Customize GNOME 40 Desktop to Look Like macOS [Guide]

5 min


A quick guide for you to help you customizing the GNOME 40 desktop to look like macOS.

Ever since the GNOME 40 desktop was released, I was wondering whether it is even possible to make this desktop look like macOS. It seems we can do it as close as possible to look like macOS. Here’s how.

There’s always debate that why people are so fascinated to make Linux Desktop look like macOS? If you want MacOS, then get a Mac. Well, keeping that debate aside, I ran some experiments to see whether the GNOME 40 and associated extension ecosystem evolved enough to make it look like macOS.

The power of any Linux desktop is customization. And among the popular desktops such as KDE, GNOME, Deepin, Budgie – only KDE Plasma comes with built-in tools to customize it to anything you want. On the other hand, GNOME’s vanilla install doesn’t give you those options out-of-the-box. Hence to get the desired result, you need to depend on many extensions and tweaks.

As GNOME 40 fundamentally changes the behavior of the desktop, the developers already ported their extensions to work on GNOME 40. And the majority of them working very well as of today.

So, in this guide, we are going to use a bunch of extensions for GNOME 40 and the final desktop should look like this.

Steps to Customize GNOME 40 Desktop to Look Like macOS

Setup Extensions and Tools

As this guide requires the installation of GNOME extensions, you need to set up your system as per the Linux distribution. You can read our guide here on installing and using GNOME Extensions; Or, follow the quick guide below.

Open a terminal and install the following.

Ubuntu

sudo apt install chrome-gnome-shell

Fedora

sudo dnf install chrome-gnome-shell

You have to install an add-on based on your preferred browser. Install them using the below links:

Install the GNOME Tweak tool using the below command.

Ubuntu

sudo apt install gnome-tweak-tool

Fedora

sudo dnf install gnome-tweak-tool

Install the new Extensions Flatpak app to manage extensions in GNOME 40 desktop. Go to Software and search for Extensions to install.

Theme, Icon, and Cursor

Download

I have used the WhiteSur Shell Theme, BigSur Icon Theme, McMojave Cursors, and macOS BS Theme for Cairo Dock for this guide.

Download the following packages and extract them. Open each of the below links and go to the Files section. Then download the light versions of the packages. If you want the dark theme, you can download the dark version as well. I have used the light theme for this guide.

  1. WhiteSur Shell Theme
  2. BigSur Icon Theme
  3. McMojave Cursors
  4. macOS BS Theme for Cairo Dock

After you download, extract them. Then create two directories named .icons and .themes under your home directory. Then copy the corresponding folders to .icons and .themes directories. The cursor theme goes to the .icons directory. Do not extract or copy the theme for the Cairo dock.

Install Extensions and configuration

Changes in Tweak Tool

Open the GNOME Tweak Tool and make the following changes to apply the themes that you downloaded above.

  • On the Window Titlebars tab, turn on Maximize and Minimize and make the placement as Left.
  • If you want to change the Font, you can. I kept the default Cantarell Regular font.
  • On the Appearance tab change the Themes as below.
tweak settings for theme
tweak settings for theme

Download and configure extensions

We need a bunch of extensions for the desired looks. Here’s a list of the extensions compatible at the moment with GNOME 40. Install all of them using the below links. After installation, do the following configuration using the Extensions app.

SEE ALSO:   A Clean GTK Theme Specially Designed for Laptop and Desktop

Better OSD – GNOME 40 : Changes the OSD location in the desktop.

  • Change the horizontal and vertical position of the OSD as per your need so that it becomes like this on the right-top of the desktop. This depends on the resolution of your screen.
GNOME 40 OSD
GNOME 40 OSD

Notification Banner Position: Move the default notifications from the center to any section you want. Only enable this extension, no change in settings is required.

Notification
Notification

Dynamic Panel Transparency: Make your top panel transparent in GNOME 40 desktop.

  • Change the maximized opacity to 27% and unmaximized to 19% in the settings of this extension.

Frippery Move Clock: Move the center clock to the right side of the panel. Only enable this extenstion. No setting change is required.

User Themes: Ability to apply GNOME Shell theme.

  • Apply the WhiteSur-light Shell theme.
apply WhiteSur-light user theme
apply WhiteSur-light user theme

Blur My Shell: Blurs the workspace and activtiy view and login screen.

  • On the settings, only turn on the blue for Dash and Overview and disable for Panel and others. Because this may conflict with the Transparent panel extension above.

Dock Configuration

There are many Docks available that are compatible with the GNOME desktop. For this guide, I have used the Cairo Dock with many customization options. Install it using the following command.

Ubuntu

sudo apt install cairo-dock

Fedora

sudo dnf install cairo-dock

Download the Cairo dock theme for MacOS from the below link.

Cairo Dock theme for macOS look-a-like

After installation of the Cairo Dock, open the GNOME Tweak Tool and add Cairo dock as a startup application.

From the application menu, launch Cairo Dock. And do the following settings.

  • Import the above theme from Themes Tab and Apply it. Browse to the downloaded tar file and apply.
  • On the Configuration > Appearance Tab Choose Icons as BigSur and Size=Big.
  • On the Configuration > Behaviour Tab change the settings as per the below image.
Cairo Dock Config - Behaviour
Cairo Dock Config – Behaviour
  • Change the Addon Tab applets which appear on the Dock as per your need.
  • On the Current Items Tab, under the Bottom Dock, rearrange and remove anything you want. You can right-click on the items and remove them.
  • Add a custom Launcher to launch the Application list of GNOME from Right Click on Dock > Add > Custom Launcher.
  • On the Current Items Tab, under the Bottom Dock, modify the custom launcher and give a name. For example, for this guide – I have given the name “Finder” and Command as below which would bring up the GNOME Application list.
Cairo Dock custom launcher
Cairo Dock custom launcher
dbus-send --session --type=method_call --dest=org.gnome.Shell /org/gnome/Shell org.gnome.Shell.Eval string:'Main.shellDBusService.ShowApplications();'

After these configuration, your dock should look like below.

Cairo Dock Animation
Cairo Dock Animation

Additional Configuration

Time for a nice wallpaper. There are a bunch of wallpapers available for Mac in the below link. Grab one and apply.

If you fancy some more customization, then you can opt for below.


Closing Notes

I hope this guide gives you a starting point for your GNOME 40 desktop customization. There are hundreds of themes, icons, and extensions available compatible with the new desktop workflow. You can create your own desktop look as you wish.

Do let me know in the comments below, whether it helped you; Also let us know about some cool extensions, themes for everyone.


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Arindam

Creator of debugpoint.com. All time Linux user and open-source supporter. Connect with me via Telegram, Twitter, LinkedIn, or send us an email.
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