In the last section, we covered changing settings and installing updates to Mint. In this section, we will review how to improve your Desktop appearance. These customizations can be divided into six steps:Mint Desktop Appearance Checklist
#1 Customize Your Desktop Background
#2 Customize Your Window Theme
#3 Move Mint Panel aka Task Bar from bottom to side
#4 Add Applets
#5 Add Desklets
#6 Hide Computer and File Manager Icons
#1 Customize Your Desktop Background
To install a custom desktop background image, either right click on the Desktop and select Change Desktop Background or click on System Settings, then Backgrounds. Either way, you reach a screen that looks something like this:
Click on Sarah, Serena, Sonya or Sylvia to get more options. You can also click on Pictures to open your Pictures folder. Or you can place any images you want in a new folder in your Nemo File Manager and then click on the Plus sign at the bottom of the screen to add this folder to the side panel above.
Here are a couple of links to get free background images that are sized at 1920 x 1080 to accurately fit our Acer screen. https://www.opendesktop.org/browse/cat/295/ord/top/#
Add a Slideshow to your Desktop
If you would like use a variety of background images, Cinnamon also allows you to replace your background image with a rotating slideshow with as many images as you want. Just click on Settings and set up a slideshow:
Here is the first slide of the default slideshow:
You can add your own images by creating a folder in Nemo and naming it slideshow. Then click on the plus sign in System Settings, Background to add this folder to Background Images side panel.
#2 Customize Your Window Theme
To change the “theme” used to display open Windows. Click on the System Settings, Appearance, Themes:
The Desktop icon brings up 14 different options. To get more options, click Add Remove at the top of the screen. Scroll down to see 77 options. Then scroll down to Mint XP.
Click Install to install the Mint XP theme to your Desktop themes options.
To change the Window Borders, click on the box on the right. This will bring up 10 different options. To change icons, click on the Icon box which brings up 20 different color options. Click Themes. Click Window Borders and select Bright.
Click Icons and select Mint X Blue. Then Controls and select Mint X Blue. Then Desktop Mint XP. Here is what the Themes screen now looks like:
#3 Move the Panel aka Task bar from the Bottom to the Left Side of your desktop
A Panel in Linux Mint is just like the task bar in Windows. You can use it to place shortcut icons for quick access to the most popular programs and applications you like to use. By default, Linux Mint comes with a bottom panel that shows the time, Internet Network Manager, power status sound settings and other things. It also displays all the open programs across the bottom. The Main Mint Menu is in the left corner of this bottom panel.
Next, let’s move the bottom panel to the left side to give us more vertical space on our desktop. Right click on the bottom panel to bring up this screen:
Click Modify Panel. Then click Move Panel. This brings up a screen highlighting all four panel positions on your Desktop.
Then click on the left side panel to move the bottom panel to the left side. The panel will suddenly move from the Bottom to the Left Side of your Desktop.
This is very helpful when working on documents because our computer screen is much wider than it is tall – so moving the panel to the left side of our screen will give us about one half inch of additional vertical space on our desktop. To make our side panel wider, so our icons can be a little bigger, right click on the panel and this time click Panel Settings. This will bring up the following screen:
Turn on Use Custom Panel Size. Then move the Panel Width Adjustment slider all the way to the right from Smaller to Larger to make the panel as wide as possible.
To Auto Hide then panel, so it only shows when we hover our pointer over it, change “Always Show Panel” to “Auto Hide Panel.”
Now the panel is hidden from the desktop until you hover over it at which time a large and easily read side panel appears with all of your favorite applications.
#4 Remove and Add Applets to the Panel
Applets are small programs in the bottom panel task bar. Right click on the bottom panel to remove or add applets. We will remove Show Desktop. User and Calendar (we will use the desklet calendar instead). Just below the Mint Menu is an icon called Show Desktop. Right click on it and click Remove. In the lower panel, remove the User Applet.
How to Remove the Bluetooth Applet
Just above the User applet in the side panel is a Bluetooth applet. By default, Bluetooth is turned on in your Side Panel when you first turn on your computer. Bluetooth will cause your battery to run out of power more quickly if you are running on battery power. Clicking Quit would hide the applet for the current session, but it will come right back when you restart your computer. To permanently remove Bluetooth from the Panel, right click on it.
Then click on Open Bluetooth Device Manager. Alternately, you can reach the same screen from System Settings, Hardware, Bluetooth. Then click on the Settings tab. Then change Receive Files and Show Tray Icon from On to Off:
Also remove Window List because it has a problem that, if you have several documents open, Window List has the same icon for all of them and there is no way to tell them apart. We will use Window Quick List instead. Window Quick List provides a table of all of them.
Add Applets to the panel
Now we will add the Window Quicklist and the Workspace Switcher. There are 27 applets pre-installed and another 169 available online as well as 17 desklets. Right click on the panel and click Add Applets. Scroll down and select the Workspace Switcher and click the plus sign to add it.
Also add the Window Quick List. These two tools will allow us to have several desktops available with different programs on each and easily switch between them. Scroll up and remove the calendar as we will replace it with a desklet.
#5 Add a Desklet
Right click on the desktop and click Add Desklets. Click on the clock. Then click the plus sign. Then click the Settings wheel. Reduce the font size to 12.
Then pick a color for the text. Then click Close. Here are the codes to customize this desklet.
%a - The abbreviated weekday name (Sun)
%A - The full weekday name (Sunday)
%b - The abbreviated month name (Jan)
%B - The full month name (January)
%d - Day of the month (01..31)
%e - Day of the month (1..31)
%I - Hour of the day, 12-hour clock (01..12)
%M - Minute of the hour (00..59)
%p - Meridian indicator (AM or PM)
%S - Second of the minute (00..59)
%w - Day of the week (Sunday is 0, 0..6)
Use %n to break it up in two lines. We will use the following code to put the time on one line and the Day, Month and Date on a second line:
%l:%M %p%n%a %b%e
Here is what the Configuration screen looks like:
And this is what our Desktop clock looks like:
You can get bigger font size of the panel and it’s items (menu, calendar), if you go to Menu -> Accessibility -> Large Text
#6 Hide Computer and File Manager Icons on Desktop
Since we have the file manager in the left side panel, we do not need it or the computer icon on the desktop. Right click on the Desktop then click Desktop Settings. Turn off Computer and Home. We now have a completely clean desktop to work on.
Now that our desktop appearance has been improved, in the next section we will review how to set up and use the Mint Nemo File Manager.