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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 https://together.jolla.com/question/11050/ambience-something-for-esoterics/) …

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: https://together.jolla.com/question/16206/together-mark-comment-edits-as-minor-by-default/

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

jgr gravatar image

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: http://www.jollausers.com/2013/12/how-to-make-ambiance-wallpapers-for-sailfish-bonus/.

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 (https://together.jolla.com/question/66454/what-to-do-since-yesterday-jolla-reboots-immediately-when-connecting-to-cellphone-network/?answer=66485#post-id-66485). 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 2014-01-18 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 http://reviewjolla.blogspot.fi/2013/12/jolla-howto-make-your-own-ambience-with.html

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 14:43:05 +0300

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updated 2014-01-20 19:56:16 +0300

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TOH and Ambiences

When clasping a TOH to the handset, it is recognized and its NFC chip queried (as long as the NFC service deamon has not been disabled to save battery as work-around for the current NFC bug [date of writing: 2014-01-18; see https://together.jolla.com/question/597/fix-power-consumption-other-half/]). If the TOH is new to the handset, it queries the Jolla Store whether there are any files associated to the TOH and available for download. If so, the files are downloaded and the TOH is permanently assigned to that handset (probably via the handset’s IMEI). To do so, IMEI and TOH ID are stored permanently at the Jolla store.

Thereafter the files of that TOH cannot be downloaded by any other handset. If you want to pass on the TOH to another handset (including all its features), you have to (according to https://together.jolla.com/question/10857/toh-problem-with-store-this-the-other-half-is-not-working/?answer=16581#post-id-16581):

  1. Remove the TOH from the handset A.
  2. Do a factory reset on handset A. (You probably have to make sure that it has Internet access when rebooting.)
  3. Clasp the TOH to handset B.
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TOH's are no more permanently assigned to individual handsets. There is no need to run the factory reset. Simply swap the TOH's as you wish. The TOH you attached will present the download dialog if necessary.

jovirkku ( 2014-11-06 12:44:49 +0300 )edit

answered 2014-01-18 14:43:23 +0300

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updated 2014-01-20 19:56:47 +0300

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Switching between Ambiences

When you have different Ambiences activated, you can switch between them. This for example allows you different handset settings for leisure time, work and night. To switch to another Ambience:

  1. Make sure, the handset is not locked.
  2. Go to Lock or Home screen. (Lock screen: The one which appears after you awake your phone; Home screen: The one showing you the apps currently running.)
  3. Swipe left or right (swipe: Start swiping from the edges outside the screen).
  4. Tap the image of the Ambience you want to be the current one.
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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 2014-01-18 14:44:04 +0300

this post is marked as community wiki

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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 https://together.jolla.com/question/17275/number-of-favorites-ambiances/).
  • 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 2014-01-18 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

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 https://together.jolla.com/question/397/screenborder-swipe#9299 by Jaakko Roppola, the Jolla chief designer.)

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answered 2014-01-20 01:35:59 +0300

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updated 2014-01-20 01:37:47 +0300

I downloaded the template from here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/0kn1yo2qtwuavb4/digital_nature_remake_2.jpg

and edited it with a photo editor. That way I got me an old style wallpaper

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@human19: By the way: I do not see this as an answer, rather a comment -- in particular since you just followed one of the links already given to find the template.

jgr ( 2014-01-24 12:49:31 +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 https://sailfishos.org/sailfish-silica/qml-sailfishsilica-theme.html#primaryColor-prop.


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@CsTom: Great, you spotted this. Just as a note: According to information on https://together.jolla.com/question/11949/black-and-white-ambiences/#12163, 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): https://together.jolla.com/question/11949/black-and-white-ambiences/?answer=12163#post-id-12163. 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
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Asked: 2014-01-18 14:40:25 +0300

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Last updated: Dec 30 '14