Eclipse Juno (historical versions too) has too much padding applied to the tabs and borders. This makes it hard to work with multiple project folders, especially ones containing multiple packages and nested directories, due to an overall lack of space.

This only appears to be an issue on Linux. Windows and OSX both have less padding which vastly improves the user experience.

This issue affects my 15.4 inch laptop with a resolution of 1366 x 768. I'm not sure if this issue affects larger resolutions.

Is there a way to change the padding and make the whole application look a little more compact / smaller?

I've attached a screenshot of an empty Eclipse project in Eclipse. I'll add an OSX screenshot tomorrow for comparison.

Eclipse Juno on Ubuntu 12.10

Eclipse Juno on OSX


Eclipse uses the SWT toolkit which uses GTK, so if you can apply some theme which reduces padding, you'll see that improved on Eclipse.

I made the following test: created a small .gtkrc-2.0 file on my Home folder with the following contents:

style "eclipse" {
  xthickness = 0
  ythickness = 0

class "GtkWidget" style "eclipse"

So, the results are (upper screenshot is before, bottom is after):

Eclipse workspace dialog, before and after creating the .gtkrc-2.0 file

... not as impressive as the second screenshot, from the New Java Class... dialog (left is before the changes, right is after):

Eclipse New Java Class dialog before and after

The clues were from the Eclipse SWT FAQ and the GnomeArt Tutorial on themes.


  • 1
    This looks really promising! I will give this a shot soon. Will this affect the whole system or can I localise the .gtkrc file to Eclipse only (not sure if I need to localise the changes to Eclipse yet as this could be quite nice across the whole system)? – csilk Dec 3 '12 at 16:42
  • I'd say it depends. On Ubuntu 12.04 it didn't affect other applications I commonly use (Nautilus, gEdit, Transmission), but I think it's because they are built on GTK 3, and this formatting applies only to GTK 2. If you are on another older distro which uses GTK 2, you'll set that change for all other applications. – Denis Fuenzalida Dec 3 '12 at 17:50
  • I've applied your changes and this seem to make the dialogue boxes a lot nicer but the tabs and the padding on borders in the actual main area / workbench don't seem to have been affected. Is there a way to apply these changes to those areas too? – csilk Dec 3 '12 at 19:33
  • I looked some more and this question has 2 excellent answers, including one specific about the font on the tabs. – Denis Fuenzalida Dec 3 '12 at 21:21
  • This has pretty much fixed my issues. Whilst not great having to hack away at the gtk and css settings, this is much more usable than what you get out of the box. Thanks :-) – csilk Dec 4 '12 at 18:54

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