I tried turning the shadows off with CCSM, but it does not work ;/

System info:

Ubuntu 11.04 NN x64 desktop, HP ProBook 4520s, Unity


I think you have to choose a theme other than Ambiance or Radiance, because those override compiz's shadow settings.

If you really want to use the Ambiance borders without shadows:

  1. Create a copy of Ambiance: cp -R /usr/share/themes/Ambiance ~/.themes
  2. open ~/.themes/Ambiance/metacity-1/metacity-theme-1.xml and remove all of the <shadow> tags.
  3. Open up appearance preferences and select your new, duplicate "Ambiance" theme.
  4. Disable shadows in CCSM

Update 2015-01-21 In recent versions of Ubuntu you'll need to use Ubuntu Tweak Tool in step 3, since recent versions of the control center don't support custom themes.

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  • Install CompizConfig Settings Manager

    sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager

  • Launch it by searching from the dash in Unity, or Preferences > CompizConfig Settings Manager in Ubuntu Classic.
  • Navigate to the Window Decoration tab.enter image description here

  • Slide the Shadow Opacity to 0.enter image description here

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  • 2
    Hi, just given this a try. The radius or any other setting there seems to have no effect at all on shadows behind windows and menus. Turning off Window Decorations works, but it also removes all title bars and borders from windows (such as where the close, minimise and max buttons sit). It also removes the top bar. – nLinked Apr 25 '11 at 10:35
  • @nLinked try the solution given for this question - how-can-i-remove-shadows-of-the-windows-in-unity – avi Apr 28 '11 at 19:53
  • @Alan thx for the edit! – avi May 3 '11 at 0:09
  • With the help of all these replies and the one below, I've managed to get it to work! Thanks so much! Here are my final instructions that worked in full for me: CompizConfigSettingsManager > Effects > Window Decoration > Shadow radius and shadow to 0. Then: sudo nautilus /usr/share/themes/Ambiance/metacity-1 Then: Make new copy of metacity-theme-1.xml called metacity-theme-1.xml.originalwithshadows Then:Edit metacity-theme-1.xml Remove all lines beginning with: <shadow...>, Save the file, Right-click desktop > Change desktop background, Themes tab, Ensure Ambiance is selected as theme – nLinked May 3 '11 at 22:09
  • 2017/4/12 this answer didn't help. setting it in ubuntu unity plugin was what worked (as described in another answer) – xaxxon Apr 13 '17 at 6:38

If you're using Ubuntu 15.04, do the following.

  1. Install CCSM as in the previous answer above.

    sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager

  2. Run ccsm and click on "Ubuntu Unity Plugin"

  3. Click on "Decorations" tab and click on "Overrride Theme Settings".

  4. The shadow should disappear since the default "Active window shadow color" is transparent.

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  • 2017/4/12 just tried this and it worked. other answers above did not. – xaxxon Apr 13 '17 at 6:37

You can keep Ambiance as a theme, actually, or remove the shadows without editing the .xml files. You just have to open gconf-editor, via the terminal or Alt+F2, and then go to apps > metacity > general and uncheck "compositing manager". An additional advantage of this, if you've decided you like transparency in the terminal, is that, however many windows you have opened, the transparency is relative, not to the other windows (which can be confusing), but to the underlying desktop background.

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I got a better answer....

  1. Download new version of CompizConfig Settings Manager
  2. GOTO Ubuntu Unity Plugin Tab ( in Desktop Tab From Sidebar )
  3. GOTO decoration tab from top
  4. Reduce Everything to 0 or least possible value
  5. Check Overide Theme Settings too...

You will see instant change right away in shadows of dialogue box... or anything... :)

Also, if you are doing it for tweaking Linux... then... ALSO DO :

  1. Disable Animation
  2. Disable Fading Window
  3. Disable Window Decoration
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The setting is not controlled by Compiz; they are part of the ambiance theme. Here is what I did to tame the shadows. Open a terminal and complete the following:

cd /usr/share/themes/Ambiance/metacity-1
sudo nano metacity-theme-1.xml

Find the line (use Ctrl+w to search) that says:

shadow radius=”45.0″ opacity=”0.75″color=”#abde4f” x_offset=”1″ y_offset=”4″

Change the radius to a value you can deal with - I chose 10. Save and exit with Ctrl+o and Ctrl+x.

You may also want to move this theme to your local .themes folder - this can be done with:

cp /usr/share/themes/Ambiance/ ~/.local/share/themes/AmbianceCustom/
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Using emerald is probably easiest.

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  • 3
    Can you explain how to do that? – Eric Carvalho Mar 12 '13 at 18:55

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