To work around bug #1005495 (changing LCD brightness via hotkeys impossible), I'd like to have one command line query for increasing and one for reducing the brightness of my LCD. I could then map a hotkey to each one of this queries.

The problem is: I don't know how to increase and reduce the LCD brightness on the command line. Do you?


18 Answers 18


Open your terminal and type this

xrandr -q | grep " connected"

it will gives you the output as

LVDS1 connected 1680x1050+0+0 (normal left inverted right x axis y axis) 331mm x 207mm

There LVDS1 Stands for your display. So now you have to do as

xrandr --output LVDS1 --brightness 0.5

there 0.5 stands for brightness level and it ranges from 0.0 to 1.0 . 0.0 -> Full black .so you have to choose the required value of brightness .

This doesn't change brightness at a hardware level. From randr manual:

--brightness brightness Multiply the gamma values on the crtc currently attached to the output to specified floating value. Useful for overly bright or overly dim outputs. However, this is a software only modification, if your hardware has support to actually change the brightness, you will probably prefer to use xbacklight.

  • 2
    Thanks for you answer but what I'd need is something like xrandr --increase 10 to increase the brightness by 10 percent. Is that possible, too?
    – user69748
    Commented Dec 14, 2012 at 11:50
  • 61
    this doesn't seem to change the brightness at a hardware level
    – erjoalgo
    Commented Oct 18, 2013 at 6:29
  • 15
    Too bad this answer got so many votes. My laptop screen "emulates" darkness so to say by making things appear darker (just as when you play a video with a night scene, that has nothing to do with the screen lightness but rather with pixels masking the background light). The lightness is exactly the same, wasting even more battery than before because of the pixels than now are darker.
    – Mephisto
    Commented Nov 16, 2014 at 15:47
  • 7
    It fakes the brightness. The brightness does not change, it is rendered by software. Commented Apr 1, 2016 at 20:58
  • 2
    I can confirm that this only emulates the brightness and does not change the brightness of the display's background light. Interestingly, the brightness of the mouse pointer is not changed, leaving it much brighter than the rest of the desktop.
    – nyi
    Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 8:24

The following works for me:

echo 400 | sudo tee /sys/class/backlight/intel_backlight/brightness

I guess the maximum possible value is in the /sys/class/backlight/intel_backlight/max_brightness file.

Replace intel_backlight with an asterisk to apply to all backlights.

  • 18
    @Ray Try this: echo 400 | sudo tee /sys/class/backlight/intel_backlight/brightness.
    – Mygod
    Commented Nov 28, 2015 at 17:39
  • 11
    @Ray when you do sudo echo 400 > /sys/class . .. ./brightness redirection is done by shell , not by echo. And shell still runs as your regular user, not as sudo. That's why it gives permission denied. You need to have a utility that will write to file with root permissions, which is why tee works. Commented Mar 9, 2016 at 19:37
  • 4
    echo 400 | sudo tee /sys/class/backlight/radeon_bl0/brightness for radeon APUs and cards
    – Suici Doga
    Commented Apr 1, 2016 at 11:40
  • 14
    This is ridiculously low-level, but in fact seems to be the only thing that reliably works. It gets a bit less ugly if you sudo chmod 0646 the brightness file, so sudo isn't needed for setting brightness anymore. Commented May 24, 2016 at 21:00
  • 14
    The reason that this is set at su permissions is that a virus could conceivably make your screen dim and go bright at incredible speed ultimately damaging your hardware display. In the 90's I encountered a virus that would adjust the screen refresh Hertz so rapidly that your monitor would fry. So be careful tweaking the permissions on this.
    – RyanNerd
    Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 16:21

Note: xbacklight only works with Intel, not properly on Radeon and not at all with modesetting driver (source). It also only works on X11, not Wayland.

One more way we have to do this is with another new program named as xbacklight , open your terminal and type this

sudo apt-get install xbacklight

then type this xbacklight -set 50

there 50 stands for brightness range we can get it upto 100 from 0 .

you can also increase and decrease the brightness from present value to specified level.as you mentioned if you want to increase to 10% from current value of brightness then you can give this

xbacklight -inc 10

and to decrease 10% you can give this

xbacklight -dec 10 
  • Looks like a really simple command but what I'd need is something like xbacklight -increase 10 to increase the brightness by 10 percent. Is that possible, too?
    – user69748
    Commented Aug 24, 2012 at 9:31
  • @user69748 answer edited
    – Raja G
    Commented Aug 24, 2012 at 10:47
  • 1
    Yes you can. I've already mention that . so you can get that by xbacklight -inc 10
    – Raja G
    Commented Aug 24, 2012 at 16:53
  • 44
    That really looks simple, but unfortunatelly it doesn't work for me. Brightness simply doesn't change, not with -dec and not with -set. I guess I'll have to hope the bug gets fixed any time soon. Thanks nevertheless.
    – user69748
    Commented Sep 4, 2012 at 14:38
  • 2
    Additionally, there's a shorthand you can use: xbacklight +10; xbacklight -10; xbacklight =50;
    – Fordi
    Commented Mar 9, 2016 at 18:48

Using D-Bus with GNOME

You can increase/decrease brightness with gdbus:

# Step up
gdbus call --session --dest org.gnome.SettingsDaemon.Power --object-path /org/gnome/SettingsDaemon/Power --method org.gnome.SettingsDaemon.Power.Screen.StepUp

# Step down
gdbus call --session --dest org.gnome.SettingsDaemon.Power --object-path /org/gnome/SettingsDaemon/Power --method org.gnome.SettingsDaemon.Power.Screen.StepDown


  • 1
    +1 confirms this works great on internal LCD display. It doesn't effect external monitors already controlled with xrandr gamma and brightness scripts. Commented Apr 6, 2019 at 16:25
  • This proved to be very practical and worked well with different hardware. Thanks.
    – Dan Ortega
    Commented Dec 29, 2021 at 14:56
  • Is it somehow possible to set absolute values (like 100% brightness) using this way?
    – T-Dawg
    Commented Aug 25, 2022 at 14:18
  • nothing changed but got this output: (0, 'eDP-1')
    – laplasz
    Commented Jan 5, 2023 at 23:46
  • This did not work for me on XFCE. I ended up using kexec xfpm-power-backlight-helper --set-brightness $BRIGHTNESS instead. Commented May 28 at 1:01

For Laptops,

sudo setpci -s 00:02.0 F4.B=80

Change 80 by [0-FF] to get lowest-highest brightness. The value specified is in hex, so 80 will give you a 50% of max brightness.

For Desktops to make a gamma correction (not tested by me),

xgamma -gamma .75
  • Thanks for you answer but what I'd need is something like setpci --increase 10 to increase the brightness by 10 percent. Is that possible, too?
    – user69748
    Commented Dec 14, 2012 at 11:50
  • 1
    This was the only answer that worked for me on a Samsung NB30 Plus.
    – OSE
    Commented Oct 21, 2013 at 18:33
  • I can't seem to get this to work.. Should I change some parameters, perhaps, and if so, how do I find the appropriate values?
    – Rasmus
    Commented Oct 2, 2014 at 8:27
  • Thanks I'm on a laptop, setpci didn't work but xgamma did. Commented May 2, 2018 at 13:26
  • If you want to use a [0-255] range you can use $(echo "obase=16; ibase=10; 128" | bc) (for ~50%). The ibase=10; is optional. Commented Nov 5, 2020 at 17:56

Make this script:


cd /sys/class/backlight
MAX="$(cat "${TARGET}/max_brightness")"
# The `/1` at the end forced bc to cast the result 
# to an integer, even if $1 is a float (which it 
# should be)
LOGIC="$(echo "($1 * ${MAX})/1" | bc)"
for i in */; do
    if [[ "${TARGET}/" != "$i" && -e "${i}brightness" ]]; then
        cat "${i}max_brightness" > "${i}brightness"
echo "$LOGIC" > "${TARGET}/brightness"

Run it as root, with any value between 0 and 1.

sudo ./set-brightness.sh 0.5
  • If your system doesn't have an /sys/class/backlight/acpi_video0, there should be at least one directory in there, which may be device-specific (I also have a radeon_bl0, for example).
  • If you have others, keep in mind their values stack (hence the loop; pushing all the other values to 1.0, then setting the target one to the desired amount).
  • While acpi_video0 should always work, it doesn't always have the full range of physical brightnesses available. Try each one, and use the one with the largest gamut as your "TARGET"
  • 4
    Consider using /sys/class/backlight/*/brightness instead of trying to hard-code acpi_video0 into the script. It will allow for generalizing the path to file, which can be different - i for example have intel_backlight, not acpi_video0. That's what I've used in my script here Commented Mar 9, 2016 at 19:41

KDE 4.12:

qdbus org.kde.Solid.PowerManagement /org/kde/Solid/PowerManagement/Actions/BrightnessControl setBrightness 55

KDE Plasma Version: 5.14.3:

The above code is still valid. It will only work if you are a KDE user. However in that case it will require no additional piece of software. It will have the exact same behavior as when using the "battery and brightness" widget. AFAIK it changes the physical backlight, in contrast with xrandr which does does not.

Beware that the 55 above is not a fraction of 100, the latter being the max brightness. Instead it is related to max_brightness:

qdbus org.kde.Solid.PowerManagement /org/kde/Solid/PowerManagement/Actions/BrightnessControl brightnessMax

There is also a "silent" version that you might prefer in a script:

qdbus org.kde.Solid.PowerManagement /org/kde/Solid/PowerManagement/Actions/BrightnessControl setBrightnessSilent 2000

Refs: qdbus, solid, brightness

  • can you explain what It will do ?
    – Raja G
    Commented Apr 8, 2014 at 18:27

Try this in terminal:

xrandr --output LVDS1 --brightness 0.9

You can change the last value as you like, eg. 0.2

  • 4
    1) Output is not always LVDS1, but user can find out with xrandr --verbose 2) Doesn't change backlight intensity
    – erjoalgo
    Commented Oct 18, 2013 at 6:31

Here's a short line that can help you relax your eyes. Just create a crontaab with the line or make a script

xrandr --output VGA1 --brightness 0.5; sleep 20; xrandr --output VGA1 --brightness 1

As @palacsint said, echo 244 > /sys/class/backlight/intel_backlight/brightness path works for me.

But max and min values are resent in /sys/class/backlight/intel_backlight/max_brightness and /sys/class/backlight/intel_backlight/bl_power files respectively.

Also, the actual brightness that your computer is running now is present in /sys/class/backlight/intel_backlight/actual_brightness


ddccontrol is another option for controlling backlighting for external monitors. Here I can set the backlight of my external monitor to 50% of its power with:

ddccontrol -p -r 0x10 -w 50

I looked in possible solutions for this problem to improve the way Redshift handles brightness changes. Through there I found that there is a patchset for the Linux kernel to improve compatibility across devices, so that laptops and external screens could work similarly, through sysfs.

In the meantime, ddccontrol is the only thing that works for me here. As usual, the Arch wiki has good overall documentation on the topic as well.


To set absolute brightness (for laptop users):

BRIGHTNESS=50 # 0 to 100

dbus-send \
--session \
--type=method_call \
--dest="org.gnome.SettingsDaemon.Power" \
/org/gnome/SettingsDaemon/Power \
org.freedesktop.DBus.Properties.Set \
string:"org.gnome.SettingsDaemon.Power.Screen" \
string:"Brightness" \

I am using i3 as my window manager and I had uninstalled gnome, so the gnome solution didn't work for me. And the other software based approaches just made the screen look more black. So, after a bit of reading, I came across brightctl. Install it using apt install.

sudo apt install brightctl

You will need permissions to modify the display device, which only members of the group video(and obviously root) can do. So, make sure you add the current user to the video group. You can do this like so :

sudo usermod $(whoami) -a -G video

After installation, I can increase/decrease brightness using the below commands by 10 -- this is very gradual and gives me more control. :

#Increase brightness
/usr/bin/brightnessctl -d intel_backlight set +10

#Reduce brightness
/usr/bin/brightnessctl -d intel_backlight set 10-

I have added keybindings in my i3 config. Here is a snippet of the keybinding.

#Increase brightness
bindsym XF86MonBrightnessUp exec  /usr/bin/brightnessctl -d intel_backlight set +10

#Reduce brightness
bindsym XF86MonBrightnessDown exec /usr/bin/brightnessctl -d intel_backlight set 10-
  • In current Ubuntu, the package is called brightnessctl - like the command
    – Guss
    Commented Aug 15, 2023 at 21:15

Using the above answers, I created this script (saved in my home directory as brightness.sh) to modify display brightness (as the laptop's keyboard suffered a spilled tea issue and became unusable). Feel free to use it (if you have the designated files... otherwise tinkering to point to your variation of them will be necessary).

function main_menu {
  sudo clear

  cursetting=$(cat /sys/class/backlight/intel_backlight/brightness)
  maxsetting=$(cat /sys/class/backlight/intel_backlight/max_brightness)

  echo ""
  echo "----------------------- Brightness -----------------------"
  echo " 1. Set Display to Minimum (Powersave) brightness setting."
  echo " 2. Set Display to Low (Conservative) brightness setting."
  echo " 3. Set Display to Medium brightness setting."
  echo " 4. Set Display to High (Performance) brightness setting."
  echo " 5. Set Display to Maximum brightness setting."
  echo " 6. Exit."
  echo "----------------------------------------------------------"

  if [ $cursetting -eq $powersave ]; then
    if [ $cursetting -eq $conservative ]; then
      if [ $cursetting -eq $medium ]; then
        if [ $cursetting -eq $performance ]; then
          if [ $cursetting -eq $maxsetting ]; then

  echo "        Current Display Setting - "$cursetting;
  echo ""
  echo -e "Please enter your choice: \c"

function press_enter {
  echo ""
  echo -n "Press Enter to continue."

while [ $choice -eq 7 ]; do
  read choice
  if [ $choice -eq 1 ]; then
    echo $powersave | sudo tee /sys/class/backlight/intel_backlight/brightness
    if [ $choice -eq 2 ]; then
      echo $conservative | sudo tee /sys/class/backlight/intel_backlight/brightness
      if [ $choice -eq 3 ]; then
        echo $medium | sudo tee /sys/class/backlight/intel_backlight/brightness
        if [ $choice -eq 4 ]; then
          echo $performance | sudo tee /sys/class/backlight/intel_backlight/brightness
          if [ $choice -eq 5 ]; then
            echo $maxsetting | sudo tee /sys/class/backlight/intel_backlight/brightness
            if [ $choice -eq 6 ]; then
              echo -e "Please enter the NUMBER of your choice: \c"
              choice = 7
  • You could do better than just nesting a lot of if conditions, like elif or even better case. Also I suggest reading a style guide like google.github.io/styleguide/shell.xml and trying a linter like shellcheck as it helps you create better code. I wish someone told me this when I started scripting years ago. :)
    – LiveWireBT
    Commented Jan 2, 2019 at 5:38

To increase brightness using xdotool, run the following command:

$ xdotool key XF86MonBrightnessUp

To decrease brightness using xdotool, run the following command:

$ xdotool key XF86MonBrightnessDown 

Since xdotool simulates real hardware keypresses, this is a hardware level change of brightness.

Source: https://linuxhint.com/display_brightness_commandline/

  • This is great. My laptop screen brightness has gone below 5% so I went to another monitor in run in terminal a couple of times.
    – hrvoj3e
    Commented Jul 4, 2023 at 11:43

Interactive ncurses-like UI using xbacklight

A poor man's ncurses. Hit h and it goes down 10%, hit l and it goes up 10%. Then show the current luminosity.

xback() (
  echo "less: h, more: l, quit: q"
  while ! $done; do
    read -rsn1 key
    if [ "$key" = h ]; then
      xbacklight -dec 10
    elif [ "$key" = l ]; then
      xbacklight -inc 10
    elif [ "$key" = q ]; then
    printf "\r$(xbacklight -get) "

Based on placsint's answer

cd /sys/class/backlight/intel_backlight/
cat max_brightness | sudo tee brightness

You can set the x% brightness of display on follow way:


sudo brightnessctl -d intel_backlight set [your wanted value in % of max]

Install brightctl:

sudo apt install brightctl

Set the brightness to one % value in a range of 0 - 100 %:

sudo brightnessctl -d intel_backlight set 60%

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