Here's how to customize Gboard using Rboard Theme Creator and Patcher

Here’s how to customize Gboard using Rboard Theme Creator and Patcher

In the endlessly customizable world of Android, enthusiasts and modders are on a constant journey to make our devices better match our personalities. We love to tweak anything we can get our hands on, whether it’s a new wallpaper, the hottest new icon pack, or a completely custom theme. This is the reason why many users prefer Gboard as their keyboard app because you can modify the original UI using custom themes through projects like Rboard Theme Manager.

Although Google offers a plethora of out-of-the-box themes for Gboard, there is a whole community of homebrew themes and other mods for the keyboard app. However, customizing an existing theme package or creating a custom theme from scratch is not a simple task. To fill the void, two veteran Gboard themers — XDA Senior Member RKBD and XDA Member DerTyp7214 — have come up with a pair of apps: Rboard Theme Creator and Rboard Patcher.

  • Rboard Theme Creator lets you create rudimentary Gboard themes.
  • By using Rboard Patcher, you can further edit different aspects of themes.
  • Custom themes can be applied through Rboard Theme Manager.

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Internal structure of a Gboard theme

In the Gboard theme scene, a theme pack can be identified by its “.pack” extension. Essentially, the file is a collection of image assets, stylesheets, and metadata, all compressed into a special container format.

Inside a Gboard theme pack

Since most theme components are unencrypted, one can also write additional patches to mod specific parts of a theme on the fly. Patches are usually distributed as ZIP files.

How to Create a Gboard Theme Using Rboard Theme Creator

Rboard Theme Creator is a lightweight Android app that lets anyone create a basic Gboard theme right on their phone. You don’t even need access to a PC to compile the theme pack, as the app takes care of everything for you.

To design your own Gboard theme, follow these steps:

  1. Install the app from the aforementioned Google Play Store link.
  2. Open the app and locate the rotary dial for color selection.
    Rboard Theme Creator
  3. Then select the staining scheme (e.g. Dark Where monnet) and the corresponding UI component (e.g. AMOLED Where Tertiary accent). The application allows you to try all possible combinations.
  4. Now adjust the color dials until you get the desired themed UI in the preview section.
  5. To save your custom theme, tap the Share icon in the bottom left corner, choose the file picker, and save it after giving it an appropriate name and author information.

Alternatively, you can directly transfer the newly created theme to Rboard Patcher (if installed) for further editing. To do this, press the Add a theme and follow the wizard.

For all app developers reading this, Rboard Theme Creator is completely open source. You are free to explore the code, submit new patches, or compile the application yourself.

Rboard Theme Builder GitHub Repository

Notably, the developer also hosts a web version of the app, which could be useful for designing Gboard themes from your PC/Mac.

How to patch a Gboard theme with Rboard Patcher

Rboard Patcher is a versatile tool for Gboard theming. To begin with, the app lets you customize the base theme package (*.pack) produced by the Rboard Theme Creator app. Moreover, you can also modify existing themes created by the community and change different aspects of them using the publicly hosted theme patches. The patcher has not yet supported third-party patch repositories, but the feature should be coming soon.

Here is how you can customize any Rboard compatible theme through Rboard Patcher:

  1. Install the app from the aforementioned Google Play Store link.
  2. Open the app and open a valid Gboard theme *.pack file using the file picker.
    • For example, you can point the application to a theme pack produced by Rboard Theme Creator.
  3. Rboard Patcher will fetch publicly hosted theme patches and list them categorically.
    Rboard Patcher
  4. Tap the ones you want to apply (for example, a font or a rounded icon).
  5. To save the custom theme, tap the Share icon in the lower left corner, choose the file picker and save it after giving it a suitable name and author information.

If you want to immediately prepare the custom theme for flashing via Rboard Theme Manager, you can do so by pressing the Add to Manager and follow the wizard. Of course, you must have the Rboard Theme Manager app installed on your device beforehand, otherwise the option will not work. Also, you need root access to install the themes.

Rboard Patcher is also open source, which means you can play around with the code base. If you want to try the state-of-the-art builds without compiling the app yourself, go with the continuous integration builds.

Rboard Patcher GitHub Repository


That’s all we can say about it. As you can see, creating custom themes for Gboard is not that difficult, especially when you can use the awesome tools offered by the Rboard community. The granularity you get with the Gboard theme is entirely up to you, but if you’re unhappy with Google’s offerings, the best thing to do is to build your desired theme from scratch.

Do you regularly customize your keyboard app with different mods, or are you not interested in such a theme? Let us know in the comments section below.

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