Ugly window colors

I just find the windows / colors ugly. Blah grays. Back a few versions, there was “Ozone” which looked nice and crisp, professional. But it was dropped and the windows seem to simulate Microsoft windows and all this transparency stuff.

I’m afraid I don’t even know what to ask other than how to make it better. I probably need to learn something about the concepts here, but don’t know where to look. It’s odd and doesn’t make sense to me. I’m guessing there’s something about general styles, and then something about individual colors.

There’s Workspace themes, Look and Feel, Desktop Theme, Cursor Theme. There’s colors. There’s Application style, Widget style, Window Decorations, Gnome Application style. There used to be many more options in previous versions which only added to the confusion.

I’ve tried Get new Themes and Get New Decorations. It changes some things, but not sure which is what I want. It’s hard to see the little tiny brief preview, guess it might be useful, install it and then find it’s just more blah, or something really horrible.

My main complaint for now is the title background color and the window edges. It’s sometimes hard to see the title bar to drag it and where the window edges are to enlarge them. I thought that was the usefulness of windows and making it heard to see where the edges are doesn’t seem to fit it. And sometimes the windows blink when enlarging, or on dropdown selections (maybe a different issue than theme selection).

I’m happy enough if I could change color codes in a configuration file. But when I look in ~/.local/share/plasma (not sure if “Plasma” is what I want), there are theme names that don’t match what my systems settings names are. There’s also share/aurorae, but I see that nowhere in the system settings. I’ve read some (aurorae?) are better for KDE than others in compatibility mode.

Right now, I see highlighted openSUSE look and feel, Oxygen desktop theme, Fusion (where’d that come from and why no get more widget styles?) widget style, and air-oxygen window decorations. I’m using KDE, not Gnome, so does GTK themes have any use?
So I need some direction here. Preferably including a quick fix for titlebar color for now.

Maybe you should be browsing the themes in the KDE store?


TSU has already pointed you to a permanent solution.

Yes, you do need a GTK theme. E.g. Firefox is a GTK program and will use that theme.

To make your title bars stand out, go into colors, and choose “Edit Theme”(not sure it is called that, I am using a Dutch locale). Go to the colors page and choose “Active titlebar”. Then you get a window where you can adjust the color. I have a nice, shiny blue color selected here. Same for “Inactive title bar”, where I have a muted grey color. Inactive windows do not interest me. That is all.

And if you want to have back the old “KDE4” style, install the package oxygen5… (and then maybe choose “Oxygen” in the look&feel settings, or configure the individual things separately)

“Ozone” was just a fork of that, and later incorporated into the original thing (oxygen) years ago, in KDE4 times already (4.4 or 4.5 IIRC).

Yes, I’ve been there. But I don’t see much help there compared to get new themes. It’s a little tiny brief preview window, usually showing the desktop and no windows and the title bar. I see it futile to by brute force download and install each one of hundreds to see if it is of any benefit.

How do I install a GTK theme? That is, how do I determine which are and aren’t? I see little if any in the list saying “GTK”. So you must mean something else by GTK which is what I don’t know.

My current theme is “Oxygen”. Is that GTK?
I go into Colors, notice Oxygen is highlighted, click Edit Scheme, then Colors, scroll down to Active Titlebar, notice it is a nice blue color. I even change it slightly, save as a new scheme, apply, and my title bar is still an ugly gray translucent color.

Installing and configuring a GTK theme won’t change your windows, it will just change the look of GTK applications.

My current theme is “Oxygen”. Is that GTK?

Oxygen is Oxygen.

The widget style is available for Qt and GTK (only GTK2 though because GTK3 dropped support for custom theme engines).

Change the window decoration to “Oxygen”.

Ok, so I don’t know what a GTK theme is. Is that what I need? If so, where do I find it?

Is “widget style” while I want? Do I have Qt and GTK3? How do you know?

Window decoration is currently set to air-oxygen. I am unable to try to install the oxygen5 theme as I’m having more trouble with the opensuse update repositories. It times out saying it can’t load

When I look through the web interface, there is no media.1 nor media folder under oss. So I don’t know if this is a temporary server problem or additional ISP issues preventing me from using the system. The software management system shows the same version on the ISO as at oss, and it is currently checked on each portion of oxygen5, but why it wants to download oxygen5-cursors from the internet instead of the local ISO, I don’t know. I read setting priorities no longer is useful, but I think I’ll try it and see if it works. I don’t know a lot of the answers, and I don’t even know the questions to ask.

My KInfocenter says I have KDE 5.8.7, Qt 5.62 so I must have something there. But what that means exactly in selecting Qt and GTK themes, widgets, decorations, I don’t know. But I do know my title bar is still ugly gray.

The openSUSE download system is down today seems a serious hardware crash. So wait a while until they get it fixed.

Check here

If I set “window background” rather than “active title bar”, it changes the title bar. I’m calling the title bar the area at the top of each window which contains text of the window title. But that’s the background so on some applications it includes not only the title bar but also menu bar and toolbar. Not exactly what I want.

Ah, thank you! I couldn’t figure out why I was having trouble when just a day or two I wasn’t. No Get New Themes show, either. I will wait.

GTK is a toolkit that certain (GNOME e.g.) applications use to draw their GUI.
Changing the GTK theme will modify the appearance of those applications that use GTK.

KDE applications use Qt though.

And the window borders and title bars are unrelated to both. Their look depends on the window decoration (only).

Window decoration is currently set to air-oxygen.

You mean this one?

Well, that’s how it is designed obviously.

Maybe switch back to “Breeze” for now (as long as the repos are unreachable), that is installed by default.
Or Plastik, which was available in KDE3 already (and the default in later 3.x versions).

That’s completely unrelated to the outage though. That server is provided by KDE.
And I have no problem with that here…

Ok, the downloads work, and the Get New Themes was working for me after you posted that.

Switching to Breeze window decorations seem to work good enough for now. It allows you to change some of the colors unlike when I tried before. I don’t really understand it all, but can get by for now. Thanks.

Is there some place that goes through each thing telling what it impacts, why you would want to change it? For example, changing Look And Feel does such-and-such, changing Desktop Theme does other things (maybe impacts other settings such as cursors?), etc.

As I already wrote, you might also install the package oxygen5 ( should be fine by now) and switch to “Oxygen” (not “Air-Oxygen” or the like), that would more or less look similar to the old Ozone decoration you mentioned.

Is there some place that goes through each thing telling what it impacts, why you would want to change it?

Hm, maybe?
Although that’s not fully up-to-date…

For example, changing Look And Feel does such-and-such, changing Desktop Theme does other things (maybe impacts other settings such as cursors?), etc.

Well, a quick “round-up”:

  • Application Style->Window Decorations apply to the borders and the title bar of windows, as already mentioned

  • Application Style->Widget Style determines how the GUI elements in Qt/KDE applications look like. There’s also “GNOME Application Style (GTK)” that does the same for GTK (GNOME) applications, other toolkits are not supported by KDE’s settings.

  • Workspace Style->Desktop Theme changes the appearance of the Plasma desktop and its elements, like the panel and desktop widgets

  • You can change the mouse cursor in Workspace Style->Cursor Theme

  • Colors changes the colors that applications use for certain elements (again depends on the applications and the toolkit they use as well)

  • The icon theme (“Icons”) determines the look of the icons that applications use (although again it depends on the application itself too whether it respects the configured icon theme)

  • Workspace Style->Look And Feel is a shortcut to change all of the above to one coherent theme.

In short, KDE’s settings are mainly geared towards Qt/KDE applications (and the KDE desktop), although some settings are (tried to be) applied to other applications as well where possible.

Yes, I have oxygen5 installed. However, selecting oxygen theme on window decorations leaves an indistinguishable title bar. I can change the color of the window background, but it all it does is change the gray to the color but makes the whole window that color, title bar and background. Breeze allowed it to use the active title bar color. But nothing at all like Ozone with its crisp lines.

This image doesn’t do it justice, but does show the lines. Mine had a different title bar color with white lines.

The system settings link just says things like

Window Decorations

Here you can select which window theme you want to use. The window theme affects how window title bars and window edges look like as well as the buttons in the titleline. You can fine tune the chosen theme using the Configure Decorations… and Configure Buttons… buttons and the Get New Decorations… button lets you download more themes.

That documentation doesn’t seem much helpful as I figured Window decorations allowed me to choose window decorations. I find much documentation is like that such as for the boot loader, the help says select where to install the boot loader. I figured that’s what the checkmarks meant, but what does each do. But that’s a different issue.

Maybe I don’t know what a widget and GUI element is. Is a title bar not a GUI element?

Those “crisp lines” were actually part of Oxygen (and therefore “inherited” by Ozone, which as I wrote was just a slightly modified version of Oxygen that allowed to have a colored title bar too).
They have been removed in later versions though (4.7 or something like that).

But, as I wrote, Oxygen does allow to have a colored (i.e. not with the background color) title bar since years, and that’s why Ozone got dropped.
You can enable/disable that in KDE’s settings:
Application Appearance->Window Decoration, click on the configure button for Oxygen (the small button in the lower-left corner of the preview) and untick the box “Use the same color for title bar and window content” on the first tab (“General”).

Alternatively you can run “oxygen-settings5” to get to the same settings (choose “Oxygen Window Decoration” on the left).

Maybe I don’t know what a widget and GUI element is. Is a title bar not a GUI element?

No, in the same way as the desktop’s panel e.g. is not a widget.

It does contain several widgets though, e.g. the minimize and maximize buttons.

A “widget” in this sense is just a (usually small) GUI element that you can interact with, e.g. a button or checkbox.