I have been developing under GNU/Linux systems for the last 10 years. Unfortunately my company is going to move developers to macOS systems soon.

Although for most of the part I should be ok (after all, people use programs, not Operative Systems), there are a couple of problems that I need to solve, most of them around having a desktop similar to the one in Linux Mint (Cinnamom), but actually anything looking like gnome2 would do.

Is it possible to install a Linux-like desktop in macOS (or maybe configure macOS to look like a Linux desktop). Essentially I am looking for a simple bottom bar with a couple of links to main applications and a list of opened windows (see image).

enter image description here

Is this possible?

I have searched for this, and what I tend to find is the opposite process, how to make Linux desktops look like macOS desktops...

  • 1
    It does not have to look exactly like linux mint, but is it a least possible to have a theme with a normal app bar instead of the osx one? Commented Aug 2, 2017 at 0:28

4 Answers 4


Just an alternative viewpoint to consider:

Trying to make MacOS appear and behave like Linux (or like Windows, or vice versa) is doomed to failure, because at some point the illusion will break down. There are things that are completely, inherently, and essentially different, which cannot be changed.

The more you pretend that they are the same, the bigger the shock or obstacle when those differences emerge.

I know we all have muscle memory for shortcuts and positions of things, but it doesn't take long to train yourself. The human brain is more programmable than any computer, after all.

  • Also well written apps use Operating Systems APIs to integrate, this keeps all good apps behaving similar to each other eg Xcode, Visual Stuio Code, Pages, Numbers all have a similar menu and keyboard structure. Linux and other Unixes are the odd ones out as they usually don't provide guidelines for writing apps and so they all behave differently.
    – mmmmmm
    Commented Jul 6, 2021 at 10:11

Have a look at ubar. It gives you similar style task-bar.

But if you really want to get benefit from macOS, check out these great tools: Launchbar, iStatmenus

For discovering other useful utilities, checkout Macupdate

  • Alfred 3 is a nice Launchbar alternative and, in my view, easier to use and more comprehensive. That said, Launchbar remains free and Alfred, while free for basic functions, requires a purchase for the "good" stuff!
    – A.fm.
    Commented Aug 2, 2017 at 1:35
  • What are main differences in LaunchBar and Dropzone?
    – Natsfan
    Commented Aug 2, 2017 at 3:09
  • What productivity benefits does iStatMenus provide?
    – benwiggy
    Commented Jul 6, 2021 at 8:56

A good (and small) tool I've added to macOS is skhd as it enabled my computer to open a terminal (iTerm2) with the ^ Control⌥ OptionT keystroke (^ ControlAlt>T on my external keyboards). Install skhd and on the file ~/.skhdrc add

ctrl + alt - t : osascript -e 'tell application "iTerm2" to create window with default profile command ""' || open -na iTerm

Another important one is to install brew as an apt-get/yum replacement.

If you use a lot desktops and desktop change shortcuts with the keyboard go to System Settings → Keyboard → Keyboard Shortcuts → Mission Control and change the shortcuts from ^ Control to ⌘ Command or ❖ Win to this:

mission control keys with command instead

Create ~/Library/KeyBindings/DefaultKeyBinding.dict with:

  "\UF729"  = moveToBeginningOfParagraph:;                    // home
  "\UF72B"  = moveToEndOfParagraph:;                          // end
  "$\UF729" = moveToBeginningOfParagraphAndModifySelection:;  // shift-home
  "$\UF72B" = moveToEndOfParagraphAndModifySelection:;        // shift-end
  "^\UF729" = moveToBeginningOfDocument:;                     // ctrl-home
  "^\UF72B" = moveToEndOfDocument:;                           // ctrl-end
  "^$\UF729" = moveToBeginningOfDocumentAndModifySelection:;  // ctrl-shift-home
  "^$\UF72B" = moveToEndOfDocumentAndModifySelection:;        // ctrl-shift-end
  "^\UF702" = moveWordLeft:;                                  // ctrl-left
  "^$\UF702" = moveWordLeftAndModifySelection:;               // ctrl-shift-left
  "^\UF703" = moveWordRight:;                                 // ctrl-right
  "^$\UF703" = moveWordRightAndModifySelection:;              // ctrl-shift-right
  "^\U7F" = deleteWordBackward:;                              // ctrl-backspace
  "^\UF728" = deleteWordForward:;                             // ctrl-delete
  "^/" = "noop:";                                             // ctrl-slash stops beep

(this file forces you to logout/login to be reloaded, but it's worth it if you use ^ Controlleft or ^ Controlright to move between words on the console!)

To have more ideas read on (You can also swap Control/Option/Command keys, but this varies wildly of what keyboard, how you type, etc.)


I understand this is from 2+ years ago, but some things never change. The desire to customize MacOS, as well as the incessant drum beat of "nope you can't do it." Other wrong answers include:

  • Embrace change
  • it's better this way
  • Once you get used to it, you'll like it

I happen to believe that the UI of an operating system should be customizable. I want it to work MY way. If that means mapping the caps-lock key to cycle between workspaces, that's my prerogative. If I want to change window toggling so it works like KDE/Gnome/Windows, that is my choice.

And I want a 'start' menu on MacOS, that is between me and the universe.

Another fundamental that never changes: Where there's a will, there's a way. I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in wanting to customize the heck out of OSX considering how many tools out there are designed for exactly this purpose. Check out the tools written by manytricks.com (No affiliation). Their apps are not free but look promising.

Rather than trying to make it look completely like Gnome, focus on specific annoyances or things that slow you down. Whether it's alt-tab or other behaviors you want. Focus on the behaviors you want changed and you'll probably find tools that will do what you want.

One word of caution: Many of these tools require the "accessibility" feature of the OS. If your employer has turned that off in the name of security, you might be out of luck.

I'm sorry to say, the best I've found is articles on how to make MacOS look/feel like Windows, not X/Gnome/KDE. You may have some luck reading through those articles and picking specific UI behaviors you want. https://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/how-to-make-mac-look-like-windows-10/#:~:text=How%20to%20make%20your%20Mac%20look%20like%20Windows,switching.%20On%20Windows%2C%20Alt%2BTab%20cycles%20...%20More%20items

  • As it’s currently written, your answer is unclear. Please edit to add additional details that will help others understand how this addresses the question asked. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    Commented Jan 4 at 1:21
  • If we ignore the opinion part, this basically is a link-only answe, with a link which is about Windows instead of Linux. Can you edit the answer to specifically address the question posted on top?
    – nohillside
    Commented May 11 at 16:20

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