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How to install the Snow GTK theme on Linux

Snow is a light theme for Linux that follows a Mac-like design spec with greyish color gradients. While fans of popular Material Design themes like Adapta or Arc may not like it, Snow fills a void for people who love Mac, use Linux, and want something modern.

Downloading Snow

The Snow GTK theme is available to download for all Linux users via the Gnome-look theme website. To get your hands on this theme, follow the step-by-step instructions outlined below.

Step 1: Head over to Gnome-look.org and locate the “Files” tab, and click on it to access the download options available on the site for the themes.

Step 2: In the Snow download area (Files), there are two download options. The first option is Snow.tar.xz, the main snow theme. The second one is Snow-alien.tar.xz.

Pick one of the options (Snow or Snow alien) by selecting the blue button next to the file.

Step 3: Upon clicking on the blue button, a download message will appear on the screen. Click on the “Downloads” option to instantly download either Snow or Snow alien to the “Downloads” folder on your Linux PC.

Once the download for Snow is complete, move on to the next section of the guide.

Extracting Snow

The Snow GTK theme, as well as Snow alien, must be fully extracted from their TarXZ archives before attempting to use them as system themes on the Linux desktop.

Extracting TarXZ archives on Linux is best done with the tar command in the Linux command-line. Why? The command-line is very fast, efficient and will allow users to manipulate and deal with files with a single command, rather than dealing with the tediousness of Linux file managers.

To start the extraction process, open up a terminal window by pressing Ctrl + Alt + T or Ctrl + Shift + T on the keyboard. Then, follow the step-by-step extraction instructions below.

Step 1: The Snow and Snow alien files, when downloaded, are stored in the “Downloads” folder. However, when the terminal window is open, it is not in this folder. So, you must move the terminal session there with the CD command below.

cd ~/Downloads

Step 2: Once inside of the “Downloads” directory, run the ls command in combination with the grep tool to verify that you’ve indeed downloaded Snow or Snow alien.

ls | grep Snow.tar.xz

ls | grep Snow-alien.tar.xz

Assuming the command outputs a printout that shows Snow.tar.xz or Snow-alien.tar.xz, you’ll be able to move on to the next step. If not, re-download it.

Step 3: Fully extract the contents of the Snow or Snow alien TarXZ files by executing the tar xvf command below.

tar xvf Snow.tar.xz

or, for Snow alien:

tar xvf Snow-alien.tar.xz

When the extraction process is complete, you will see a Snow or Snow-alien folder in the “Downloads” directory. Confirm it with the ls command below.

ls | grep Snow

or, for Snow alien

ls | grep Snow-alien

After confirming the new folders, move on to the next section of the guide.

Installing Snow on Linux

Installing the Snow GTK theme on the Linux desktop, much like extracting it from the TarXZ archive, requires the terminal. To start the installation, open up a terminal window. Then, follow the instructions outlined below that correspond with the method of installation you prefer.


Installing the Snow GTK theme on Linux in single-user mode means that only one user has access to the theme (the user that installs it). This method is perfect if only one person has access to your Linux PC, and you do not plan on adding any other users.

To install the Snow GTK theme on your Linux PC as a single-user, start by opening a terminal window and moving it to the “Downloads” folder with the CD command.

cd ~/Downloads

Once inside of the “Downloads” directory, use the mkdir command to create a new folder called ~/.themes in your home directory (~).

mkdir -p ~/.themes

Finally, move the Snow GTK theme folder from the “Downloads” directory to the newly created ~/.themes folder using the mv command.

mv Snow/ ~/.themes

Alternatively, to move the Snow alien theme, enter these commands instead.

mv Snow-alien/ ~/.themes


Installing the Snow GTK theme system-wide, do the following. First, open up a terminal window and move the terminal session to the “Downloads” directory with the CD command.

cd ~/Downloads

Once in the “Downloads” directory, move the terminal from a standard user to the root user using sudo -s.

sudo -s

Finally, install the Snow GTK theme to the /usr/share/themes/ directory with the mv command.

mv Snow/ /usr/share/themes/

And, for Snow alien, do the following:

mv Snow-alien/ /usr/share/themes/

Enabling Snow on Linux

The Snow GTK theme is installed on your Linux PC. However, just installing the theme isn’t enough to make your Linux desktop start using it. You must modify the appearance settings so that the default theme is changed to Snow or Snow alien.

To enable Snow or Snow alien as the default GTK theme on your Linux desktop, start by opening up the “Settings” app. Then from there, look for “Appearance” or “Themes” and change the default look to Snow or Snow alien.

Having some issues changing the default look of your favorite Linux desktop environment? Check out the links listed below. They’ll walk you through how to customize your favorite desktop environments.

1 Comment

  1. Hi,
    I was trying with linux Mint, and it is not working.
    After installing in usr/share/themes folder, the snow theme is not visible in the “appearance, themes” menu.

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