Make Your Linux Desktop Look Like A Mac - Mac4Lin Project Documentation

Revision 1.1
1 November, 2007
Mac4Lin Guide Copyright Anirudh, 2007
Developer: Anirudh (infra_red_dude)

Do you want to give your desktop a dash of Mac OS X? Do you want to change your GNOME desktop from the default look to something like this?

Then read on.....

The goal of this project is to bring the look and feel of Mac OS X (latest being 10.5, Leopard) on *nix GTK based systems. This document will present the procedure to install Mac4Lin pack & tweak certain things to get that almost perfect Mac OS X like desktop.

NOTE: Backup all files before deleting/replacing the original ones. Nobody can be held responsible for any loss of data that may occur when installing and/or during usage. This guide holds good for all versions of Mac4Lin. For version specific information please see the README file for each component (if any). Also see the changelog file for changes in that version. Compiz in this guide refers to Compiz-Fusion. Unless explicitly specified, the installation procedures apply to all versions of GNOME.

Download all the Mac4Lin .tar.gz files from the latest release & except the Icon themes extract all other files to a temporary folder .


1 Applying GTK Metacity Theme

GNOME 2.20

Goto System > Preferences > Appearance. Click Install. Browse and choose the Mac4Lin GTK Metacity Theme .tar.gz file (wherever it is extracted).

After the installation is confirmed click on 'Apply new theme'.


GNOME 2.18

Goto System > Preferences > Theme > Customize > Control. Click Install. Browse and choose the Mac4Lin GTK Metacity Theme .tar.gz file (wherever it is extracted). Select to Apply.

Also make sure that the Window border is set to the Mac4Lin theme. Click on the Window border and select the Mac4Lin GTK theme.


For both GNOME 2.18 & 2.20

To set Leopard like GNOME panel background right click on an empty area on the top panel and select Properties. Now goto the Background tab and click on the Background image radio button. Navigate to /home/<user name>/.themes/<Mac4Lin GTK theme folder>/gtk-2.0/Panel and select the image you like, to be set as background for the GNOME panel.

The following is only for those who do not use Emerald theme manager:

To shift the traffic lights (close,min,max buttons) to the left of the title bar goto a terminal windows and type:


and press Enter. Now navigate to: apps>metacity>general. On the right double click 'button_layout'. Delete that & type: 'close,minimize,maxmize:menu' (without quotes). Press OK and then quit. The buttons will now be on the left side of titlebar.

To restore the original layout, just replace the string by 'menu:minimize,maximize,close'.


2 Applying GTK Icon Theme

GNOME 2.20

Goto System > Preferences > Appearance. Click Install. Browse and choose the Mac4Lin Icon Theme .tar.gz file (wherever it is extracted). Be sure to select the correct icon theme, the GNOME 2.20 ONLY version.

After the installation is confirmed click on 'Apply new theme'.


GNOME 2.18

Goto System > Preferences > Theme > Customize > Icons. Click Install. Choose the Mac4Lin GTK Icon Theme .tar.gz file (wherever its extracted). Select to Apply.


For both GNOME 2.18 & 2.20

For the Search/Network/Wi-Fi icon to work correctly, you need to add the applets: "Search for files.." and "Network Monitor" to the GNOME Panel. Right click on an empty are on the panel and click "Add to panel" now scroll down and select "Search for files" applet. Now again do that, this time select the "Network Monitor" Applet. Look at the main screenshots for their placement on the panel.

This theme also contains lot of extra icons. Find them at ~/.icons/<Mac4Lin Icon folder>/EXTRAS. These are some of the icons in the pack:


3 Emerald Theme For Beryl & Compiz

You will need to install Beryl/Compiz and Emerald theme manager first. To install: Goto System > Preferences > Emerald Theme Manager. Click on 'Import...' button. Now browse to the folder where this pack was extracted and select the .emerald file from the Emerald folder. Click 'Open'. Now scroll and select the Mac4Lin Emerald theme to apply.

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By: Anonymous

yes.  It worked great except for the apple icon in the upper left corner...

By: Fletchinho

There is a new version of Mac4lin available with documentation on their official site.

By: Methanoid

Yes, new version but with a manual that is too much... Contrast to the same sort of things for making Ubuntu look like XP. A simple script you run and it does it all.

The guide isnt accurate. If I run the script I get no output at all but things do happen. Was I supposed to run it in Terminal or Open/Run it? It doesnt do the GTK stuff. You have to do manually.

Great idea but definitely NOT noob friendly.

By: Hozey

Yes and got lost.  It's a same this tutorial hasn't been updated in almost a year and a half.  With the release of 9.04 and for the benefit of us newbies who want to use linux but remain tied to the Mac desktop, somebody please update this and the Mac4Lin project as well.

By: Hozey

I did.  But being a newbie to Ubuntu and Linux I got lost due to some of the commands and screen shots being different in Jaunty.  An update would certainly be appreciated.

By: Anonymous

Has anyone tried this for Ubuntu 9.04 (Jaunty Jackalope) yet?

By: Anonymous

yeah I have, but however I couldnt install the MacMenu.. or AWM...

By: Anonymous

Yes. I couldn't get past step one.

By: darchstar

I just installed this and the newest version comes with an install script that automates the whole process for you

By: ryuken

To understand my message, use Google translate
I use Indonesian
Saya sudah mencoba tampilan Mac ini di Ubuntu Jaunty (9.04).
Bug yang saya temui:
main Icon tidak mau berubah, masih Icon GNome.
Wallpaper tidak mau berubah secara otomatis ketika tema dipasang.
Usplash tidak mau muncul.
Ketika saya mengubah settingan CUBE, di Compiz, efek tidak muncul. Begitu juga ketika saya coba shift. banyak error di sana.
Settingan Sound ada yang berbeda. Dan ada sound yang tidak ada dalam paket ini. Ketika saya mengubah settingan sound, dengan mengikuti petunjuk ini, suara tidak mau berubah.
Screenlet, ketika saya login, muncul Item-item screenlet yang dobel-dobel. Secara otomatis aku direpotkan untuk meng-klik item yang dobel tersebut. misalkan aku memasang clock, ketika aku restart komputer saya, ketika sudah login, muncul beberapa clock dan kadang lebih dari 2 clock.
ada plugin yang tidak kompatibel, misalkan plugin untuk mozilla firefox tidak kompatibel. mozilla yang saya pakai versi 3.0.17

By: Hozey

Any chance you'll be updating this for 9.04 any time soon?  It's sorely needed for us novices.  Thanks.

By: Anonymous

works fine, better than 8.04 or 7.10


sudo apt-key add reacocard.asc
rm reacocard.asc
sudo apt-get update

I changed my GPG key, so you have to switch to this one. Also, the guide on the wiki is sorely out-of-date, use this one instead:
That thread is the ONLY method of using my repo that I keep up-to-date, and therefore the only one that can be expected to be up-to-date.


By: Anonymous

I'm trying to down the Mac4lin.tar.gz file, but the site: is site DB @ 17:17 UTC and the server/site DB went out at 18:38 UTC

13:00 = 1pm
14:00 = 2pm
15:00 = 3pm
16:00 = 4pm
17:00 = 5pm
18:00 = 6pm
19:00 = 7pm
20:00 = 8pm
21:00 = 9pm
22:00 = 10pm
23:00 = 11pm

This is not good...

By: Anonymous

Tested on Fedora 13 and this actually WORKS!!!



Thank you for the excellent guide, but I wanted to let you know that there is a slight error in the text that may cause users problems.

During the portion of the tutorial on the first page where you are utilizing gconfig-editor to change the orientation of the window operations buttons, you mispelled maximize in your first use.

Delete that & type: 'close,minimize,maxmize:menu'

Without the correct spelling of 'maximize' a user will only see the close and minimize buttons.

Again, thank you for your work!

By: Anonymous

hey, can anyone tell me, if you do this, is it easy to change back if you want to? Thanks

By: How to Windows

I've tried to run this and also had trouble switching back...

By: Anonymous

When I go to my add to panel in this proccess it don't look like the screen shot above. Can someone help me??? I can e-mail anyone a screen shot of what mine looks like if you want to help.

By: Anonymous

i tried it on ubuntu 8.10 it works fine

By: vinitd

Has anybody tried this on latest ubuntu (8.10)??

By: Chris Voeltz

wow, im amazed at this guide! love it! mind if i put it on my website with a link to the original source and anything else you would like me to include... email me: [email protected]

and also, i dont have the "Theme Preferences" option... please help me... where and how do i get it?

thanks!! :D

[email protected]

By: RayJ

Flawless execution! I always like the clean look of MacOSX and now I have it!


By: Christian Müller


I have a big problem to find the whole software apps, on which site i can download all files i need for this !

Best Regards

Christian Müller

By: Quentin

- The provided Firefox themes are not compatible with the current version (3.0.5).

- Usplash doesn't work on widescreen. Even the default Ubuntu Usplash is deformed and off-centered.

- Some of the icons still look ugly. Where can I post a screenshot ?



By: Zakir Khan


By: Matt

Hey, this is a fantastic project, but has anyone tried it for Mandriva 2009 yet? Is it guaranteed to work? Do you need GNOME or will it work on KDE?

By: johnnyBob

it works dude easy way to do it is to look at the bottom of the folder and select install then go through and customize the rest yourself

By: Anonymous

Some other Firefox themes that may suit Mac4Lin: (works well on ff 3.5b4) (works quite ok on ff 3.5b4) (works quite ok on ff 3.5b4)

By: Jude Pereira

Can you please send me a link to the wallpaper in your first image? The nice bluish one? Please. Thank you in advance!!!

By: technoeunuch

can this one be updated for gnome 2.26?

By: Bruno Braga

I think there are a lot of changes on the new Ubuntu releases, difficult to follow up.

 I got passed the first steps of the install script by creating the missing directories myself.

mkdir ~/.icons

mkdir ~/.themes

However, the setup does not happen autmaticaly You can just right click the desktop > change background > themes > and choose the mac4lin option saved there.

By: ricardo

guys i dont understand y you are having problems because im using ubuntu 9.10 and i was able to pretty much get everything working. :)

By: LJ Dellar

It is now.  The guide is two years old and following it did not work on version 9.04.


There is a newer guide here 

but it is still a year old and really for 8.10.

By: Ian MacGregor

I've been using Mac4Lin for a while on Ubuntu and I still love it!


The first step of this process crashes latest gnome.

By: Anonymous

Excuse me, but ubuntu 9.10 is not released yet. It's beta, maybe...

By: chambersc

run this (not  sudo or root)

 gconftool-2 --set /apps/metacity/general/button_layout --type string "menu:minimize,maximize,close"

By: gene

Hello, I got everything working per guide. My buttons are on left and I did input the command as copy and paste to get it to move to the left side, but maximize button is missing for some reason. Please help.

By: Peter

this theme is soo brilliant...i applied it flawlessly..always love the look of mac and now i have it on my ubuntu woow..i love you man!!

By: thegamez18

Do not install the theme if you dont want to loose network manager (removes network manager panel applet)

By: Chris

Look at this update to the process...

By: Anonymous

Awsome! i love the mac theme! but I downgraded to ubuntu 7.10, because of network issues, but will this guide work for ubuntu 7.10?

By: network monitoring software

Good job. Thanks for your sharing.

By: Mark

THanks, works great.

Just wanted to know, where can i get those folder icons you are using, and how do I install em?

By: frenchn00b

Hi Linux fans, 

I am pleased to post you the fvwm mac os x design environment. It is also close to this site in term of result. Please find the webpage.

It is  a very powerful Windows manager designed to be simple to everyone.

 or here :


By: Anonymous


I have an arch system set up with gnome. When I downloaded the archive, everything is fine but the cursor archive is corrupt. Please fix it. 


By: Anonymous

I was looking for a way to get rid of the horrible Mac OS X interface on a Mac, and replace it with Gnome or something similar. "Do you want to give your desktop a dash of Mac OS X? Do you want to change your GNOME desktop from the default look to something like this?"  Gods, no!!! This may be beautiful, but utterly annoying in about every single detail.

Well, thanks for your efforts, anyway.

By: Jorge

I tested and installed it in Ubuntu 10.10. It looks great, just 3 clicks and it is installed, easier imposible.

 GREAT. I just wanted to thank.

By: Nick

*You should try macubuntu 10.10 its a much better transformation pack. You can get it here *After you have done i would advise you to download cairo dock to replace the default dock that comes with the package and download the mac os x theme with app it self. *You can search online for gnome global menu applet and install that as well to get the mac menu.

By: Anonymous


 Im a novice at using Linux... Im struggeling with applying the mac theme.

I have downloaded it and installed it, the computer went to the apple Gray with all the taskbars and everything. 

When i follow the instructions, my computer gives me a error  (cant move directory over a directory)...

 Can you assist me with getting this theme working on my pc...

im Running  Ubuntu, 10.04 LTS, Gnome 2.30.2.




By: Moss Bliss

You could just get a copy of MacPup 5.11, a Puppy variant (in turn, a variant on Ubuntu) using Enlightenment Desktop, and have it all - on a CD, run live without even modifying your computer.

By: Dr Freeman

I can personally attest to most of this working with the new Ubuntu Unity display. The perks are that you don't need to install the buggy global menu app, and the unity bar is sort of like a dock. (More win7 than mac though) I just wanted the theme, not necessarily everything so you may find bugs when you implement other parts of this.
Overall, it worked for what I wanted it to do. Your mileage may vary.

On another note, I had several issues with parts of the theme reverting back to what it was prior to the theme install when I tried to install it on the last ubuntu LTS. A reinstall was necessary  a few times, but it was no big issue for me since I was just playing around with it anyway. If it begins to bug out on this release I may get unhappy. But then, this is probably better suited to go on the mac4lin forums than here.


It is tempting to try this since I would always want to try having a mac kind of feel even though I am using linux. I guess it won't hurt if I will give it a try. I wonder if it applies to all kind of Linux.

By: Anonymous

Thank you for your article. It was very useful.

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By: Chetan

You mentioned that this guide works for Gnome. But does it work for Gnome 3?

By: Joel



I'm trying to install Mac4Lin on Centos 7 but I got some errors: 


Please set the Mac4Lin GDM Theme manually by going to System > Admin > Login Window > Local > Theme


cp: cannot stat ‘/etc/gdm/gdm.conf’: No such file or directory

sed: can't read /etc/gdm/gdm.conf: No such file or directory

sed: can't read /etc/gdm/gdm.conf: No such file or directory


how can I solve this issues?