Enable Flags for MATE Keyboard Layout Indicator

XFCE4 Xkb Plugin Custom US Flag Icon

As you might know, MATE is a fork of Gnome 2 with a traditional Desktop interface like a taskbar, system tray and apps menu. MATE is developed along with Linux Mint, which is one of the most popular Linux distros these days. In this article, I would like to show you how to enable and set custom flags for the keyboard layout indicator in MATE.

In MATE, when you have more than one keyboard layout,  a special indicator appears in the panel (Taskbar) which shows the current keyboard layout. By default, it shows two letters to indicate the layout, for example, en - for English, or ru for Russian. Here is how it looks in Linux Mint 18.2:

Another useful feature of the indicator is the ability to maintain the keyboard layout per app window or globally for all running apps.

On of the lesser known options of the keyboard indicator in MATE is the ability to show flags instead of letters to indicate the current layout. This option is quite hidden and needs to be enabled with dconf. The easiest way to edit dcong options is dconf-editor, an app whose UI reminds of regedit.exe in Windows.

Note: In my Linux Mint, dconf-editor hasn't been installed. I had to install it manually. Here is how it can be done.

  1. Open Root Terminal.
  2. Type
    # apt-get install dconf-editor


To enable flags for MATE Keyboard Layout Indicator, you need to do the following.

  1. Grab a nice set of flags in the PNG format. For example, I will use these:
  2. With your favorite file manager, create the following directory structure:
    /home/your user name/.icons/flags

    You can save your time by opening a new terminal instance and typing the following command:

    mkdir -p ~/.icons/flags/

    This will create all the required directories at once.

  3. Name your PNG files using the naming scheme used by the indicator. For example, you have to save your USA flag as us.png and your Russian flag as ru.png.
  4. Now, press the Alt + F2 keys together to open the "Run Application" dialog and type dconf-editor in the text box. Hit Enter to execute the app.
  5. In dconf-editor, expand the tree on the left to

  6. In the right pane, enable the option 'show-flags'.

Voila, you just applied custom flag images to the Keyboard Indicator of MATE. The change will take effect instantly.

THat's it.

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Author: Sergey Tkachenko

Sergey Tkachenko is a software developer who started Winaero back in 2011. On this blog, Sergey is writing about everything connected to Microsoft, Windows and popular software. Follow him on Telegram, Twitter, and YouTube.

6 thoughts on “Enable Flags for MATE Keyboard Layout Indicator”

  1. That’s so nice, it’s just too bad I don’t require two keyboards so presumably I won’t have any indicator.

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