Say I want to temporarily invert the colors on my screen for a better reading experience at night. However, I don't want to install CompizConfig Settings Manager and use its Invert plugin. How can I do it?

  • Why don't you want to install compiz setting manager? – xangua Dec 1 '13 at 3:20
  • If you do use compiz's negative plugin then likely the default binding to toggle screen, (super+m) is already taken. In that case change to something else, super+b or super+j are open or whatever. CompizConfig Settings Manager is just a means to enable, disable & adjust compiz plugins, nothing more – doug Dec 1 '13 at 7:35
  • @AngelSalinasHuerta, I'm trying to keep this particular installation as vanilla as possible; I understand an inexperienced user could end up giving me a lot of work if they decide to get curious on CCSM. – Waldir Leoncio Dec 1 '13 at 10:36
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    Also see askubuntu.com/questions/134668/… – belacqua Jan 14 '14 at 2:19

Install xcalib package, e.g. in terminal (Ctrl+Alt+T):

sudo apt-get install xcalib

Switch to inverted colors in terminal using:

xcalib -i -a

And switch back using the same command.

Add the command (xcalib -i -a) as a new keyboard shortcut (nice choice is Ctrl+Alt+I) or to start up applications. (Edit: You may need to restart to be able to use the short cut.)

I'm using this regularly on Ubuntu 12.04 (with Unity) but also 10.04 worked as well as 13.10 works now. An alternative is magnifier -z 1 -fi from package gnome-mag, but this is no longer available in Ubuntu 16.04.

  • Perfect, this is exactly what I was looking for! – Waldir Leoncio Jan 3 '14 at 0:28
  • When I run xcalib -i -a, it switches my screen for about 5 seconds and then automatically switches back. I'm on Ubuntu 14.04. – jasonaburton Sep 16 '15 at 17:46
  • I was using it on Ubuntu 14.04 with Unity for quite some time and it was fine. It is fine with Lubuntu 15.04 as well. It doesn't play well with multiple screens (only one screen is inverted) but I never had a need to investigate. I'm sorry I can't help you. – wenzeslaus Sep 16 '15 at 22:34
  • xcalib -i -a works fine for me on Ubuntu 14.04, even with multiple displays. – rafaelcosman Jul 30 '16 at 12:02
  • xcalib -i -a works, but only for a few seconds (then the screen goes back to normal). I'm on 16.04, do you know what could be the problem? – Khashir Oct 24 '16 at 21:30

Install Redshift. Redshift adjusts the color temperature of your screen according to your surroundings. This may help your eyes hurt less if you are working in front of the screen at night.


  • I've used Redshift in the past, and it does help reading at night. However, I believe it doesn't cut it in nearly-zero light situations. – Waldir Leoncio Dec 26 '13 at 23:17

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