Howto: Remove the borders of your desktop icon text

August 27, 2007 at 9:59 am | Posted in xubuntu | 20 Comments

Some themes, like Carbonit, theme the border of your desktop icons. Most of them, however, don’t, and they can leave your icons with ugly borders around the text. With this tip, you can get your icons looking like this:

Desktop icons without text borders

Nice, huh? Let’s get started!

1) Open up a terminal, and create and edit a GTK configuration file:

touch ~/.gtkrc-2.0
mousepad ~/.gtkrc-2.0

2) Copy and paste in it the following:

style "xfdesktop-icon-view" {
XfdesktopIconView::label-alpha = 0
widget_class "*XfdesktopIconView*" style "xfdesktop-icon-view"

You can also change the font colors.

style "xfdesktop-icon-view" {
XfdesktopIconView::label-alpha = 0

base[NORMAL] = "#3F6BA4"
base[SELECTED] = "#3F6BA4"
base[ACTIVE] = "#3F6BA4"

fg[NORMAL] = "#ffffff"
fg[SELECTED] = "#ffffff"
fg[ACTIVE] = "#ffffff"
widget_class "*XfdesktopIconView*" style "xfdesktop-icon-view"

Gives the icon text a dark black background with white text.

3) Save the file and exit. You may need to log out and in again for the changes to take effect.

If you’d like, you can also make the icon text border transparent with your wallpaper. The end result would be something like this:

Transparent desktop icons

Looks nice? Here’s how you do it:

1) Open up a terminal, and create and edit a GTK configuration file:

touch ~/.gtkrc-2.0
mousepad ~/.gtkrc-2.0

2) Copy and paste in it the following:

style "xfdesktop-icon-view" {

XfdesktopIconView::label-alpha = 20
font_name="Sans Bold"

base[NORMAL] = "#ffffff"
base[SELECTED] = "#ffffff"
base[ACTIVE] = "#fefefe"

fg[NORMAL] = "#ffffff"
fg[SELECTED] = "#73B2D0"
fg[ACTIVE] = "#D17100"
widget_class "*XfdesktopIconView*" style "xfdesktop-icon-view"

You can change the number in XfdesktopIconView::label-alpha to your liking. Enjoy!

(Thanks to PrimoTurbo at for this tip!)


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  1. nice! thank you!

  2. Icon labels styles on the Xfce desktop.

    The icon labels, with my Xfce default theme, were plain white, no transparency, not so nice.
    This can be changed in the ~/.gtkrc-2.0 file. Here is mine:
    style “xfdesktop-icon-view” {
    XfdesktopIconView::label-alpha = 30
    font_name=”Sans Bold”…

  3. […] the quality of the experience and its not really explained anywhere how to get rid of it.  The Xubuntu blog pointed me in the right direction and I created a Frankenstein .gtkrc-2.0 file which lessens the […]

  4. hi,

    thx for the howto – works nice in xfce, but
    do you have any idea, how to get the same result (transparency behind the text) in gnome?

  5. Xubuntu 9.04 XfdesktopIconView::label-alpha = 0 doesn’t work any more for [ACTIVE] + [SELECTED]. Is there any possibility to get back to the old behaviour?

  6. Xubuntu 9.10 Review and Commentary…

    With the recent release of Ubuntu 9.10, we decided to take it for a spin and gave you our Ubuntu 9.10 review. Now we’re going to take a look at one of the spin-offs of Ubuntu 9.10, Xubuntu. Xubuntu is basically, the Ubuntu core with XFCE as the deskto…

  7. […] They've made some nice improvements to the visual look of the default desktop. We personally like the dark scheme but would prefer to see transparent icon backgrounds (which is something we find ourselves changing after every xfce installation we do.. for the record.. to make the background on the text transparent in XFCE, you can use this tutorial.) […]

  8. Youre allowed a collection of books from one author only for the rest of your life and no access to any others. Which author do you choose?

  9. I’m making a new version of XXCE 2.2 (based on Xubuntu Hardy) and I want to make the transparent borders the default for all users. How do I do that?

  10. […] “Xfce is a lightweight desktop environment for various *NIX systems. Designed for […]

  11. (Объединенное командование ПВО Северной Америки) начали отслеживать перемещения Санты-Клауса в канун Рождества.

  12. You’re going about things the hard way. Why use touch to create a file then edit it when you can just open mousepad and use Save As to create it?

  13. this is very interesting article. many knowledge to new user.

  14. […] Opširnije na Xubuntu Blog. […]

  15. […] Thanks to Xubuntu Blog. […]

  16. thanks man …you’re the best ! keep it up!

  17. […] Log out and in. Hint is from here. […]

  18. I have tried other ways and failed… :(, but with your explanation i was able to make it :D, really thanks for the help!

  19. […] Hint is from here. […]

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