Ubuntu 20.04's Nautilus file manager and desktop with the dark theme enabled

LUbuntu 20.04 LTS “Focal Fossa” ships with a built-in dark theme. You can activate the dark version of Ubuntu’s standard Yaru theme and get a dark GNOME desktop in just a few clicks. Here’s how.

First, click the system menu button on the panel at the top-right corner of Ubuntu’s GNOME desktop and select “Settings.”

You can also click the “Show Applications” button at the bottom-left corner of your screen, search for the “Settings” application, and launch it from there.

Opening the Settings window from Ubuntu's GNOME panel

Click the “Appearance” category in the Settings application.

Viewing GNOME's appearance options

By default, Ubuntu uses the “Standard” window color theme with dark toolbars and light content panes. To activate Ubuntu’s dark mode, click “Dark” instead.

To use a light mode without the dark toolbars, click “Light” instead.

Ubuntu's appearance window with the standard theme selected.

Your change will take effect immediately. You can now close the window.

RELATED: What's New in Ubuntu 20.04 LTS "Focal Fossa"

Ubuntu's appearance window with the dark Yaru theme selected.

Note that this won’t change Ubuntu’s panel interface to dark mode. For example, when you click the menu button at the top-right corner of your screen, you’ll see that it has a light background even when you have dark mode enabled.

Ubuntu's dark theme with a light panel menu

To change the panel theme, you’ll need to install a GNOME Shell extension. OMG! Ubuntu! has a guide that will walk you through the process of installing the gnome-shell-extensions package, enabling the “User Themes” extension, and switching the “Shell” theme to “Yaru-dark.”

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Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times and Reader's Digest, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than one billion times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
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