From ArchWiki

From MATE homepage:

The MATE Desktop Environment is the continuation of GNOME 2. It provides an intuitive and attractive desktop environment using traditional metaphors for Linux and other Unix-like operating systems. MATE is under active development to add support for new technologies while preserving a traditional desktop experience.


MATE can be installed with one of the following:

  • The mate group contains the core desktop environment required for the standard MATE experience.
  • The mate-extra group contains additional utilities and applications that integrate well with the MATE desktop. Installing just the mate-extra group will not pull in the whole mate group via dependencies. If you want to install all MATE packages then you will need to explicitly install both groups.

The base desktop consists of marco, mate-panel and mate-session-manager.

MATE applications

MATE is largely composed of GNOME 2 applications and utilities, forked and renamed to avoid conflicting with their GNOME 3 counterparts. Below is a list of common GNOME applications which have been renamed in MATE.

Application GNOME 2 MATE
Menu editor Alacarte mozo
File manager Nautilus caja
Window manager Metacity marco
Text editor Gedit pluma
Image viewer Eye of GNOME Eye of MATE (eom)
Document viewer Evince atril
Archive manager File Roller engrampa

Other applications and core components prefixed with GNOME (such as GNOME Terminal, GNOME Panel, GNOME Menus, etc.) have had the prefix changed to MATE so they become MATE Panel, MATE Menus etc.

Additional MATE packages

There are a number of other unofficial MATE applications that are contributed to and maintained by the MATE community and therefore not included in the mate or mate-extra groups.

  • Dock Applet — Application dock for the MATE panel. || mate-applet-dock
  • Online Radio Applet — A MATE panel applet to let you play your favourite online radio station with a single click. || mate-applet-streamer
  • MATE Menu — Advanced menu for MATE Panel, a fork of MintMenu. || mate-menuAUR
  • MATE Tweak — Tweak tool for MATE, a fork of mintDesktop. || mate-tweakAUR
  • BriskMenu — Modern, efficient menu for the MATE Desktop Environment from SolusOS distribution. || brisk-menuAUR

Additional packages need to be installed to take advantage of some of Caja's advanced features - see File manager functionality.

Starting MATE

Choose MATE from the menu in a display manager of choice.

Alternatively, to start MATE with startx, append exec mate-session to your ~/.xinitrc file.


MATE can be configured with its Control Center application (mate-control-center) provided by the mate-control-center package. To manage some hardware, you may need to install additional tools.

ALSA and PulseAudio backends are supported by the mate-media package.
For Bluetooth device support, install the blueman package. See Blueman.
For configuring the network, install the network-manager-applet package. See NetworkManager.
UPower backend is supported by the mate-power-manager package.
For configuring the printers, install the system-config-printer package.


MATE is well suited for use by individuals with sight or mobility impairment. Install orca, espeakAUR (Screen reader for individuals who are blind or visually impaired) and onboard (On-screen keyboard useful for mobility impaired users)

Before starting MATE for the first time, enter the following command as the user who needs accessibility features:

$ gsettings set org.mate.interface accessibility true

Once you start MATE, you can configure the accessibility applications via System > Preferences > Assistive Technologies, although if you need Orca, you will need to run it from the Alt-F2 run window in order to start getting speech.


Battery discharge

To disable the notification on battery discharge, run:

$ gsettings set org.mate.power-manager notify-discharging false

See Backlight#Kernel command-line options.

Tips and tricks

Disabling compositing

Compositing is enabled by default. To disable it, navigate to Look and Feel > Windows > General in the System Preferences and tick the box alongside Enable software compositing window manager. Alternatively, you can run the following from the terminal:

$ gsettings set org.mate.Marco.general compositing-manager false

Disabling new window centering

By default, new windows are placed in the center. To disable centering new windows, navigate to run Windows > Placement in the System Preferences and tick the box alongside Center new windows. Alternatively, you can run the following from the terminal:

$ gsettings set org.mate.Marco.general center-new-windows false

Disabling window snapping

Window snapping is enabled by default. To disable it, navigate to run Windows > Placement in the System Preferences and tick the box alongside Enable window tiling. Alternatively, you can run the following from the terminal:

$ gsettings set org.mate.Marco.general allow-tiling false

Undecorating maximized windows

Hiding the decorations of maximized windows is possible with the use of mate-tweakAUR tool; after installation navigate to Look and Feel > MATE Tweak > Windows in the System Preferences and enable Undecorate maximized windows in the Window Behaviour section.

Tip: If this option is grayed out and unavailable, make sure mate-netbook is installed.

Show or hide desktop icons

By default, MATE shows multiple icons on the desktop: the content of your desktop directory, computer, home and network directories, the trash and mounted drives. You can show or hide them individually or all at once using gsettings.

Hide all desktop icons

$ gsettings set org.mate.background show-desktop-icons false

Doing so may cause some graphics artifacts on secondary monitors.

Hide individual icons

Hide computer icon:

$ gsettings set org.mate.caja.desktop computer-icon-visible false

Hide user directory icon:

$ gsettings set org.mate.caja.desktop home-icon-visible false

Hide network icon:

$ gsettings set org.mate.caja.desktop network-icon-visible false

Hide trash icon:

$ gsettings set org.mate.caja.desktop trash-icon-visible false

Hide mounted volumes:

$ gsettings set org.mate.caja.desktop volumes-visible false

Replace false with true for the icons to reappear.

Use a different window manager

The marco window manager can be replaced with another window manager via either of the following methods:

Using gsettings (recommended)

Execute the following to specify a different window manager for MATE:

$ gsettings set org.mate.session.required-components windowmanager wm-name
Using MATE session autostart

You can autostart a window manager of your choice using mate-session-properties. This means that the autostarted window manager will replace the default window manager at login. Navigate to Startup Applications in the System Preferences. In the dialog click Add. The command should take the syntax wm-name --replace.

Prevent Caja from managing the desktop

To prevent Caja from managing the desktop, execute the following:

$ gsettings set org.mate.background show-desktop-icons false
$ killall caja  # Caja will be restarted by session manager

Change window decoration button order

You can change the button order using the graphical dconf-editor or the gsettings command line tool:

$ gsettings set org.mate.Marco.general button-layout 'close,maximize,minimize:'

and put menu, close, minimize and maximize in your desired order, separated by commas. The colon is used to specify on which side of the titlebar the window buttons will appear and must be used for the changes to apply.

Auto open file manager after drive mount

By default, MATE automatically opens a new file manager window when a drive is mounted. To disable this:

$ gsettings set automount-open false

And to disable automounting:

$ gsettings set automount false

Spatial view in Caja

To ensure that each new folder opens in a new window (known as spatial view), open Caja's preferences dialog, click on the behaviour tab and tick the 'Open each folder in its own window' option. Alternatively, execute the following command which achieves the same effect:

$ gsettings set org.mate.caja.preferences always-use-browser false

Change font DPI setting

You can alter the DPI (dots per inch) of the fonts in MATE by right-clicking on the desktop and choosing Change desktop background > Fonts > Details > Resolution.

Change applications menu icon

By default, the applications menu icon is set to start-here. To use a different icon, copy your icon to a folder such as /usr/local/share/pixmaps and execute the following:

$ gsettings set org.mate.panel.menubar icon-name icon

where icon is the name of your icon. Do not include the file extension in the icon name. Finally, restart MATE Panel.

Panel speed settings

Hide/Unhide delay

To adjust the amount of time it takes for the panel to disappear or reappear when autohide is enabled, execute the following:

$ dconf write /org/mate/panel/toplevels/panel/(un)hide-delay time

where panel is either top or bottom and time is a value in miliseconds, e.g. 300.

Animation speed

To set the speed at which panel animations occur, execute the following:

$ dconf write /org/mate/panel/toplevels/panel/animation-speed value

where panel is either top or bottom and value is either "'fast'", "'medium'" or "'slow'".

Set the terminal for caja-open-terminal

The caja-open-terminal extension uses GSettings to determine which terminal to use - mate-terminal is the default. To change the terminal that will be used, run the following command

$ gsettings set org.mate.applications-terminal exec my-terminal

where my-terminal is the name of the terminal executable to be launched, for example: xterm.


Toggling compositing

Some software may have issues rendering graphics when working on an environment using the NVIDIA proprietary drivers and a compositing window manager.

To easily toggle the compositing feature, save the following script somewhere within the Home directory:

if [ "$(gsettings get org.mate.Marco.general compositing-manager)" = "true" ]
  gsettings set org.mate.Marco.general compositing-manager false
  gsettings set org.mate.Marco.general compositing-manager true

and then create a custom keyboard shortcut that executes the file, e.g. Ctrl+Alt+C, to sh ~/.scripts/

Vertical sync for compositing

Mate's window manager, marco, supports tear-free software compositing via DRI3/Xpresent. [1]

If your graphics driver does not support DRI3 (e.g. the Nvidia Proprietary driver), marco does not support vertical synchronization via OpenGL, which may cause video tearing with enabled compositing. [2] In this case, consider a different composite manager with OpenGL support such as picom.

Consistent cursor theme

See Cursor themes#Desktop environments.

Use of gradient backgrounds with LightDM

If you wish to use the default MATE (1.8) Stripes background as the LightDM background as well so as to make for seamless transition from LightDM to MATE, you will find that it is runtime-constructed from a grayscale PNG upon which MATE layers a vertical blue-to-green gradient, something which LightDM does not currently support. If insistent, you can work around this by temporarily setting /org/mate/desktop/background/show-desktop-icons to false, either through the dconf-editor tool available from the System Tools menu or by running

$ gsettings set org.mate.background show-desktop-icons false

from the Alt-F2 Run Application dialog, then running killall mate-panel from said dialog and hitting Print Screen before the panel reappears. You are then presented with a Save As dialog for exactly that fully rendered, screen-sized PNG that you need for LightDM. Run

$ gsettings set org.mate.background show-desktop-icons true

to have your desktop icons reappear, if desired.

Enabling panel shadow

Due to a race condition, the panel shadow does not appear after logging in to the MATE desktop, even with compositing enabled. [3]

Copy /usr/share/applications/marco.desktop and add a delay:

Note: Delays are only allowed in the applications phase, hence X-MATE-Autostart-Phase must be set to Applications.

If this has no effect, increase the delay duration.

Disabling scroll in taskbar

This article or section is being considered for removal.

Reason: This section is ancient: the behavior is not uncommon nowadays and the link to the patch has been broken for nearly a year. (Discuss in Talk:MATE)

A feature of the MATE panel window list is that windows can be scrolled through using the mouse or touchpad. This feature may be troublesome for some as there is potential for accidental, unintended scrolling through windows.

Whilst there is no way of disabling this feature through MATE's settings, this feature can be disabled by patching libwnck3 using the Arch build system; in this case, rebuild libwnck3 with the following patch[dead link 2023-07-30 ⓘ]. For more information on rebuilding packages with patches applied, see Patching in ABS#Applying patches.

Logout/shutdown delayed by at-spi-registryd

When logging out or shutting down, you may find that you are presented with an A program is still running: at-spi-registryd.desktop popup. As a workaround, you can prevent at-spi-registryd from starting - see GTK#Suppress warning about accessibility bus - though this may have an effect on some accessibility features.

Caja's text file preview

Since the migration to GTK 3 this feature is not working.[4]

GTK 2 applications seem to ignore default MATE themes

Themes that come with mate-themes need optional dependencies gtk-engines and gtk-engine-murrine for GTK 2 themes to function properly.

Extra decoration on CSD applications

An extra decoration can appear on CSD applications (Firefox, Visual Studio Code...) when they are unmaximized.[5]

Uninstalling the package mate-netbook solves the issue.

Keyboard layout selector

When multiple keyboard layouts are enabled, a layout selection icon is displayed in the system tray. Because of a bug ([6]), depending on the currently used theme, it sometimes happens to be displayed with white font on bright background (or in some other barely legible configuration, such as with green font).

This issue can be worked around by manually setting the font color (e.g., '0 0 0' for black):

$ gsettings set org.mate.peripherals-keyboard-xkb.indicator foreground-color '0 0 0'

See also