How to Make XFCE’s Panels and Terminal Transparent

Xfce Transparent Panels Terminal Featured

The good thing about XFCE is that it is very customizable, including the ability to change the color of the panel. If you don’t like the default color of the XFCE panel, we show you here 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 … “

Xfce Transparent Panels Terminal Top Panel Prefs

Move to the Appearance tab and notice how it offers two Opacity controls. The second one, Leave, defines how transparent the panel will look at any time. The first one, Enter, affects the level of transparency when the panel is active when you are pointing at or interacting with it.

Since you can’t be using the panel and tweaking its opacity at the same time, use the Leave value as a demo for how you want the panel to look when active.

Xfce Transparent Panels Terminal Opacity Test Value

When you find the opacity level that you like, use this value for the other slider, which sets the panel’s active opacity. Since you will be interacting with it, you want all elements to remain legible, so we suggest you don’t go under 50 percent. We used a value of 75 percent.

Then, return to the Leave slider and tweak it further to set the opacity you want for the panel at all times. If you don’t find yourself occasionally checking the information on this panel, even turning it fully transparent won’t make a difference in usability. We prefer a value of 25 percent.

Xfce Transparent Panels Terminal Opacity Leave Value

Your top panel is ready! Repeat the same steps for the bottom panel, setting both its active and inactive opacity to whatever values you prefer. We used the same values for both panels since we like having a more uniform look.

Xfce Transparent Panels Terminal Transparent Panels

See-Through Terminal

With our panels out of the way, let’s turn our attention to the primary tool through which most users interact with their Linux installation: the terminal. Right-click on an empty spot of your desktop and choose “Open Terminal Here” from the menu that pops up.

Xfce Transparent Panels Terminal Open Terminal Here

When your terminal’s window appears, choose “EdIt -> Preferences … “

Xfce Transparent Panels Terminal Preferences

Move to the Appearance tab and check the pull-down menu in the Background section. That’s where the transparency option is hiding.

Xfce Transparent Panels Terminal Prefs Appearance

Click on that menu and choose the Transparent background option. Your terminal will instantly turn semi-transparent.

Xfce Transparent Panels Terminal Prefs Transparent Backrgound

Your terminal’s primary purpose is enabling your interaction with your computer, not to look pretty on your desktop. Thus, make sure you can read what’s displayed in it, and if not, increase the level of opacity until you can see everything comfortably. Then, increase it some more, for good measure.

It’s better to play it safe, since your terminal probably works like ours, using colors to differentiate elements. Suppose you turn down the opacity too much while using a complex design or a photograph as a background. In that case, some of the terminal’s colors could blend with the background, rendering some text unreadable.

Xfce Transparent Panels Terminal Set Terminal Opacity

Still, specifcally for the terminal, you should check it out in action, trying out different commands. Then, depending on whether you feel comfortable with the results or whether your eyes are hurting, return to your terminal’s Appearance options and tweak the opacity slider accordingly.

If you are new to XFCE, don’t forget to check out our XFCE review and some of the best XFCE themes around.

Odysseas Kourafalos
Odysseas Kourafalos

OK's real life started at around 10, when he got his first computer - a Commodore 128. Since then, he's been melting keycaps by typing 24/7, trying to spread The Word Of Tech to anyone interested enough to listen. Or, rather, read.

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