After writing about Linux cursor theme Phinger a few folks asked if I had a guide on how to change cursor theme in Ubuntu.

I didn’t, so I figured I’d write one.

So this is a quick tutorial that shows you how to change cursor theme on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS (and above) and how to install cursor themes available to download from sites like GNOME Look and Github.

Then, to help you put all of the information to good use, I list a couple of third-party cursor sets I think look dope on the ‘buntu desktop — but feel free to ignore these and use something else!

Although guide is written for Ubuntu 20.04 LTS (and above) the steps I outline below should work on older versions of the distro, as well as other Linux distros that use the GNOME desktop by default.

Let’s get into it!

How to Change Cursor Theme on Ubuntu

gnome tweaks screenshot
GNOME Tweaks is indispensable

The easiest way to change cursor theme on Ubuntu is using the GNOME Tweaks tool.

You can install GNOME Tweaks using the Ubuntu Software app (just search for ‘GNOME Tweaks’ and hit ‘Install’ on the result) or by running sudo apt install gnome-tweaks from the command line.

Once installed you can open GNOME Tweaks, and select the Appearance section from left-hand sidebar. In the Appearance panel that appears on the right you just need to click on the menu picker beside the ‘cursor’ option (it’ll read ‘Yaru’ by default) and select from the cursor themes installed on your system.

You’ll quickly discover that Ubuntu doesn’t ship with many pointer packs out of the box. But you can download more cursor themes from the web and install them locally. They’ll then be available to select from GNOME Tweaks.

How to Install Cursor Themes in Ubuntu

It's easy to install cursor themes on ubuntu
It’s easy to install cursor themes

Ubuntu’s default set of pointers isn’t exactly wild. So, for more choice, you’ll want to seek out some third-party sets yourself.

Typically, you will download third-party pointer packs as a compressed archive, usually a .zip or .tar.gz. Right-click on these in Ubuntu’s default file manager Nautilus and choose “Extract Here” to ‘unpack’ them.

Then you can install them.

How? Just move, cut, or copy the ‘source’ folder for the cursor theme you want to install — this will be a folder will several files inside, including one named cursor.theme — to the (hidden) .icons directory in your ~/Home folder

If the .icons folder is not present on your system (and it isn’t included in Ubuntu by default, so this is likely) you can go ahead and create a new folder and name it — just remember to use all lowercase letters for ‘icons’ and include the preceding . character.

Remember: press ctrl + h to view hidden files/folders in Nautilus, and press again to re-hide.

Any cursor themes you place inside the .icons folder will show up in the cursor theme picker in GNOME Tweaks (though you will need to close and reopen the app if you add a theme while the utility is open).

3 Cool Cursor Themes for Ubuntu

bibata cursors
Pick one: Bibata

Bibata is a modern “material design” inspired pointer pack for Linux (and Windows). It’s available in a variety of flavours, including an ‘ice’ variant.

Nord colour cursors for linux
Pick two: Nordzy

Nord, like Dracula, is a hugely popular colour scheme. Nordzy is a classy cursor theme designed to compliment desktops where the Nord theme rules the roost.

a screenshot of the arc midnight cursor set for linux
Pick 3: ArcMidnight

ArcMidnight is a somewhat stylised set of pointers owing to the thick black border around each glyph, but it gives each item a presence. On desktops where a strong, confident look is the aim, these are perfect.

Summary

In this post I showed you how to change cursor theme in Ubuntu (use GNOME Tweaks), how to install third-party cursor themes (unzip them to ~/.icons), and shared a few pointer packs that offer a more stylised alternative to the default Yaru pointer pack.

How To cursor themes ubuntu basics