Change Okular Default Highlighter Color – for Linux Light Users

Update: Okular version 0.17 has configurable review tools.

Today I had enough of the yellow highlighter that’s default in Okular and I went about to change it. It was a bit tricky since I’m a light terminal user, and I wanted as much graphical interface as possible when dealing with changes in restricted areas of Linux.

Why do it? The yellow highlighter blends with the yellow color whenever I use CTRL+F to find a word in my research articles. It was annoying and I needed to change that.

After searching and reading, here’s the method that worked for me:

System: Ubuntu Studio 12.04 LTS

Okular: 0.14.3

Step 1: Know the color you want to switch to. You can do this in several ways:

a) Open a pdf with Okular and, using the Yellow Highlighter [4], highlight a text.

-> Right lick on the highlighted text and choose Properties.

-> Click on the actual color field next to where it says Color

-> Choose one of the colors that are available or create your own color, then copy the HTML code. In my case is #FFDCA8


b) go to a site like and choose from one of the HTML colors there.

Step 2: Switch to Root

As you may know by now, when you’re using Linux (Ubuntu), you are a user without rights to modify critical system files. This is for your own protection and makes Linux very secure. But for this task you need root access – i.e. you need access to change one of these critical files.

Open your file browser (the Home button),

-> press ALT+F2

-> type gksudo nautilus (make sure you have Run in Terminal option checked). Click Run

– – > you might need to type kdesu konqueror or gksudo thunar if you have Kubuntu (KDE) or Xubuntu (XFCE) – read more here –

-> Type your password – OK

Step 3: Find the file and change the default color setting

Once you clicked OK after inserting the password, a new file explorer window opens.

->From the left menu click on File System

-> enter usr folder

-> enter share

-> enter kde4

-> enter apps

-> enter okular

-> right click on tools.xml and open it with your default text editor (like gedit)

-> search for Yellow Highlighter. It might look like this:

<tool id=”4″ name=”Yellow Highlighter” pixmap=”tool-highlighter-okular”>

-> change the default yellow color to the chosen color:

<engine type=”TextSelector” color=”#FFDCA8“>
<annotation type=”Highlight” color=”#FFDCA8

Important: Change only what’s inside quotation marks! For example, select the default #FFFF00 that represents color yellow and change it to the color code you chose in Step 1. In my case, as seen above, the new color is #FFDCA8.

-> save the file, close all programs, restart and voilà, job done!

Explaining these steps takes way longer than actually going though them. It’s very easy, as you’ll experience after the first try. You might have to do it every once in a while an Okular update arrives, and your tools.xml file will be overwritten by the updates.

Thanks to people on this forum, the solutions came from you guys –

Hope this helps!

There are no images because that’s more of a self-imposed blog policy. Ask in the comments and I’ll do my best to describe things for you, or alt least guide you to someone who knows.


4 thoughts on “Change Okular Default Highlighter Color – for Linux Light Users

  1. Hi there just wanted to give you a quick heads up. The words in your post seem to be running off the screen in Internet explorer.
    I’m not sure if this is a format issue or something to do with browser compatibility but I thought I’d post to let you know.
    The style and design look great though! Hope you get the issue
    fixed soon. Cheers

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