The GNOME desktop can be customized according to your preferences and needs. Click the Start Here icon on the desktop. If this icon is not visible, start Nautilus by right-clicking the desktop then selecting New Window. Under Location:, enter preferences://. Open the various configuration dialogs by double-clicking the respective icons.


In the individual modules, access specific help for the options with Help. The system immediately adopts every change made in a configuration module.


In the Keyboard module, determine settings such as the repeat rate and sound events associated with your keyboard. The module consists of the Keyboard and Audio tabs. Use the Audio tab to configure of an audio signal for your keyboard. For audible notification when a wrong key is pressed, activate the corresponding radio button. Exit the Keyboard module with Close or go the accessibility module with Accessibility. The functionality of this module is described in Section “Accessibility”.

Mouse Configuration

The mouse configuration consists of three tabs: Buttons, Cursor, and Motion. The configuration options of the Buttons tab refer to the Mouse Orientation. Left-handed users should activate Left-handed mouse to swap the right and left mouse buttons. Use the slider to determine the maximum delay (in seconds) between two clicks that the system should interpret as a double-click.

The appearance and size of the cursor can be changed under the Cursor tab. Four different settings are available. Changes are not activated until the next login. Under Locate Pointer, activate an option that causes the cursor to be highlighted when you press the Ctrl key, enabling you to find it easily.

Under Movement, set the Acceleration and Sensitivity of the screen cursor.

Menus and Toolbars

The settings in this module affect the menus and toolbars of all GNOME-compatible applications. Centrally control all GNOME toolbars from here. Select for toolbar icons to be displayed as Text Only, Icons Only, Text Beside Icons, or Text Below Icons. The default setting is Text Only.

Activate Toolbars can be detached and moved around to allow the detachment of the toolbar from all other window elements and allow its free positioning on the desktop. This makes a grabbing area appear on the left side of the toolbar. Clicking and holding this area relocates the toolbar.

Every menu entry in any application menu can be displayed with the corresponding icon. Activating Show icons in menus tests the settings with the provided example menu.


The module for configuring the screensaver is subdivided into two tabs: Display Modes and Advanced. Select the screensaver in Display Modes. The Advanced tab contains a few special options that normally do not need to be modified.

Select the screen saver mode under the Display Modes tab. Choose from Random Screen Saver (random selection of screen savers from a custom-defined list), Only One Screen Saver, Blank Screen Only, or Disable Screen Saver.

Select one or more screensavers from the list for the operating modes Only One Screen Saver or Random Screen Saver. The currently selected screensaver is displayed in the small preview window. The Preview button launches a fullscreen preview run of that screensaver, which can be aborted by pressing any key. Select the previous or following screensaver for preview by clicking the corresponding triangles below the selection list.

In the last step, determine after how long the screen should be made completely black (Blank After), the screen saver module should be changed (Cycle After), or the screen should be locked (Lock Screen After). All time references are given in minutes.


This module controls the behavior of application windows. Determine how the window should react to contact with the mouse pointer or to double-clicks on its title and define the key to hold for moving an application window.

When several application windows populate the desktop, the active one, by default, is the one last clicked. Change this behavior by activating Select windows when the mouse moves over them. If desired, activate Raise selected window after an interval and adjust the latency time with the slider. This activates a window only when the cursor was placed within the window for a time exceeding the set latency.

Application windows can be shaded by double-clicking the title bar, leaving only the title bar visible. This saves space on the desktop and is the default behavior. It is alternatively possible to set windows to maximize when the title bar is double-clicked.

With the radio buttons, select the modifier key to press for moving a window. The possible choices are Ctrl, Alt, and the Windows key.


Determine a background for your desktop. By default, the changes made here are applied to all virtual desktop. If you do not want any background picture, click No Picture and define a background style. The drop-down menu offers a horizontal gradient, a vertical gradient, or no gradient at all. Use Color to define the desired colors in the color editor.

To use an image file as a background picture, drag and drop it from the file manager to the Select picture field in the module dialog. Alternatively, click Select picture to open a dialog in which to select the desired image.

Picture Options determines what processing steps should be applied to the selected image to adapt it optimally to the current screen resolution. The options are Wallpaper, Centered, Scaled, and Stretched.


This module determines the font to use for the desktop. In a second step, enable optional effects for the improvement of the font quality. The upper part of the dialog window features four buttons holding the fonts selected for Application font, Desktop font, Window title font, and Terminal font. Click one of the buttons to open a selection dialog in which to set the font family, style, and size. The options for Font Rendering and the additional configuration options accessible through Details are set to optimal values by default.


The style for all control elements on the desktop and of GNOME applications is set here. There is a choice of various preinstalled themes. Selecting a style in the list overview makes GNOME apply it automatically. Details opens another dialog in which to customize the style of single desktop elements, like window content, window borders, and icons. Making changes and leaving the dialog with Close switches the theme to Custom theme. Click Save theme to save your modified theme under a custom name. The Internet and other sources provide many additional themes for GNOME as .tar.gz files. Install these with Install theme.


The settings of this module facilitate the use of the keyboard for users with motion impairments. The module consists of the three tabs Basic, Filters, and Mouse. Before modifying settings, activate Enable keyboard accessibility features.


The keyboard accessibility functions can be deactivated automatically after a certain time. Set an appropriate time limit measured in seconds with the slider. The system can additionally provide audible feedback when the keyboard accessibility functions are activated and deactivated.

Enable Sticky Keys

Some keyboard shortcuts require that one key is kept pressed constantly (this applies to Alt, Ctrl or Shift) while the rest of the shortcut is typed. When “sticky” keys are used, the system regards those keys as pressed after being hit once. For an audible feedback generated each time a modifier key (Ctrl or Alt) is pressed, activate Beep when modifier is pressed. If Disable if two keys pressed together is selected, the keys do not stick anymore once two keys are pressed simultaneously. The system then assumes that the keyboard shortcut has been completely entered.

Repeat Keys

Activate Repeat Keys to make settings with sliders for Delay and Speed. This determines how long a key must be pressed for the automatic keyboard repeat function to be activated and at what speed the characters are then typed.

Test the effect of the settings in the field at the bottom of the dialog window. Choose parameters that reflect your normal typing habits.

Enable Slow Keys

To prevent accidental typing, set a minimum time limit that a key must be pressed and held before it is recognized as valid input by the system. Also determine whether audible feedback should be provided for keypress events, accepted keypresses, and the rejection of a keypress.

Enable Bounce Keys

To prevent double typing, set a minimum time limit for accepting two subsequent keypress events of the same key as the input of two individual characters. If desired, activate audible feedback upon rejection of a keypress event.

Toggle Keys

It is possible to request audible feedback from the system when a keycap modifier key is pressed.


Activates the keyboard mouse — the mouse pointer is controlled with the arrow keys of the number pad. Use the sliders to set the maximum speed of the mouse pointer, the acceleration time until the maximum speed is reached, and the latency between the pressing of a key and the cursor movement.

Keyboard Shortcuts

This module is used for managing global keyboard combinations. It is possible to determine the keyboard combinations to use during text input and those for objects on the desktop.

The list overview window displays a list of all currently available actions along with their keyboard shortcuts. Deactivate or change a keyboard shortcut by clicking the corresponding shortcut entry. Then enter a new shortcut or delete the current one with Delete. All changes take effect immediately. Restore the current keyboard shortcut by clicking its entry and leaving the dialog with Close.

Sound (system alerts)

This module allows the association of certain system events and application alerts with characteristic audio signals. The dialog box consists of two tabs (General and Sound Events). The two check boxes in the General tab must be activated to use audio signals for certain desktop events.

In the second tab, determine which events and application alerts should be associated with which sounds. All sound associations already defined for applications are listed. Test a sound by first selecting the corresponding notice in the Event column then clicking Play. Change the sound by clicking Event then Browse. The dialog that appears provides a list of files from which to choose. Close it with OK.