7 of the Best Icon Themes for Ubuntu

Best icon themes for Ubuntu

On a hunt to find the best icon themes for Ubuntu? Well, you’ve come to the right post place!

In this post we will show you some of the best icon themes for Ubuntu, ranging from modern, flat icon sets, to a circular icon pack carrying a colourful twist.

Oh, and as this article is constantly updated you don’t need to fret about any of the links or information being out of date. Feel free to bookmark this list for future reference, or share it on social media.

The Best Icon Themes for Ubuntu

screenshot of the ubuntu desktop with default icon theme

Ubuntu being Linux (and Linux being awesome) means you’re not stuck with the vanilla-flavoured defaults Ubuntu ships with. It’s easy to change icon theme on Ubuntu, giving your desktop a striking new look in one easy move.

To change icon theme on Ubuntu you need to use the Unity Tweak Tool app. This is free, available to install from Ubuntu Software. If you’re using the GNOME Shell desktop you should use the GNOME Tweak Tool to change icon theme.

If you’re not sure how to install Ubuntu icons don’t worry; we explain how to download and install each of the icon packs listed.

All of the icon sets listed work fine on the Ubuntu and Ubuntu-based distributions.

Naturally our favourite icon themes might not be yours, so if there’s a set you think fellow readers should check out, do share a screenshot and a download link in the comments section.

1. Papirus Icon Theme

We couldn’t list the best icon themes for Ubuntu and not mention the superb Papirus icon theme!

‘Papirus is the perfect icon pack for the modern Linux desktop.

It’s probably the most popular Linux icon theme out there right now — and for good reason. Despite being colourful, inventive, and shapely the set still manages to retain a cohesiveness. Papirus is the perfect icon pack for those wanting a modern Linux desktop.

Another big plus to the set is how open its designers are. If you use an app that the theme lacks an icon for, you can file an issue on their Github page and they’ll add it!

We’ve shown you how to install Paprius icon theme on Ubuntu before, but incase you don’t know just open a new Terminal window and run these two commands, entering your password when prompted:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:papirus/papirus
sudo apt update && sudo apt install papirus-icon-theme

2. Shadow Icon Theme

example of the shadow icon theme

Want something with a more dramatic flair? The Shadow icon theme helps your desktop make a statement.

App icons are predominantly round and duotone, though folders are squared and blue and there’s an assortment of file mime types using the clipped corner ‘document page’ motif).

Using simplistic 2D glyphs and a long drop shadow that falls to the left, the Shadow icon theme follows the “Material Design” trend that’s currently popular.

Like Papirus above the author of this theme is super responsive to app icon requests filed through the Shadow Github page. If there’s an application you use not covered, do file a ticket.

You can download Shadow as a .tar.gz archive from the GNOME-Look page below. Unpack the archive and move the resulting folder to your ~/.icons directory to install. Apply using a tweak tool.

Download ‘Shadow’ Icon Theme from GNOME Look

3. Uniform Icon Theme

The Uniform Icon theme

Uniform is another flat, but shapely icon theme that helps to give your desktop an informal and playful feel.

The bad news is that the official Uniform icon set is largely abandoned. It lacks support many popular applications and common file types, something which gives you a less than uniform appearance overall.

The good news is that an unofficial extension version of the Uniform icon theme is available called Uniform+. This fork boasts thousands of icons covering many popular apps. Although it’s designed for the MATE desktop it works just dandy on GNOME, Cinnamon, Unity, etc.

For this reason I’d recommend using the unofficial Uniform icon theme instead of the original.

Download Uniform+ Icon Theme from GNOME Look

4. Numix Circle Icon Theme

numb circle icon theme

For a circular icon theme with lashings of color, there’s only one icon set up to the job. Created by the Numix project the Numix Circle icon set is a real gem.

Inventive, striking and colourful, Numix Circle icons cover several thousand applications, all of which are (no surprise) circle shaped.

To install Numix Circle icon theme on Ubuntu just pop open a new Terminal window and run these commands:

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

5. Vibrancy Colors Icon Theme

vibrancy colors icon theme

The hardworking open-source designers at Ravefinity are behind Vibrancy Colors, a bold and confident duotone icon set.

Vibrancy Colors set is described as a “modern and clean”. It makes use of gradients and shading for more detail and sophistication and rounded application icons for thousands of applications

“Vivacious uses a fusion of components from many great open source icon projects. But we add to and develop many new aspects of our own on top of this,” they say.

You can learn more about the theme on the Ravefinity website. To install the icon pack on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS and above just run these commands:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ravefinity-project/ppa
sudo apt update && sudo apt install vibrancy-colors

6. Moka Icon Theme

example of the moka icon theme

Another well-known entry in our list best Linux icon themes is Moka.

Moka uses a rounded tile shape for all of its application icons. It’s not a flat theme per se, with a mixture of simple, clear icons and more intricate designs.

Although no longer as popular as it once was, Moka remains one of the most comprehensive icon themes in terms of app coverage. I will note that it relies on a fallback theme, Faba, by the same author, to provide symbolic icons and system glyphs.

If you’re running Ubuntu 17.04 or later you can install both the Moka icon theme and Faba from Ubuntu Software:

Install Moka Icon Theme from Ubuntu Software

If you’re running Ubuntu 16.04 LTS the best way to install both Moka (and Faba) is by adding the official Moka PPA to your software sources:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:moka/daily
sudo apt update && sudo apt install moka-icon-theme faba-icon-theme

7. Obsidian

obsidian icon theme

If flat themes leave you feeling a little, well, flat, definitely check out Dragonglass Obsidian.

Obsidian is a continuation of the Faenza icon theme that proved super popular with Linux users a few years a go (so popular that Canonical hired the guy behind it). Sadly, Faenza hasn’t been updated since 2012.

A fully up-to-date respin of Faenza, Obsidian packs a stack of reworked icons for classic apps like Firefox, GIMP and LibreOffice, and has broad support for newer apps like Vivaldi, Wire and Signal.

You can download the latest Obsidian icon theme release from its Github page. To install Obsidian on Ubuntu just unpack the .zip folder and move what you see to the ~/.icons folder. Finally, apply using a tweak tool.

Download Obsidian Icon Theme

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