, or XFCE, etc. etc. ect." For all those frustrated Windows and OS/X users who are locked in and have no choice!

    • Fik of the borg
      April 25, 2019 at 6:35 pm

      "WHY would I ever want to make it look like Windows?!"

      Because that's whats plain users are accustomed to. I have users that go into shock at the mention of Linux, but accept it just fine if I tell them "I set you up with the new Windows 2019".
      Yes, I'm a devious IT

      • dragonmouth
        May 3, 2019 at 1:08 pm

        "Because that's whats plain users are accustomed to."
        That's like immigrating to a country and demanding the natives speak your language instead you learning the native language.

        It is obvious that your "plain users" are fed up with the idiosyncrasies of Windows as developed in Redmond but they are not willing to give up the look-and-feel and the functionality of Windows. Maybe instead of sneakily switching them to Linux, you should switch them to ReactOS which is functionally compatible with Windows. Best of both worlds - Windows functionality and compatibility without Redmond BS.

      • Jim
        May 16, 2019 at 10:51 am

        That should work right up until they try to install a new program and click on that .exe or .msi file and nothing happens but a warning message! Then what?