The good thing about XFCE is that it is very customizable, including the ability to change the panel color. If you don’t like the default color of the XFCE panel, here we show you how to make the XFCE panel transparent and the terminal too.
Make XFCE panels transparent
For this tutorial, we are using XFCE with its default configuration of two panels at the top and bottom of the screen. Let’s start with the top panel. Right click on it and choose “Panel -> Panel Preferences …”
Go to the Appearance tab and notice how it offers two opacity controls. The second, Exit, defines the transparency of the panel at all times. The first, Input, affects the level of transparency when the panel is active when you point to or interact with it.
Since you cannot use the panel and change its opacity at the same time, use the Leave value as a demonstration of how the panel will look when active.
When you find the opacity level you want, use that value for the other slider, which sets the active opacity of the panel. Since you are going to be interacting with it, you want everything to remain readable, so we suggest you don’t go below 50%. We used a value of 75%.
Then go back to the Exit slider and adjust it further to set the desired opacity for the panel at any time. If you don’t occasionally check the information on this panel, even making it completely transparent won’t make any difference in usability. We prefer a value of 25 percent.
Your top panel is ready! Repeat the same steps for the bottom panel, setting its active and inactive opacity to the values you prefer. We used the same values for both panels because we like to have a more uniform look.
With our panels out of the way, let’s turn our attention to the main tool through which most users interact with their Linux installation: the terminal. Right click on an empty spot on your desktop and choose “Open Terminal Here” from the menu that appears.
When your terminal window appears, choose “Edit -> Preferences …”
Go to the Appearance tab and check the drop-down menu in the Background section. This is where the transparency option is hidden.
Click on this menu and choose the Transparent background option. Your terminal will instantly become semi-transparent.
The main purpose of your terminal is to allow your interaction with your computer, not to look pretty on your desktop. So, make sure you can read what’s displayed there, and if not, increase the opacity level until you can see everything comfortably. Then turn it up again, for good measure.
You better play it safe, as your terminal probably works like ours, using colors to differentiate items. Suppose you reduce the opacity too much by using an intricate drawing or photograph as the background. In this case, some of the colors of the terminal could blend into the background, making some texts unreadable.
However, especially for the terminal, you should check it in action by trying different commands. Then, depending on how comfortable you feel with the results or if your eyes hurt, go back to the Appearance options on your terminal and adjust the Opacity slider accordingly.
If you’re new to XFCE, be sure to check out our XFCE review and some of the best XFCE themes.
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