How to Customize the Cinnamon Desktop Environment

Enhance the desktop environment for Linux Mint

The Cinnamon Desktop Environment is relatively new when compared to KDE and Gnome, and therefore there aren't quite as many tweakable features.

Enhance the Cinnamon DE's look and feel by:

  • Changing the desktop wallpaper
  • Adding panels
  • Adding applets to panels
  • Adding Desklets
  • Customizing the login screen

The Cinnamon DE works on most any Linux distribution except for Linux Mint.

Change the Cinnamon Desktop Wallpaper

Cinnamon change background

To change the desktop wallpaper within Cinnamon right-click on the desktop and choose Change Desktop Background

The application used for changing the desktop wallpaper is easy to use.

The left pane has a list of categories that are the previous versions of Linux Mint. The right pane shows the images that belong to a category.

You can add your own folders of images by clicking the plus symbol and navigating to the folder you wish to add.

Clicking on an image automatically changes the background to that image (You don't have to confirm by pressing apply or anything like that).

The Settings tab of the Backgrounds tool supports slideshows. When you select the slider button, the tool exposes settings for a timer and a toggle for random order. In addition, offers a Picture aspect setting that configures how the pictures display:

  • No Picture makes your desktop go black.
  • Mosaic repeats the image horizontally and vertically.
  • Centered places the image in the center of the screen.
  • Scaled increases the size of the image both horizontally and vertically.
  • Stretched makes the image take up the whole screen.
  • Zoom zooms in on the image.
  • Spanned makes the paper stretch across multiple screens.

The Gradient options work when the No Picture option is chosen for the Picture Aspect.

You can make the gradient vertical or horizontal and the picture fades from the start color to the end color.

How to Add Panels to the Cinnamon Desktop

Panel settings

To alter the panels within Cinnamon, right-click an existing panel and choose Panel Settings. If you change the panel layout, you will need to restart Cinnamon for the change to take place.

Select one of the drop-down values in the Panel Visibility section to control when the panel displays.

Change the Show Delay value by clicking on the plus (+) or minus (-) buttons. This is the number of milliseconds it takes for the panel to reappear when you hover over it.

Change the Hide Delay value, in the same way, to decide how long it takes to hide the panel when you move away from it.

You're also free to set the size of icons from this screen, as well editing the panels.

How to Add Applets to Panels Within the Cinnamon Desktop

Cinnamon applets

To add applets to a panel on the Cinnamon Desktop, right-click the panel and select Add applets to panel.

The Applets screen has two tabs:

  • Manage
  • Download (Online)

The manage tab lists all the applets that are currently installed on your computer.

Next to each item you'll see a lock if the applet can't be uninstalled.

If the applet is already installed on a panel you can't add it to another panel. You can, however, configure the item by clicking the Configure button at the bottom of the screen.

The configure option only appears for certain items.

To add an applet to a panel click the applet and click the Add To Panel button at the bottom of the Applets tool.

To move an applet to another panel or to a different position, right-click the panel and switch the Panel Edit Mode slider to the on position. Drag the applet to the place where you want it to go.

Finally, the launch option launches the application.

  • The Available Applets tab shows a list of applets that can be installed on your system.

Add Desklets to the Cinnamon Desktop

Cinnamon desklet

Desklets are mini-applications that can be added to your desktop such as calendars, clocks, photo viewers, cartoons and quote of the day.

To add a desklet right-click on the desktop and choose Add Desklets.

The Desklets application has three tabs:

The Installed Desklets tab has a list of desklets that are already installed on your computer. As with panel applets, a desklet will have a locked symbol if it can't be deleted and a check mark to show that it is already on the desktop. Unlike panel applets, you can generally add as many of each desklet as you wish.

Configure desklets by clicking on a desklet that is in use and click the Configure button.

The installed desklets include:

  • A clock
  • A launcher
  • A photoframe

The Download tab features desklets that can be installed on your system but that aren't at the moment.

The General Desklet Settings tab offers three options:

  • Decoration of desklets
  • Snap to grid
  • Width of desklet snap grid

Customizing the Login Screen

cinnamon login window

The login screen for Linux Mint is really stylish with various images fading in and out as it waits for you to log in. To customize it, choose Login Window from the Administration category on the menu.

The Login Window Preferences screen has a panel down the left with three options and a panel on the right which changes depending on which option you choose. The three options are as follows:

  • Appearance
  • Users
  • Settings

The Appearance option provides a list of themes that can be used as a login screen display.

If you prefer to use your own image, click the background-image option and select the image you wish to use. Choose a background color rather than an image by checking the Background Color option and then click on the color you wish to use.

The Auto Login option, within the Users tab, automatically logs in as a specific user by checking the Enable Automatic Login and choosing the user from the drop-down list.

How to Add Cinnamon Desktop Effects

Cinnamon effects window

If you like snazzy desktop effects, choose the Effects option from the Preferences category on the menu.

The Effects screen is split into two sections:

  • Enable Effects
  • Customise

The Enable Effects option controls desktop effects like enabling session startup animations and enabling desktop effects on dialog boxes.

You can also check a box to determine whether to enable the fade effect on Cinnamon scroll boxes.

The Customise section of the screen lets you customize the following items:

  • Closing Windows
  • Mapping Windows
  • Maximising Windows
  • UnMaximising Windows
  • Minimising Windows
  • Tiling And Snapping Windows

For each of these items you can choose whether to fade and scale (except for minimizing which gives you a traditional option as well). There are then a series of effects that can be chosen from such as EaseInBack and EaseOutSine. Finally, you can adjust the amount of time the effects last for in milliseconds.

To get the effects to work the way you want them to takes a bit of trial and error.

Cinnamon Continues to Refine

Because Cinnamon is a relatively new desktop environment, it iterates rapidly. Each new release offers substantial improvements in usability and stability.