Making Ubuntu Unity Look Beautiful By Enabling Transparency

April 27, 2012 by · 25 Comments 

Enabling transparency is one of simplest ways to beautify Ubuntu Unity. Unity has transparency disabled for most screen items by default. However, by following the steps below you can add transparency to your Ubuntu Unity desktop.

Top Panel Transparency

To enable transparency on the top panel, follow these steps:

Top Panel

1) Install Compiz Config Settings Manager
sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager compiz-plugins
2) Alt + F2, type ‘ccsm’ and press Enter to launch CCSM.
3) Click on the ‘Ubuntu Unity Plugin’ / ‘Experimental’ tab.
4) Modify the ‘Panel Opacity’ slider to change the panels transparency. Range 0 (transparent) – 1 (opaque).

Compiz – Top Panel Settings

Desktop Window Transparency

To enable transparency on desktop Windows, follow these steps:

1) Install Compiz Config Settings Manager (if you haven’t already)
sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager compiz-plugins
2) Alt + F2, type ‘ccsm’ and press Enter to launch CCSM.
3) Click on the ‘Opacity Brightness & Saturation’ Plugin / ‘Opacity’ tab.
4) Click ‘New’. Click ‘+’ and a new window will appear. Click ‘Grab’ and then select the desktop window on which you want to enable transparency. The name will then be filled into the Value field. Click ‘add’. Range 0 (transparent) – 100 (opaque).
5) Transparency can the be changed via the Window Values slider .
Some common window classes are ‘Ccsm’,'Nautilus’,'Dialog’,'Normal’,'Empathy’,'Gedit’,'Gnome-Terminal’

Desktop Window – Compiz

Menu Transparency

To enable transparency on Unity menus, follow these steps:

1) Install Compiz Config Settings Manager (if you haven’t already)
sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager compiz-plugins
2) Alt + F2, type ‘ccsm’ and press Enter to launch CCSM.
3) Click on the ‘Opacity Brightness & Saturation’ Plugin / ‘Opacity’ tab.
4) Click ‘New’. Type ‘Menu’ in the Windows field and adjust the Window Values slider to set the transparency level. Range 0 (transparent) – 100 (opaque).
5) Repeat step 5 for the following: ‘DropDownMenu’, ‘ToolTip’, ‘PopupMenu’.

Menu

 

Desktop Window Title Transparency

As well as having transparency on desktop windows, Ubuntu has the option to change transparency on the Window Title area.

12.04 and earlier:

1) Install Compiz Gnome and GConf Editor:
sudo apt-get install compiz-gnome gconf-editor
2) Alt+F2 , type ‘gconf-editor’ to open the GConf Editor.
3) Navigate to apps/gwd in the left panel.
4) Adjust the value column for ‘metacity_theme_active_opacity’ and ‘metacity_theme_opacity’ to set the window titles transparency. Range 0 (transparent) – 1 (opaque).

12.10:

1) Install Compiz Gnome and DConf Editor:
sudo apt-get install compiz-gnome dconf-tools
2) Alt+F2 , type ‘dconf-editor’ to open the DConf Editor.
3) Navigate to org /compiz / gwd in the left panel.
4) Adjust the value column for ‘metacity_theme_active_opacity’ and ‘metacity_theme_opacity’ to set the window titles transparency. Range 0 (transparent) – 1 (opaque).

Window Title – GConf Editor

Window Title

  • harpreet bhatia

    awesome but first panel thing is a bug, keeping same values for panel and launcher gives different results. the bug has been concidered

    • http://jwigley.com James Wigley

      I do hope in a future release, that they match the styling of the top-panel to the styling of Unity launcher.

  • harpreet bhatia

    i did the menu thing but after restart my graphics were broken, then i restarted again unity plugin was disabled, re-enabled it but not the menu thing does not work any more and i am kinda fearful to apply it again.

    can you guide me

    • http://jwigley.com James Wigley

      Make sure you haven’t enabled any other options in Compiz Config Settings Manager. Perhaps it’s another setting making it break. You can reset to the default setting under ‘Preferences’ -> ‘Reset to defaults’.

      Other than that, there really isn’t anything more to it than what I’ve listed in the post. If you just add the configurations mentioned, it should be fine.

  • David

    Awesome worked been trying to do this for ages thanks you rule :D

  • Avarus

    I don’t have an active opacity option. Anything I’m missing?

    • http://jwigley.com James Wigley

      If you’re using ubuntu 12.10, you may need to use dconf-editor instead of gconf-editor. I just found this out yesterday after upgrading. I’ve updated the post with some more instructions. Hopefully that works for you.

      • Bartosz Radaczyński

        you also need to have the compiz-plugins package installed.

  • Suresh

    Nice! Really Ubuntu rocks!!

  • Bartosz Radaczyński

    To enable the menu transparency, in the window field you need to type this:
    (type=Menu | PopupMenu | DropdownMenu | ToolTip )

    and then set hte value to something ~90.

    Also, if you don’t see the opacity plugin, you need to install the compiz-plugins package.

    • http://jwigley.com James Wigley

      Good point about the ‘compiz-plugins’ package being required. I’ll add that in. Thanks.

  • http://debians.org/ admin

    Any way to get Empathy notifications like Gnome 3?

  • Ggg

    In the window title transparency section, why are you modifying Metacity settings? Ubuntu 12.10 uses Compiz…

    • http://jwigley.com James Wigley

      It’s currently the only way I know of to get window title bar transparency. If you have another method please let me know and I’ll add it up.

      Thanks.

    • http://marsjana.net/ marsjaninzmarsa

      Ubuntu uses Compiz, and Compiz uses Metacity. :)

  • Ckn3chinnu

    in the desktop window transparency i set the ccsm window to complete transparent and now i cant see the ccsm window.How do i undo this?

  • Iwanageek

    nice

  • http://profiles.google.com/fredrik.tykosson Fredrik Tykosson

    thank you, this make me miss gnome2 and emerald a little bit less.

  • http://www.facebook.com/julian.chamale Juliàn Chamalè

    I tried it but it didn’t work for me, I installed everything and use root on gconf-editor. I’m using Ubuntu 12.04. should I reset default configurations ?

  • Gaurav Kumar

    Don’t do any of the changes and don’t download ccsm. My Top bar and launcher disappeared.

    • William Fisher

      Don’t mess around with CCSM if you don’t know what you are doing is what you mean

  • Pingback: Ubuntu 12.04 & 12.10 調校備忘 « Jamyy's Weblog

  • dbruvers

    Thanks for sharing these tips. I was looking for window transparency because I wanted to overlay two maps to better compare them!

  • MyWindows R Etheral

    I also found that instead of adding windows by class one could add them by type.

    Instead of grabbing by window class (in the ‘New’ menu), one can grab window type (‘Normal’). This is more general and probably quicker. However, it is less specific and you lose control over the opacity of each program’s window.