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Where Are Theme Icons Stored on Ubuntu?

Ubuntu 13

Ubuntu, a popular Linux distribution, offers great flexibility when it comes to customization. One of the aspects you can customize is the theme icons. In this article, we’ll explore where these theme icons are stored on Ubuntu.

Quick Answer

Theme icons on Ubuntu are stored in various locations, including /usr/share/icons/, ~/.icons/, /usr/share/pixmaps/, /usr/share/app-install/icons/, ~/.local/share/icons/, and specific program directories. The exact location may vary depending on the Linux distribution and version being used.

Understanding Icon Themes

Icon themes in Ubuntu are sets of icons that share a common design. They are used to give a consistent look and feel to your desktop and applications. Icons are usually stored in directories, with each directory representing a theme.

Locations of Theme Icons

There are several locations where theme icons are stored in Ubuntu. Let’s take a look at each one:


This is the primary directory where pre-installed themes are stored. These themes are shared by all users on the system. Each theme has its own subdirectory under /usr/share/icons/. For example, the default Ubuntu icon theme, called “Humanity”, is stored in /usr/share/icons/Humanity.


This directory is typically created by the user and contains folders with themes installed by the user. It allows for customization of icons specific to each user. Note that the tilde (~) symbol represents the user’s home directory.


Many applications store their icons in this directory. It’s a more generic location for copying icons for a specific application.


Some icons related to installed applications can be found in this directory. These icons are usually used in the Ubuntu Software Center.


This is one of the places where Ubuntu searches for icons if you use a relative path. It is another location for user-specific icon customization.


This directory and its subfolders may contain icons used by specific programs or applications.


Subfolders within this directory may contain icons for applications installed via Snap.

~/.local/share/icons (alternative to ~/.icons)

In some cases, this directory may be used instead of ~/.icons for storing user-specific icons.

Understanding Icon Lookup in Ubuntu

The standard specifies the order in which programs should look for icons. This order is as follows: ~/.icons, $XDG_DATA_DIRS/icons (typically ~/.local/share/icons), and /usr/share/pixmaps. Therefore, if you want to use a custom icon, you can create an image with the same file name as the desired icon in ~/.local/share/icons.


Understanding where theme icons are stored in Ubuntu can be helpful when you want to customize your desktop or troubleshoot issues related to icons. Remember that the actual locations may vary depending on the Linux distribution and version being used. Always make sure to back up your data before making any changes to system files.

Please note that the information provided here is based on various sources and may vary depending on the Linux distribution and version being used. Always refer to the official documentation for the most accurate and up-to-date information.

How do I change the theme icons on Ubuntu?

To change the theme icons on Ubuntu, you can go to the "Settings" application and navigate to the "Appearance" or "Themes" section. From there, you can select a different icon theme from the available options.

Can I create my own custom icon theme?

Yes, you can create your own custom icon theme on Ubuntu. You can create a new directory in the ~/.icons or ~/.local/share/icons directory and place your custom icons in it. Then, you can select your custom icon theme in the "Settings" application.

How can I install new icon themes on Ubuntu?

To install new icon themes on Ubuntu, you can download icon theme packages from various sources on the internet. Once you have the package, you can extract it and move the theme directory to either the /usr/share/icons/ directory (for system-wide installation) or the ~/.icons/ or ~/.local/share/icons/ directory (for user-specific installation).

How can I restore the default theme icons on Ubuntu?

If you want to restore the default theme icons on Ubuntu, you can go to the "Settings" application and select the default icon theme provided by the system. This will revert your icon theme back to the default one.

Can I use different icon themes for different applications on Ubuntu?

Yes, you can use different icon themes for different applications on Ubuntu. Some applications have their own settings that allow you to choose a specific icon theme. Alternatively, you can use third-party tools like "GTK Theme Switch" to set different icon themes for specific applications.

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