Enable Light Mode Menus (System Menu, Notifications) in Ubuntu 21.04

Last updated: April 2, 2021

Prefer the light mode appearance? Here’s how to change the system tray menu, date & time menu, notifications, and other top panel drop-down menus from dark to light in Ubuntu 21.04.

Different to previous Ubuntu releases, Ubuntu 21.04 now has top-panel menus in dark mode. It’s good for those prefer the dark themes. However, light mode fans need to change the Gnome Shell theme to get better experience.



1. Install User Themes Extension:

To get started, you have to first install the User Themes Gnome Shell extension, which enables ability to change the Gnome Shell Theme.

Method 1: Install the extension via single command:

Press Ctrl+Alt+T on keyboard to bring up a terminal window and run the command below will install a dozen of extensions, including User Themes, in Ubuntu:

sudo apt install gnome-shell-extensions

Once installed, log out and back in.

Method 2: Install the extension from extensions.gnome.org:

For clean freak just need the single extension, firstly install chrome-gnome-shell package via command:

sudo apt install chrome-gnome-shell

Then click to go to the extension web page and turn on the toggle icon to install the extension.

Don’t see the toggle icon? Click ‘Click here to install browser extension’ to install browser extension, and then refresh the web page.

2. Change Gnome Shell Theme:

After installed User Themes extension, launch Gnome Tweaks (install it from Ubuntu Software) and go to Extensions tab.

There scroll down, find out and turn on the extension, click the gear button to get into settings. And finally select Yaru-light or gnome classic for even light top panel.

That’s it. Enjoy!


I'm a freelance blogger who started using Ubuntu in 2007 and wishes to share my experiences and some useful tips with Ubuntu beginners and lovers. Please comment to let me know if the tutorial is outdated! And, notify me if you find any typo/grammar/language mistakes. English is not my native language. Contact me via [email protected] Buy me a coffee: https://ko-fi.com/ubuntuhandbook1

3 responses to Enable Light Mode Menus (System Menu, Notifications) in Ubuntu 21.04

  1. Hahahaha no way…. Just installed 20.10 and did the opposite cos I don’t like light theme and was not able to get complete dark theme from regular settings. How is that canonical don’t provide an easy way to change this?

  2. User themes extension just lists “Default”. There’s no “Yaru Light”
    any hints ?

    • Try Gnome Tweaks, either search for and install ‘gnome tweaks’ via Ubuntu Software or run command in terminal:

      sudo apt install gnome-tweaks

      Then launch Gnome Tweaks and navigate to Appearance in left pane. If user themes extension was successfully installed, you should be able to select ‘Yaru Light’ from the drop-down box after Shell.