Customise The Ubuntu Desktop Wallpaper In 5 Steps

This guide shows how to customise the desktop wallpaper within Ubuntu. It also covers item 11 on the 33 things to do after installing Ubuntu.

In this article you will be shown how to start the "appearance" settings screen, how to choose a preset wallpaper, how to pick one of your own images, how to choose a gradient or plain coloured wallpaper and the best way to get new wallpapers.

If you haven't tried Ubuntu yet read this guide which shows how to run Ubuntu as a virtual machine within Windows 10.

01
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Access The Desktop Settings

Change Ubuntu Desktop Wallpaper
Change Desktop Background.

To change the desktop wallpaper settings within Ubuntu right click on the desktop.

A menu will appear with the option to "change desktop background".

Clicking this will show the "Appearance" settings screen.

An alternative way to bring up the same screen is to bring up the dash by either pressing the super key (windows key) or by clicking on the top item on the launcher and then type "appearance" into the search box.

When the "appearance" icon appears click on it.

02
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Choose A Preset Desktop Wallpaper

Ubuntu Appearance Settings
Ubuntu Appearance Settings.

The "appearance" settings screen has two tabs:

  • Look
  • Behaviour

The tab you are interested in when it comes to changing the desktop wallpaper is the "Look" tab.

The default screen shows the current wallpaper on the left side of the screen and a drop down on the right side with previews underneath.

By default, you will see all of the images in the wallpapers folder. (/usr/share/backgrounds).

You can choose one of the default wallpapers by clicking on the image you wish you use.

The wallpaper will change straight away. 

03
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Choose An Image From Your Pictures Folder

Change Ubuntu Wallpaper
Change Ubuntu Wallpaper.

You can choose to use one of the images from the pictures folder under your home directory.

Click the dropdown where it says "Wallpapers" and choose the "Pictures Folder" option.

All the images which are suitable for use as wallpaper will be displayed as previews in the right pane.

Clicking on an image changes the wallpaper automatically.

If you click the plus symbol at the bottom of the screen you can add a wallpaper to the pictures folder. Clicking the minus symbol removes the selected wallpaper.

04
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Choose A Colour Or Gradient

Change Ubuntu Wallpaper
Choose A Gradient Or Colour.

If you prefer to use a plain colour as your wallpaper or you would like to use a gradient click on the dropdown again and choose "Colours & Gradients".

Three square blocks appear. The first block symbolises a plain colour, the second block symbolises a vertical gradient and the third block a horizontal gradient.

For a plain coloured wallpaper you can choose the actual colour by clicking on the little black block next to the plus symbol.

A palette will appear which you can use to choose the colour of your wallpaper.

If you don't like any of the colours that appear click on the plus symbol within the "Pick a colour" screen.

You can now choose a colour from the left side and a shade by clicking in the large square. Alternatively, ​you can use HTML notation to pick your desktop wallpaper colour.

When you choose either of the gradient options two blocks will appear next to the plus symbol. The first block lets you choose the first colour in the gradient and the second the colour it fades to. 

You can inverse the gradient by clicking the two arrows between the two coloured blocks.

05
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Finding Wallpaper Online

Finding Desktop Wallpaper
Finding Desktop Wallpaper.

A good way to find wallpapers is to go to Google Images and search for them.

I like to use the search term "cool wallpapers" and scroll through the options but you can choose film names or sports teams etc.

When you have found the wallpaper you would like to use, click on it and then choose the view image option.

Right-click on the image and choose "save as" and place the image in the /usr/share/backgrounds folder. 

You can now use the "Appearance" settings window to choose this wallpaper.