Ubuntu’s default icon theme hasn’t changed much in almost 5 years, save for the odd new icon here and thereIf you’re tired of how it looks we’re going to show you a handful of gorgeous alternatives that will easily freshen things up.

Do feel free to share links to your own favourite choices in the comments below.


moka and captiva
Captiva icons, elementary folders and Moka GTK

Captiva is a relatively new icon theme that even the least bling-prone user can appreciate.

Made by DeviantArt user ~bokehlicia, Captiva shuns the 2D flat look of many current icon themes for a softer, rounded look. The icons themselves have an almost material or textured look, with subtle drop shadows and a rich colour palette adding to the charm.

It doesn’t yet include a set of its own folder icons, and will fallback to using elementary (if available) or stock Ubuntu icons. 

To install Captiva icons in Ubuntu 14.04 LTS and above add the official PPA. How? By opening a new Terminal window and entering the following commands:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:captiva/ppa
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install captiva-icon-theme

Or, if you’re not into software source cruft, by downloading the icon pack direct from the DeviantArt page. To install, extract the archive and move the resulting folder to the ‘.icons‘ directory in Home.

However you choose to install it, you’ll need to apply this (and every other theme on this list) using a utility like Unity Tweak Tool.

Captiva Icon Theme on DeviantArt

Square Beam

Square Beam icon set with
Square Beam icon set with Orchis GTK

After something a bit angular? Check out Square Beam. It offers a more imposing visual statement than other sets on this list, with electric colours, harsh gradients and stark iconography. It claims to have more than 30,000 different icons (!) included (you’ll forgive me for not counting) so you should find very few gaps in its coverage.

Square Beam Icon Theme on GNOME-Look.org

Moka & Faba

Moka/Faba Mono Icons with Orchis GTK

The Moka icon suite needs little introduction. In fact, I’d wager a good number of you are already using it

With pastel colours, soft edges and simple icon artwork, Moka is a truly standout and comprehensive set of application icons. It’s best used with its sibling, Faba, which Moka will inherit to fill in all the system icons, folders, panel icons, etc. The combined result is…well, you’ve got eyes!

For full details on how to install on Ubuntu head over to the official project website, link below.

Download Moka and Faba Icon Themes


Compass Icon Theme with Numix Blue GTK

Last on our list, but by no means least, is Compass. This is a true adherent to the ‘2D, two-tone’ UI design right now. It may not be as visually diverse as others on this list, but that’s the point. It’s consistent and uniform and all the better for it — just check out those folder icons!

It’s available to download and install manually through GNOME-Look (link below) or through the Nitrux Artwork PPA:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:nitrux/nitrux-artwork
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install compass-icon-theme

Compass Icon Theme on GNOME-Look.org

captiva Eye Candy faba flattr Icons