Difference between revisions of "Uniform look for Qt and GTK applications"

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(Using custom GTK style)
(Using custom GTK style)
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== Using custom GTK style ==
== Using custom GTK style ==
You can use custom styles for GTK2 applications. For this, use GTK2_RC_FILES=/path/to/theme/gtk-2.0/gtkrc appname
You can use custom styles for specific GTK2 applications. For this, use GTK2_RC_FILES=/path/to/theme/gtk-2.0/gtkrc appname
For example:
For example:

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Qt- and GTK+ -based programs both use a different widget toolkit to render the graphical user interface. Each come with different themes, styles and icon sets by default, among other things, so the "look and feel" differ significantly. This article will help you make your Qt and GTK+ applications look similar for a more streamlined and "integrated" desktop experience.

"Qt (pronounced "cute") is a cross-platform application development framework, widely used for the development of GUI programs (in which case it is known as a Widget toolkit), and also used for developing non-GUI programs such as console tools and servers."

  • Theme - Collection of a style, an icon theme and a colour theme.
  • Style - Graphical layout; look.
  • Icon Theme - Set of global icons.
  • Colour Theme - Set of global colours that are used in conjunction with the style.


There are widget style sets available for the purpose of integration, where builds are written and provided for both Qt and GTK+, all major versions included. With these, you can have one look for all applications regardless of the toolkit they had been written with.

Changing Styles

To change the style of Qt3 and KDE3 applications in KDE3:

Control Center (kcontrol) --> Appearance & Themes --> Style

To change the style of Qt3 applications outside of KDE3

Qt Configuration (qt3config) --> Appearance --> Select GUI Style

To change the style of Qt4 and KDE4 applications in KDE4:

System Settings (systemsettings) --> Appearance --> Style

To change the style of Qt4 applications outside of KDE4

Qt Configuration (qtconfig) --> Appearance --> Select GUI Style

To change the GTK+ version 2 style in KDE3:

# pacman -S gtk-chtheme

Run it and you will be able to make your choice. You can also change the fonts. Please note that any open application must be restarted in order to view the changes. Alternatively, you can do the same with an engine, mentioned further below.


Available for qt4 (kde4), qt3 (kde3), and gtk2 (gnome) in the [extra] repository, this highly-configurable style is the most popular all-rounder. It has many controls for various options, ranging from the appearance of buttons to the shape of sliders. You can install all of them using pacman.

# pacman -S qtcurve-gtk2 qtcurve-kde3 qtcurve-kde4

KDE4 Oxygen

QT4 version installs with kde. GTK version available via AUR http://aur.archlinux.org/packages.php?ID=24329 or http://aur.archlinux.org/packages.php?ID=18967


Similar style sets are those that look like each other - written and provided for both Qt and GTK+ - but are not necessarily from the same developers. You may have to do some minor tweaking to make them look the same. Below is a list:

  • klearlooks (qt3); clearlooks (gtk2)

Theme Engines

A Theme Engine can be thought of as a thin layer API which translates themes (excluding icons) between one or more toolkits. These engines add some extra code in the process and it is arguable that this kind of a solution is not as elegant and optimal as using native styles.


This one is for use by GTK+ applications running in KDE, which basically means this is for KDE. It applies all Qt settings (styles, fonts, not icons though) to the GTK+ applications and uses the style plug-ins directly. Please note that there are rendering issues with some Qt styles.

# pacman -S gtk-qt-engine

You can access it from:

Control Center (kcontrol) --> Appearance & Themes --> GTK Styles and Fonts

If you want to remove it entirely and every trace of it, you should delete the following files:

  • ~/.gtkrc2.0-kde
  • ~/.kde/env/gtk-qt-engine.rc.sh
  • ~/gtk-qt-engine.rc

Make it work with OpenOffice

Set (as root):


into /etc/profile. In KDE4 systemsettings, make sure "use my KDE style in GTK applications" is selected in Appearance > GTK styles and fonts.


This is a Qt style which intends to make applications blend perfectly into the GNOME desktop environment by using GTK to render all components. To use this style you must have at least GTK+ 2.0 and Qt 4.3, although Qt 4.4 or higher is preferred.

Note: Beginning with version 4.5 this style is included in Qt. You don't have to install this package yourself, but there is an entry in the AUR for those still interested: [qgtkstyle-svn].

Having trouble making your Qt applications use QGtkStyle?

Qt won't apply QGtkStyle correctly if GTK is using the GTK-QT-Engine. Qt determines whether the GTK-QT-Engine is in use by reading the GTK configuration files listed in the environmental variable GTK2_RC_FILES. If the environmental variable is not set properly, Qt assumes you are using the GTK-QT-Engine, sets QGtkStyle to use the style GTK style Clearlooks, and outputs an error message:

QGtkStyle cannot be used together with the GTK_Qt engine.

Users of Openbox and other non-GNOME environments may encounter this probem. Here is a solution:

  • Tell Qt where to look for your GTK configuration file by adding the following to your Template:Filename file:
    • To add multiple paths, separate them with colons.
    • The $HOME part will expand to be path to your user's home directory. Using the ~ shortcut won't work.



To choose your GTK theme for QT apps you must run:



The metatheme engine is designed as a thin layer between toolkits, creating a unified API by which each theme engine can draw. The result is that every application uses the same code for drawing, making the appearance same across different applications. This engine supports the GTK2, QT/KDE, and Java toolkits.

# pacman -S metatheme

To install..

$ metatheme-install

To configure settings..

$ mt-config

To uninstall..

$ metatheme-install -u

Other Tricks

KDE file dialogs for GTK2 apps

KGtk is a wrapper script that LD_PRELOAD to force KDE file dialogs (open, save, etc) in GTK2 apps. If you use KDE and prefer its file dialogs over GTK's then you can install kgtk from AUR. Once installed you can run GTK2 applications with kgtk-wrapper in 2 ways (using gimp in the examples).

Calling kgtk-wrapper directly and using the GTK2 binary as an arguement

/usr/local/bin/kgtk-wrapper gimp


Creating a symbolic link to kgtk using the name of the GTK2 binary. Then you can run /usr/local/bin/gimp when you want to run gimp with KDE dialogs.

ln -s /usr/local/bin/kgtk-wrapper /usr/local/bin/gimp

aMSN GTK or KDE dialogs

aMSN's TK file dialogs are plain looking but no fear there is a plugin that will allow you to use GTK or KDE file dialogs to match your desktop. You can find the plugin on aMSN's Plugin Page

Using custom GTK style

You can use custom styles for specific GTK2 applications. For this, use GTK2_RC_FILES=/path/to/theme/gtk-2.0/gtkrc appname

For example:

GTK2_RC_FILES=/usr/share/themes/QtCurve/qtk-2.0/gtkrc firefox

It will launch firefox with QtCurve theme.


How do I set styles for each toolkit?

You can use the following methods to change the theme used in each environment.

KDE3 and QT3 styles

  • Control Center (kcontrol) --> Appearance & Themes --> Style --> Widget Style
  • kde-config --style [name of style]
  • /opt/qt/bin/qtconfig

QT4 styles

  • /usr/bin/qtconfig

GTK2 styles

  • gtk-chtheme
  • gtk2_prefs
  • switch2 (gtk-theme-switch2 package)
  • lxappearance

GTK1 styles

  • switch (gtk-theme-switch package)

Themes not working in GTK apps

If the style or theme engine you setup isn't showing in your GTK apps then it's likely your GTK settings files aren't being loaded for some reason. You can check where your system expects to find these files by doing the following..

$ export | grep gtk

Usually the expected files should be ~/.gtkrc for GTK1, ~/.gtkrc2.0 or ~/.gtkrc2.0-kde for GTK2

Newer versions of gtk-qt-engine use ~/.gtkrc2.0-kde and set the export variable in ~/.kde/env/gtk-qt-engine.rc.sh If you recently removed gtk-qt-engine and are trying to set a GTK theme then you must remove ~/.kde/env/gtk-qt-engine.rc.sh and reboot. Doing this will ensure that GTK looks for it's settings in the standard ~/.gtkrc2.0 instead of ~/.gtkrc2.0-kde