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Gnome is highly configurable — you can change almost anything: background color, key bindings, location of panels and contents of the Main Menu, and more. Most of these changes are done using Gnome Control Center, which can be found in Settings submenu of the Main Menu; this menu also allows you to access a specific section of the Gnome Control Center. The Control Center has its own detailed documentation which you should consult before making any changes.

Here we would like to give just an overview of the most commonly used options of the Gnome Control Center.


You can change the desktop background by selecting Background in the Desktop section of Gnome Control Center. (A quicker alternative to access this section is to right-click on any empty space on your desktop and select Change Desktop Background from the pop-up menu).

Theme Selector

Theme Selector allows you to change the desktop theme (also known as GTK theme). This changes the appearance of the Main Menu, as well as menus, toolbars, scrollbars, checkbuttons and other elements of graphical user interface for all Gnome applications. Many users find the default GTK theme rather dull, so the first thing they do is switching to another one.

Sawfish window manager

This section allows you to change settings for the window manager. In particular, in the Appearance subsection you can change the frame style (theme), which determines the window borders and buttons. You can also change the font used for window title bars. If you are a new user, we recommend that you do not change other settings.


In this section you can define the startup programs (that is, programs that are run every time you log in), enable or disable login hints and logout confirmation dialog.

In addition, you can change properties of various items — most notably, panels and icons on your desktop — by clicking on them with the right mouse button and selecting Properties from the pop-up menu. In this way, you can change the caption of an icon, size and background color (or even background image) of the Panel, and much more.

Almost every Gnome application has its own preferences settings (look for Preferences or Settings in the menus), so you can change, for example, colors used by the Gnome Terminal or make it transparent — the possibilities are unlimited!