I'd like to reduce the contrast of the GTK widgets, that is, make the borders less articulate. E.g. in the screenshot below, the separator above and below the toolbar is very strong. I'd like smoother borders.
How is this possible?
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Actually, I don't know of any way to do that. The only way to make such a change would be to open up the gtkrc file (it's found in your
/home/usernamehere/.themes or in
/usr/share/themes) and to modify settings there.
You appear not to be using any gtk theme, so you may want to check out this tutorial on making gtk themes that suit your needs.
This is not possible in the way you imagine without getting a new or different theme (system > preferences > appearance). Although you can kindof reduce or increase the contrast of a window with compiz, this will likely not give you the output you desire, as it will kindof reduce the contrast of the entire window (text and icons included).
If you want to do it with compiz: