I am left-handed and recently started using the touchscreen on my laptop more. There is even a bluetooth connected stylus available for it that works quite well for painting with applications like MyPaint or Gimp.

However, whenever there is a dialog or window that has a scrollbar, it is annoying for a left-handed person to use the vertical scrollbar, which is usually located on the right side of windows.

For instance in MyPaint, the brush selection dialog is quite hard to use with a stylus held in the left hand. Also the layers dialog in gimp and so on.

Is there a way to tell Ubuntu/Gnome that I want all vertical scrollbars to appear on the left side in general (as in "not per application")? Or at least for all GTK-based applications?

As a left-handed person I feel discriminated.


It seems that left-handed touchscreen users are a minority out there, probably touchscreen users in general. Maybe I was naive to assume there would be simply some switch to flip. All answers so far are informative and helpful, yet not quite answering the question. I'll let the engine decide about the bounty.

3 Answers 3


The option mentioned by other answers is deprecated in version 3.10.

GtkSettings:gtk-scrolled-window-placement has been deprecated since version 3.10 and should not be used in newly-written code.

This setting is ignored.

Source: Gnome - GtkSettings

AFAIK, It is difficult to get all apps with scroll to the left. Even if the source of GTK3 libraries is modified to get it, It will affect only apps which uses gtk-scrolled-window. Not apps which compose their own window using scroll component.


There are references on moving the vertical scroll bar to the left in Gnome Terminal and LibreOffice but I haven't found the exact methods yet. If you use Firefox extensively, moving the scroll bar to the left will help enormously:

You need to change your settings in about:config. Here's what to do:

  1. Enter about:config into the address bar (if it gives a warning about your warranty, click the button to say you'll be careful)
  2. Enter layout.scrollbar.side into the search box at the top of the page
  3. Double-click the result and replace the current value with a 3 when the prompt comes up
  4. Click OK and then restart Firefox.


So far no luck finding left-handed details for MyPaint or Gimp. However there is a left-handed mouse Q&A that might be helpful: How to set left-handed mouse pointer?

Left hand scrollbar in general

There is a discussion in Stack Exchange User Experience that will interest you. It addresses moving scrollbar to left side not just for RTL (Right To Left) languages (Arabic and Hebrew), nor just for left handed users, but for LTR users that like to hover mouse pointer to left side whilst reading paragraphs. For all these cases a scrollbar on the left side makes sense.

Perhaps between this Q&A and posting an answer on the above link, you can persuade GTK (GIMP & GNOME) developers to resurrect the left side scrollbar.

  • As a side note: I use vivaldi due to firefox lacking any useful touchscreen support Apr 22, 2018 at 0:48
  • @SebastianStark I looked briefly at vivaldi (cool website) but didn't find anything on left scrollbar. I did update the answer with a Stack Exchange User Design Q&A requesting left side scrollbar that might interest you. Apr 22, 2018 at 1:53
  • Read a bit through that "user experience" link. I feel they are more discussing about how and when to do things with left or right hand. It's a design decision and as such questionable. I think we should simply support both, so users can choose. Apr 23, 2018 at 5:33
  • @SebastianStark I agree 100%. It takes the same amount of space whether it's on the left or right side. It should be simple function to swap it from side to side. Apr 23, 2018 at 10:02

GTK-based apps

You can do that with a config file in your home, namely gtkrc :

Use your favourite editor

nano ~/.gtkrc

enter the following

gtk-scrolled-window-placement = top-right

To make sure every gtk app is using the file, I've created symlinks

ln -s ~/.gtkrc ~/.gtkrc-2.0
ln -s ~/.gtkrc ~/.gtkrc-3.0

The next time you open a GTK app, the scrollbar should have moved to the left

Source and further Documentation:

  • Doesn't seem to be working with GIMP - maybe someone else has an idea ? Apr 18, 2018 at 8:21
  • It works for the brushes dialog in gimp, but not for the main windows. It does not work in mypaint at all. Also not in nautilus and epiphany. Apr 18, 2018 at 16:11
  • It might be that this is hardcoded in GIMP. It brings its own gtkrc files, but seems to ignore (or override?) the gtk-scrolled-window-placement = top-right line. I'm sorry about that... If no one here is able to help, you might consider opening a bug with GIMP and/or Ubuntu, since this is not expected behaviour. Apr 18, 2018 at 16:24
  • These things are where linux could shine, but it doesn't :( Thanks for all your efforts. (also @Ratler) Apr 18, 2018 at 16:29

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