Sunday, 4 March 2012

Change GTK themes in OS X

There are several great, cross-platform programs out there that use GTK to handle their UI elements. Inkscape, and JPilot (for those still rocking their Palm handhelds!), are two examples. In Linux it is possible to customize the themes of these applications to make them look better, and in OS X it turns out this is also true.

While I'll summarize below, a great tutorial on how to do this can be found here:

This solution was tested to work in OS X 10.7.3 using MacPorts version 2.0.3.

Summary of Solution:

1) install MacPorts
the project can be found at:

2) install gtk-theme-switch in Terminal
sudo port -v install gtk-theme-switch

3) run the theme switcher app from Terminal, and use it to change themes

4) Install themes 
  • Some great ones can be found at
  • You can also search MacPorts for themes (try: port search gnome-themes)
(End Summary)

5) Additional notes
Updating themes might break some GTK-based programs. For instance, if Inkscape looks ugly rather than looking like the theme you set, it is because Inkscape only supports variants of the "Clearlooks" theme in OS X (at least for version 0.48). A solution to this would be to launch applications using their own themes, but for now this is out of the scope of this how-to.

To find out a little more on how this theme switch works, (and how to possibly do it manually), you can google up on the configuration file in your home folder named ".gtkrc-2.0".

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