This page give an introduction how to use the gsettings command line tool.


Dconf is the backend for GSettings and is used to store the MATE desktop settings as of version 1.6. It stores for example what background image is set as wallpaper.


Dconf editor is the replacement of mateconf editor. It looks and behaves much the same as mateconf editor. Below are 2 images for comparison.

mateconf-editor (old)dconf-editor (new)

Retrieving data from GSettings/dconf

Before we give examples we need to explain that mate and other applications using GSettings/dconf install a schema. A schema basically is a list of the available settings for that application. There are two types of schemas, standard and relocatable schemas. Important to understand that for relocatable schemas we need to provide a path on top of the normal schema name like org.mate.panel.object.

A big confusion with relocatable schemas is that only changed keys show up in dconf and dconf-editor.

In the explanation below I will be using org.mate.background for a standard schema and org.mate.panel.object:/org/mate/panel/objects/object_0/ relocatbale schema to show how to use gsettings. For the relocatable schema object_0 represents the menu bar and in the example we will set a custom icon for it.

To list all the installed schemas run gsettings list-schemas:

$ gsettings list-schemas

Now that we have a list of the schemas we can look at what keys they provide. Keys are the actual settings we manipulate. We list them with gsettings list-keys <schema name>.

standard schemas

$ gsettings list-keys org.mate.background

We know now what settings (keys) are available in org.mate.background. As the name key may already suggest keys also have values. We can list the value of the keys by running gsettings get <schema> <key>.

$ gsettings get org.mate.background picture-filename

The above described method applies for all installed schemas and not just to the ones installed by mate.

You can also list both the keys and their values by running gsettings list-recursively <schema>. Do notice that only 3 types of values are shown below but it can hold many types. It shows

Value typeexamples
string values'vertical-gradient','zoom'
boolean values true,false (only 2 allowed values)
number values 1,2,100
$ gsettings list-recursively org.mate.background
org.mate.background background-fade true
org.mate.background color-shading-type 'vertical-gradient'
org.mate.background draw-background true
org.mate.background picture-filename '/usr/share/backgrounds/mate/abstract/Spring.png'
org.mate.background picture-opacity 100
org.mate.background picture-options 'zoom'
org.mate.background primary-color '#58589191bcbc'
org.mate.background secondary-color '#3c3c8f8f2525'
org.mate.background show-desktop-icons true

relocatable schemas

As mentioned before relocatable schemas need an aditional path before we can list and manipulate the keys. Other than the path we treat the the two types of schemas the same way from the command line.

$ gsettings list-recursively org.mate.panel.object:/org/mate/panel/objects/object_0/
org.mate.panel.object action-type 'none'
org.mate.panel.object applet-iid 'GNOMEMainMenuFactory::GNOMEMainMenu'
org.mate.panel.object attached-toplevel-id ''
org.mate.panel.object custom-icon ''
org.mate.panel.object has-arrow true
org.mate.panel.object launcher-location ''
org.mate.panel.object locked false
org.mate.panel.object menu-path 'applications:/'
org.mate.panel.object object-type 'applet'
org.mate.panel.object panel-right-stick false
org.mate.panel.object position 728
org.mate.panel.object tooltip ''
org.mate.panel.object toplevel-id 'top'
org.mate.panel.object use-custom-icon false
org.mate.panel.object use-menu-path false

Notice that we added a colon followed by the path.

Setting key values

We do this with gsettings set <schema> <key> <new value>. So let's try and set a new background wallpaper.

$ gsettings set org.mate.background picture-filename '/usr/share/backgrounds/mate/abstract/Spring.png'
$ gsettings set org.mate.background picture-filename '/usr/share/backgrounds/mate/desktop/GreenTraditional.jpg'

If everything went well these commands will not return anything. If you do get output it is likely to be an error. When running these 2 commands you should notice the desktop background picture changed.

Now let's toggle the compositing manager in Marco on and off.

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

And an example of a relocatable schema,

$ gsettings set org.mate.panel.object:/org/mate/panel/objects/object_0/ use-custom-icon true
$ gsettings set org.mate.panel.object:/org/mate/panel/objects/object_0/ custom-icon '/path/to/image'

Reset key values

Each key in a schema also has a default value. If we have changed the key value for one reaeon or another and want to revert it to the default we use gsettings reset <schema> <key>. If we want to reset all the keys in the schema we can use gsettings reset-recursively <schema>.

Now let's reset the background image to the default value.

$ gsettings reset org.mate.background picture-filename

And the same for the compositing manager in Marco.

$ gsettings reset org.mate.Marco.general compositing-manager
docs/gsettings.txt · Last modified: 2014/12/30 12:27 by infirit
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