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I'm working with many GIS applications under Gnome. It sometimes is very convenient to place one map over another to quickly spot differences.

There used to be a KDE trick to make any window (not just a terminal!) transparent, thereby allowing me to make one map semi-transparent and place it on the window of the other mapping software. Is there a similar trick for Gnome?

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

I am not sure about Gnomw itself, but in Compiz, there is a plugin called "Opacity, Brightness and Saturation adjustments", which allows you control transparency of windows any way I can imagine, including Alt + {sroll} as Andrea Lazzarotto said.

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+1, acc for pointing out the plugin name. – Adam Matan Aug 5 '10 at 12:48
Also, make sure you enable Animations, found under Effects. – earthmeLon Jun 28 '11 at 2:41

Hold down the Alt key and then scroll with your mouse wheel.

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For newer versions of Gnome (Gnome 3/Gnome Shell), you can use this extension to make windows transparent:

EDIT: To install in Gnome 3.14+

Gnome extensions have a file containing which version of Gnome they are compatible with - this is not always correct as the extension may work for other versions not specified in the file, so you need to get the extension from outside the gnome extension site, and modify the file and install it manually - this works a lot of the time with other extensions.

  1. Go the the extension page, and download the extension zip file.
  2. Extract it, and modify the shell-version line in the /transparentwindows-master/transparentwindows@ellen/metadata.json file to make sure it includes your shell version (e.g. 3.14):

     "shell-version": ["3.10", "3.12", "3.14"], 

    You can find your shell version if needed using gnome-shell --version

  3. Move the extracted files to ~/.local/share/gnome-shell/extensions, so it looks like this: /home/wilf/.local/share/gnome-shell/extensions/transparentwindows@ellen
  4. The extension should now work, though you may need to restart the shell with Alt+F2+r+Enter, and enable it in Gnome Tweak Tool or similar.

Also note that you can do a issue/bug report to the developer to ask for the extension the Gnome Extension site to be updated - in this case there is one here. You can also make your own commit to the extension to include 3.14+ versions.

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this extension, does not work with GNOME 3.14 and LATER versions ... do you know extension compatible with current version ? – Jiří Doubravský May 24 '15 at 16:20
@Jiff - it does (i have used recently in 3.14), you just can't install it from the extension page. I''ll add how to install it in my answer – Wilf May 24 '15 at 21:26

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