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HowTo: Ambiences

asked 2014-01-18 14:40:25 +0300

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updated 2014-12-28 17:35:04 +0300

rdmo gravatar image

… to give everyone a chance to become a member of the Holy Orders (see …

How to create and configure Ambiences

Although I still believe, that the concept of creating and configuring Ambiences needs an extensive rework, I want to share my knowledge about it in this How-to. Correct me, where I am wrong; add, where I have missed something. For better overview, I will subdivide this into several answers.

Recommended reading sequence

It is intended to be read in the following sequence (unfortunately, the sequence of the answers changes dynamically):

Add ons

Note, this HowTo runs over multiple web pages. Observe the "next"/"previous" buttons.

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please convert to wiki

chemist ( 2014-01-18 14:59:23 +0300 )edit

Yes I agree, this is definately a WiKi and not question where correct answer is sought for (they all are). Also, when editing this Question and Answers please use the 'minor edit' check-box to not create lot of traffic to ppls inboxes. Thanks.

foss4ever ( 2014-01-18 22:39:13 +0300 )edit

@chemist, @jjaone, @Sailor: I do not agree that this should be converted to a wiki (and I am very much disappointed that you did convert it).

First: it is an implicit request to Jolla to include the information in the official user documentation -- not all sailors are a member and/or search this forum and can read English.

Second, and probably more important: If you down swipe (from upper edge) the karma system, I do not mind whether this is a community wiki. But as long as the karma system is there, good HowTos as questions are one option for sailors to get the required karma points -- in particularly since it is much more difficult now to gather the karma points than it was in the beginning of this forum (most questions are closed quickly because they are duplicates [most real questions have been asked already], to find new bugs is difficult [most of the more obvious ones have been found] etc. pp.). For you (and me), karma does not matter any longer (we have jumped the 500 points barrier quite some time ago), but 3/4 of the members of this forum are not yet even allowed to edit community wikis (and their number will rise)! By converting this wiki (and possibly similar ones) you created a leading case -- and this I wanted to avoid.

Please note: Community wikis do not earn karma points for the author. A good HowTo may take hours to create (it did me, creating this one). It is not sensible to simply swipe away the rewards, the author may get for his/her work!

PS: I tried to use "minor edits" but may have forgotten this occasionally. Vote:

jgr ( 2014-01-19 13:11:03 +0300 )edit

@jgr I didn't convert this to Wiki, but considering it's a how-to type of article it fits well to be a community page to which everyone can easily contribute. Along the same notion I just changed one of my questions to wiki (where the question description now is essentially just an index to answers that provide the content, like in yours). But, I think in these cases it is ok to leave the Answes as normal and just make the "heading" as wiki. This way votes for Answers still influence karma (like in this question you should still get karma from votes to your Answers).
See a similar example here: How-to name Jolla UX elements

foss4ever ( 2014-01-20 12:23:22 +0300 )edit

@jgr Could you please use the "minor edit" check-box when editing the Answers, thanks ;)

foss4ever ( 2014-01-21 16:44:32 +0300 )edit

13 Answers

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answered 2014-01-18 14:42:06 +0300

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updated 2014-03-18 13:13:42 +0300

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Requirements on your own Ambience image

When used as Ambience image, your image is (virtually) cropped to a size of 540 x 1600 pixels. That image is divided into several sections, from top to bottom:

  • Pulley menu (540 x 116 pixels)
  • Lock screen (540 x 960 pixels)
  • Home screen (540 x 262 pixels)
  • Launcher screen (540 x 262 pixels)

For details see:

While the lock screen area of the image will remain almost untouched when used as Ambience background, the other sections get a certain gray/brown level added or subtracted. Particularly for rather light tones (e.g. yellow), this results in a color appearing rather dull, see the samples below. So make sure that the colors can tolerate an additional gray/brown level.

Note! The samples below are of Sailfish OS They do not apply to OS, with this update, the color adaption has changed. If you want me to add a corresponding overview for OS, you have to upvote this to at least 100 votes (so that I see, it is of sufficient interest to do the hard work). (This is a wiki, so I do not earn karma on your upvotes. In addition, anyone else may do the job.)

Color distortions by Ambience, Sailfish OS

If your image does not match the required size, it is automatically cropped – virtually, i.e. the original image is left untouched when being made to an Ambience background image.

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@jgr maybe is a stupid question. if currently the last os version is. would not be more judicious to make this analyse for the last version too? At last should be the most part of jolla-phone user on it. i think....

cemoi71 ( 2015-02-11 13:13:14 +0300 )edit

Is it possible to change the transparency (alpha channel) of the launcher?

cemoi71 ( 2015-02-11 13:25:52 +0300 )edit

@cemoi71: I have left the boat ( However, all my questions and answers are wikis, so you are free to amend/extend them.

By the way, the interest in this work is not that big: Just 15 votes.

jgr ( 2015-02-12 00:48:09 +0300 )edit

@jgr just 15 votes in one day. that's anyway more that i have already done in more than a week... ;-)

cemoi71 ( 2015-02-12 01:11:20 +0300 )edit

Within a day? Within a year!

jgr ( 2015-02-12 01:55:59 +0300 )edit

answered 2014-01-21 15:55:22 +0300

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updated 2014-04-10 00:48:42 +0300

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Manually tweak Ambience colors (originally by @thp in Answer)

You can query the current active theme colors with:

gconftool-2 -R /desktop/jolla/theme/color

You can then for example set the primary highlight color to white:

gconftool-2 -s /desktop/jolla/theme/color/highlight -t string '#ffffff'

As well as set for example the secondary highlight color to some grey:

gconftool-2 -s /desktop/jolla/theme/color/secondaryHighlight -t string '#aaaaaa'

A list of the theme variables is given on


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@CsTom: Great, you spotted this. Just as a note: According to information on, this change will not be persistent. When switching to another Ambience, colors set this way are lost.

jgr ( 2014-01-21 16:35:04 +0300 )edit

Could any reader provide a batch file template / procedure / app for:

  • Specifying the theme variables. (variable content should be user changeable, even it may be hard coded, i.e. just a text/program file, the user has to write into).
  • Allowing this batch file / app / etc. to place on the launch screen, so I can easily launch this to set the theme the way I would like to have it?
jgr ( 2014-02-07 23:00:48 +0300 )edit

How to do this now that Gconf is not here anymore?

mariano ( 2014-06-26 17:48:38 +0300 )edit

Don't know. Ask your question underneath the original post (as stated in the heading): If you have an answer, you are welcome to extend this answer accordingly (please leave the original information for reference).

jgr ( 2014-06-26 18:34:00 +0300 )edit

have a look at @rainisto's answer and the following comments.

You can dump all keys with:

dconf dump /
axaq ( 2014-12-30 03:45:10 +0300 )edit

answered 2014-01-18 14:42:26 +0300

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updated 2014-01-30 00:30:28 +0300

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Creating an Ambience from your own image

You can convert your own images to an ambience. Due to the format of your phone it is best done with a portrait image of the size 540 x 1600 pixels (see Requirements on your own Ambience image).

For additional information when you want to make a black/white (grayscale) image an Ambience background image, see

To make your own image an Ambience background image:

  1. Make sure, the image is located somewhere in directory /home/nemo/Pictures/. (Camera pictures are saved automatically in that directory. On a Windows PC with USB connection to the handset this directory is shown as “Computer\Sailfish\Phone Memory\Pictures”; observe the upper case “P” – you are talking Linux where case matters.)
  2. Open “Gallery”.
  3. Tap [Photos]. (The image overview is shown.)
  4. Tap the image you want as Ambience background image. (This image appears full screen.)
  5. Tap the image. (The image reduces to half the screen size making space for sharing options.)
  6. If available from the pulley menu (not available for .png files): Select "Edit". (The buttons [Rotate] and [Crop] appear.) Continue as required:
  • Rotate the image: Tap |- [Rotate] | [Rotate right] or [Rotate left] | [Accept] -|. (A rotated copy of the image is created. The rotated image is displayed with still the [Rotate] and [Crop] options being offered.)
  • Crop the image:
    • Tap [Crop]. (The image appears full screen again, with a certain area being highlighted, under which you can move the image.)
    • Tap the image. (Again, the image reduces to half the screen size making space for cropping options.)
    • Tap [Ambience]. (The highlighted area covers the size of an Ambient image, 540 x 1600 pixels.)
    • Move the image such, that the part you want as Ambience background appears within the highlighted area.
    • Tap the image.
    • Tap [Accept]. (A cropped copy of the image is created.)
  • Go back to the Photos overview, e.g by tapping the dots in the upper left corner).
  • Tap the image you just rotated/cropped. (This image appears full screen.)
  • Tap the image. (The sharing options are offered again.)
  1. From the pulley menu select “Create ambience”. (This image is converted to an Ambience image.)
  2. Go back to the Gallery start screen (e.g. by tapping the dots in the upper left corner).
  3. Continue with step 2 of Activation of Ambiences.
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After you have tapped the image to bring out the sharing options, there is also the option "Edit" in the pulley menu (doesn't work with .png at the time of writing) where you can crop the image for better positioning.

typo ( 2014-01-18 21:59:10 +0300 )edit

answered 2014-01-18 14:47:45 +0300

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updated 2014-03-18 16:39:01 +0300

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What Ambiences are

Ambiences are a means allowing you to switch quickly between different sets of settings. As of the moment these settings include:

  • Background image/color
  • Volume of notification sounds (e.g. ring tone, alarm clock’s alarm etc.)
  • Tunes allocated to certain types of notifications

The settings of the active Ambience overwrite the current default settings system-wide, i.e. the current ring-tone for example is defined by the active Ambience, not by the settings in |- Settings | System -|.

(Further settings to be included in Ambiences will come up with future Sailfish releases. For the future of Ambiences see by Jaakko Roppola, the Jolla chief designer.)

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answered 2014-01-18 14:43:42 +0300

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updated 2014-03-22 12:04:51 +0300

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Changing the settings of an Ambience

  1. Open “Gallery”.
  2. Tap “Ambience”.
  3. Tap the image of the Ambience you want to change.
  4. Change any of the settings.
  5. If you want to and if it is not a built-in or TOH Ambience image: Give the Ambience a name – tap field “Enter name”. (Built-in and TOH Ambience images have a pre-set name you cannot change.)
  6. Tap [Save]. (==> The Ambience can be selected from the Lock or Home screen, see Switching between Ambiences.)

A note on ringtones

  • If you want to select a ringtone from your own music files, you get a probably long list of music files in your user home directory (i.e. /home/nemo). If you do not find the file you look for, make sure the mp3 tags Artist and Album title are set: This list does not show file names but mp3 tag contents only (of course, Title can also be set). Files with empty tags are not listed.
  • It is recommended to give the ringtone files a Title that is easily recognized, e.g. all beginning with "Ringtone ..."
  • Music files shorter than 1 s do not work as ringtones.
  • If you want to make your ringtone files available from the list of ringtones (i.e. not via "Select from music file"), you have to copy your ringtone files to /usr/share/sounds/jolla-ringtones/stereo, see How to copy music files to the system ringtone directory.

For further reading see the discussions on Ringtones in

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You can change the name of built in Ambiences now (

skanky ( 2015-02-08 23:48:28 +0300 )edit

answered 2014-02-13 16:04:49 +0300

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updated 2014-02-13 16:34:25 +0300

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Silence down the Jolla handset completely (theater mode)

If you want to get a completely silenced Jolla, you have to:

  • Activate a self-created Ambience (from a picture of your own) with all notification sounds set to "No sound" and volume slider minimized (call it e.g. "Silencio Ambience").
  • Select "Silence sounds" from lock screen pulley menu.


Current situation (Sailfish, as far as it could be worked out):

  • Switching off all notification sounds using the option "No sound" and setting the Ambience volume slider to minimum does not switch off all system sounds (e.g. pulley menu, Camera shutter, possibly low battery warning etc.).
  • Selecting "Silence sounds" from the pulley menu switches off all notifications and system sounds but does not silence the clock alarm.


Until confirmed by Jolla, we cannot be sure that there will not be any sound left that still can go off, even you have the settings as above.

This problem has been turned out after a lengthy discussion on

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is this confirmed yet? in addition to the above steps, I do - Set the volume to minimum using the hardware key, - Stop android services, and - Set vibration to 'Never' from settings>system>sounds

So can all this be somehow done in a single step?

User ( 2015-08-01 23:46:12 +0300 )edit

answered 2014-01-18 14:44:04 +0300

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updated 2014-01-30 00:48:14 +0300

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Activation of Ambiences

Typically, an Ambience must be activated by the user in order to be available. (An Ambience allocated to a TOH may be activated automatically directly after download from Jolla Store.) Several Ambience background images are available ex factory. Additional images you may create yourself, see Creating an Ambience from your own image.

To activate an Ambience (background image already available):

  1. Open “Gallery”.
  2. Tap “Ambience”.
  3. Tap the image you want as background image.
  4. Tap the star icon. (==> The settings available with that image appear.)
  5. Set any of the settings.
  6. Tap [Save]. (==> The Ambience can be selected from the Lock or Home screen, see Switching between Ambiences.)
  7. If you want this Ambience your current Ambience: From the pulley menu select “Set ambience”.

NOTE: “Remove ambience” in the pulley menu removes the whole image, not just the settings of the Ambience!


  • The Ambience’s volume slider scales the general volume slider available on the first general Settings page (i.e. the actual volume setting is the product of the multiplication of both slider values).
  • All other settings overwrite the settings specified on the general Settings pages.
  • There seems to be a total of 18 Ambiences you can have activated at the same time (see
  • When changing sounds take care of the "No sound" option: If highlighted, there will be no sound, even there may be noted a "Current ... tone" sound clip. See figure below.

"No sound" option

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answered 2014-03-20 23:45:48 +0300

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updated 2014-03-20 23:56:36 +0300

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How to copy music files to the system ringtone directory

If you want a sound file (mp3) of your own to appear in the ringtone list of Sailfish OS (system settings and Ambience), you have to copy that file to the system ringtone directory. The file does not have to have mp3 tags set. (Alternatively you can choose a ringtone from your music files, see the notes in answer Changing the settings of an Ambience.)


  1. Make sure, the sound file (e.g. jolla-ringtone-rev.mp3) is already on your Jolla, e.g. because you downloaded it, received it via e-mail or by copying it via USB from your PC to the Jolla handset (from a Windows PC e.g. to directory "Computer\Sailfish\Phone Memory\Downloads"; downloads from internet and the attachments of an e-mail received directly on your Jolla would be stored in a subdirectory of this one).
  2. Go to |- Settings | System Settings | Developer Mode -|.
  3. Activate „Developer mode“. (Because your Jolla device can access the Jolla apps shop, a Terminal app is installed now.)
  4. Activate „Remote connection” (either enter and [Save] a password or [Generate] it; if you generate it, you have to edit it slightly before the [Save] button becomes available). (Note: You need administrator rights following, because the system sound directory is write protected otherwise.)
  5. Open the Terminal app installed during step 2.
  6. Get administrator rights (and be very cautious what you do thereafter -- when doing it wrong you may break your Jolla!): Enter devel-su.
  7. On the password request, enter your password specified during step 4. (The last character of the prompt changes from "$" to "#".)
  8. Move to the directory with the sound file, e.g. in my case (observe the uppercase "D", you are talking Linux where upper/lower case matters; note that what you see on your PC starts below /home/nemo/): cd /home/nemo/Downloads/mail_attachments/80-2
  9. Make sure, you are in the right directory, get a directory listing: dir
  10. Copy the sound file: cp jolla-ringtone-rev.mp3 /usr/share/sounds/jolla-ringtones/stereo/
  11. Check that the file arrived at destination: dir /usr/share/sounds/jolla-ringtones/stereo/
  12. Exit administrator mode: exit.

    image description

  13. Exit Terminal: exit.
  14. Go to |- Settings | System Settings | Developer Mode -| and deactivate "Remote connection".
    You need remote connections activated to get administrator rights. But you should not leave open remote access to your Jolla handset unnecessarily. Therefore deactivate this always when done.

This procedure was first published as comment to Jolla sounds not well-engineered as notification sounds. Unfortunately, comments are not easily linkable, hence the republishing here.

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I am a rookie one ;) How about when i want to delete ringtone from /usr/share/sounds/jolla-ringtones/stereo/? Should it be like: delete jolla-ringtone-rev.mp3 /usr/share/sounds/jolla-ringtones/stereo/ ?

Teneo ( 2014-03-22 18:29:31 +0300 )edit

@Teneo - to delete/remove a file you would use the rm command (rm=remove);, so it would look like this;

rm jolla-ringtone-rev.mp3

but sometimes the files are protected by the system, you may need to add -rf (-rf=remove by force)

rm -rf jolla-ringtone-rev.mp3
Edz ( 2014-03-25 15:58:55 +0300 )edit

@Teneo: You mix up the structure of the copy with the delete command.

  • Copy: cp source-file destination(-file or -directory)
    Source-file and destination-file have to include the path, if the corresponding directory is not your current one, i.e. /usr/share/sounds/jolla-ringtones/stereo/jolla-ringtone-rev.mp3 or /usr/share/sounds/jolla-ringtones/stereo/ or . (. = current directory)
  • Delete: rm file-name
    File-name has to include the path, if the corresponding directory is not your current one, i.e. /usr/share/sounds/jolla-ringtones/stereo/jolla-ringtone-rev.mp3

I suggest that you for a linux command reference on the internet.

jgr ( 2014-03-25 16:17:44 +0300 )edit

This is also working with OGG and WAV files.

TellienInTouch ( 2014-04-01 13:28:45 +0300 )edit

What is the maximum duration for ringtone and notification sound?

DarkWhite ( 2014-11-05 21:20:12 +0300 )edit

answered 2014-12-30 16:10:46 +0300

EanderAlx gravatar image

updated 2014-12-30 16:11:25 +0300

Under /usr/share/ambience/ you find the orginal jolla ambience.

I've simply copied one folder, renamed and edited the .ambience file and replaced the wallpaper. After reboot the ambience is available. So you have all in one colors, sounds, wallpaper.

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answered 2014-01-18 14:44:35 +0300

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updated 2014-01-20 19:55:52 +0300

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Types of Ambiences

There are 3 types of Ambiences:

  • Built-in ex factory
  • User created
  • Assigned to a specific The Other Half (i.e. to something like a TOH serial number) and available only after download from Jolla Store

Only user created Ambiences give the user full control over all available settings. Built-in Ambiences for example are limited to adjusting the volume of the notification sounds.

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Just to clarify, you can also edit the sounds used in built-in Ambiences (

skanky ( 2015-02-08 23:49:40 +0300 )edit
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Asked: 2014-01-18 14:40:25 +0300

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Last updated: Dec 30 '14