It takes me about 5 tries to resize a window on my computer.

Is there a way to increase the resize margin on the edge of windows?

  • 82
    +1. The single pixel you get on the left and right borders in the default theme (and on the bottom now too, in Maverick's default) is a cruel joke.
    – bobince
    Commented Sep 13, 2010 at 21:02
  • 2
    This is still a relevant question. In Ubuntu 11.10, when not using Unity, my theme has borderless windows. It's supposed to have an invisible resize area outside the window, isn't it? Is there some way to enable this feature?
    – Mojo
    Commented Dec 12, 2011 at 3:20
  • 11
    @bobince: seriously, how on earth could this ever have happened? it's the most intensely frustrating thing ever.
    – Claudiu
    Commented Feb 27, 2014 at 22:37
  • 8
    This nonsense is STILL a problem in 14.04. I don't know why the UI designers think a 1-pixel window border is acceptable. And don't even get me started on the lack of a real scroll bar.
    – Ron Smith
    Commented Sep 25, 2014 at 23:34
  • 8
    This is possibly the most irritating thing about Ubuntu that I've ever found. Thanks for this question, you saved my mouse from being thrown at the wall. :) Commented Mar 26, 2015 at 22:42

12 Answers 12


As others have mentioned, it depends on the theme. Try a few out. What I frequently do instead is hold down Alt and middle-click (right-click in some environments) and drag to resize, which works anywhere on the window.

Note that many themes that seem to have a 1px border (or no border at all) actually do tend to have a generous invisible border just outside the window. You usually don't have to pinpoint a tiny window border to resize.

  • 6
    Awesome, I didn't know that you can use Alt+MiddleClick to resize. I only knew Alt+LeftClick to move.
    – pableu
    Commented Oct 25, 2010 at 8:25
  • 2
    Okay, but what about laptop owners with touchpads? How can I perform a middle-click-drag with a Synaptics touchpad?
    – MiKy
    Commented Mar 21, 2012 at 22:36
  • 1
    @MiKy: Clicking both buttons at once simulates a middle-click on most touchpads. So alt + mash both -> drag should do the trick. Commented Mar 23, 2012 at 15:39
  • 15
    For me it was Alt+RightClick which resized the windows, while Alt+MiddleClick sent them to back.
    – stackount
    Commented Feb 5, 2015 at 16:14
  • 4
    I wonder when someone from the Ubuntu developers will actually decide to fix this. For Heaven's sake, this issue is present for almost 6-7 years and this makes it even more frustrating. After all with the Unity interface isn't the OS supposed to be more touch/mouse-friendly? It is literally impossible to resize a window by using touch if you have the desktop install and the input device is just a touch screen unless you are a pixel sniper or lucky enough to hit the border's single pixel with your fat finger. :D Commented May 18, 2016 at 15:17

To modify Ambiance to have a wider margin, open /usr/share/themes/Ambiance/metacity-1/metacity-theme-1.xml and increase the values of the following properties:

<distance name="left_width" value="1"/>
<distance name="right_width" value="1"/>
<distance name="bottom_height" value="1"/>

You may want to back up the original file before modifying, and/or make a duplicate of the entire theme.

Note that you can also resize windows by pressing Alt + Button2.

  • 1
    Why not package it by default in Ubuntu? There are drawbacks for this solution?
    – Extender
    Commented Oct 21, 2010 at 2:28
  • 3
    A major drawback would be that a wide visible border is usually aesthetically displeasing, as well as not being in line with other theme elements that have thin outlines. See blogs.fedoraproject.org/wp/mclasen/2010/10/09/getting-a-grip and blogs.gnome.org/metacity/2010/01/20/… for better solutions for defaults.
    – mgunes
    Commented Oct 21, 2010 at 2:38
  • 5
    It is a great approach, specially for netbooks when "smashing both buttons of a touchpad simultanesosuly while holding alt and perform a drag" is as cumbersome as trying to hit that thin border
    – MestreLion
    Commented May 18, 2012 at 19:54
  • 6
    I don't remotely feel like it's a major drawback. The difference is subjective, and could easily be preferable with wider borders. Meanwhile the annoyance and number of person-hours lost fiddling with this ridiculous issue on all levels is immense. Commented Apr 28, 2014 at 15:41
  • 2
    I have tested it working on Gnome (v12.04), but does not work on KDE, LXDE nor XFCE. Commented Oct 20, 2014 at 0:34

There is also a default keyboard short-cut in gnome -- Alt-F8 -- that is a 'resize window' function.

  • 3
    +1. Worth noting that this resizes the active window, not necessarily the one the mouse is over. Commented Sep 21, 2011 at 18:16
  • 2
    +1. Very nice approach! And you can also navigate to the desired border using the arrow keys. So ALT+F8, release, choose border with arrow keys, use arrows to resize, ESC to leave resize mode
    – MestreLion
    Commented May 18, 2012 at 19:58

The GNOME desktop environment is designed to give priority to usability and simplicity over customizability. Hence, the width of the window border is something that is not easily changeable. In all practical considerations, Jacob's recommendation that you use Alt+middle-click instead of dragging the window borders is likely to be the best solution for most users.

With that said, the size of the window border does vary between Metacity themes. As a first step, you might try picking a different theme from GNOME-Look.org.

If you're really determined to adjust just the window border without changing the rest of the theme, it is possible to modify existing themes. Here's a reference to get you started.

  • 6
    Just a note: pressing and dragging with the middle mouse button is not always possible, like on some notebook touchpads (like mine)...
    – MiKy
    Commented Dec 16, 2010 at 19:07
  • 2
    Excellent point. One workaround that should be fine for most people would be to check /apps/metacity/general/resize_with_right_button in gconf-editor. I've only seen a few graphics programs (Inkscape comes to mind) where this setting gets in the way.
    – ændrük
    Commented Dec 16, 2010 at 20:41
  • 4
    One cannot claim that usability is a priority if this fiddly, annoying, difficult to use default is being kept just to satisfy some subjective design aesthetic. Commented Apr 28, 2014 at 15:43
  • 10
    Simplicity is fine BUT ONLY IF THE DEFAULTS WORK.
    – Zan Lynx
    Commented Mar 6, 2015 at 1:33
  • 3
    The GNOME desktop environment is designed to give priority to usability and simplicity, It is pretty ironic that having a 1 pixel "hot" area for resizing is not user friendly at all.
    – Ejaz
    Commented Aug 18, 2016 at 15:17

The thickness of the window border is set by the theme you are using.
So to make the window edges bigger try a different theme.

  • 4
    I want to make an addition: You don't have to give up your theme and pick a new one with altogether. You may change just the border. Go to System > Preferences > Appearance > Theme > Customize > Window Border and choose something with a thick border. (For example HumanLogin if you have a light colour background image, or SphereCrystal if you have a darker background, to obtain some contrast to see the borders more clearly). Commented Oct 20, 2010 at 18:00

(This is from my answer to a duplicate question that was closed. )

It depends on the theme used. You could change your theme, or edit the theme if you really wanted to, but an easier and more consistent way is to hold down Alt and drag with the middle mouse button. You can imagine it as slicing the window into a 3x3 grid, and clicking in any rectangle but the center one will allow you to drag the appropriate side or corner.

Note that Alt + MiddleButton is the default configuration. To change it (at least in Compiz):

  1. Go to System -> Preferences -> CompizConfig Settings Manager if running classic Gnome, or search for CompizConfig Settings Manager in the Dash if running Unity.
  2. Find the Resize Window plugin; it's under Window Management.
  3. Open it and go to the Bindings tab if you aren't already there.

The last two settings are called Initiate Window Resize. One of them is the middle click option described above; the other is a similar keyboard binding that allows you to resize with the keyboard arrow keys (as well as the mouse without clicking).


It looks like this will be fixed in Natty.

  • 7
    It wasn't. Or they reverted back to 1-pixel borders in Precise
    – MestreLion
    Commented May 18, 2012 at 19:59
  • 1
    This is still an issue in Trusty Tahr 14.04! You keep saying it's related to theme, but somebody explain me why all the default built-in themes except "Shiny" suffer from this incredible annoyance?? They look good, but I simply cannot choose them because I would go mad whenever trying to resize a window.
    – Vitas
    Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 15:22
  • 1
    still an issue on 20.04 .... Alt + F8 then arrow keys seems to work ( assuming you have F keys and arrow keys ) Commented May 13, 2020 at 14:14

Right click on the title bar and select Resize from the popup menu.


Current Solution (2019) for Ubuntu-MATE 16.x, 18.x**

(possibly more, pls add to comments)

Yes, those borders are a pain, bordering on –pun intended– masochism...

enter image description here

1 create copy of a theme

Well, ClearLooks is (for some reason) not really a "full theme" to pick on the Theme tab, but rather a "Border Theme" under „customize..“ on the Window Border Tab:

enter image description here

Well, never mind, let's create a copy (use rsync or cp as you please):

(If you are fond of another "border theme" then duplicate that one accordingly. Look it up under customize theme-> Window Border what you are currently using.)

sudo rsync -vr /usr/share/themes/ClearlooksRe/* /usr/share/themes/ClearlooksReBIGGER

2 change border width in the xml File

sudo pluma /usr/share/themes/ClearlooksReBIGGER/metacity-1/metacity-theme-1.xml

There are actually two places:

  • under <frame_geometry name="normal"...
  • under <frame_geometry name="border"...

For left, right and bottom I went for a rather generous 12px:

<distance name="left_width" value="12"/>    <!-- FRANK: was: 4 -->
<distance name="right_width" value="12"/>
<distance name="bottom_height" value="12"/>

3 pick the new Window Border theme and there you are

enter image description here

Some background on metacity themes, if you care.

  • What if the theme I'd like to start from ( Daloa on Xubuntu 19.10) doesn't contain a .../metacity-1/metacity-theme-1.xml? Commented Jan 6, 2020 at 15:30
  • @GeroldBroserreinstatesMonica (from the top of my head:) 1. prepare the above copy of this special theme (it is not a full theme anyway); 2. Pick the theme of your like (truly as a whole); 3. within your theme, navigate to customize…→ Windows Border. Pick aforementioned copy.
    – Frank N
    Commented Jan 6, 2020 at 15:33
  • Well, there's SettingsAppearanceStyle and SettingsWindow ManagerStyleTheme but none of them has a customize... button. Commented Jan 6, 2020 at 15:58
  • I do not know about other Distros, but under Ubuntu Mate: Appearance: Theme Tab: pick the one you like. „Customize...“ (below, between „Save As“ and „Install“) → Window Border Tab → „ClearlooksReBIGGER“ (also works nice with light color themes, as I just figure out...)
    – Frank N
    Commented Jan 6, 2020 at 16:37

Alt+MiddleButton is the right way to resize windows; it's right are your hands, and you don't have to move the pointer to the window edges first.

However, I still find that the scroll overlay often gets in my hair. So I went for a different approach and disabled the overlays all together! Scroll still works, of course, and the nice orange scroll indicator is still present. On Ubuntu 13.04, I did it like this:

gsettings set com.canonical.desktop.interface scrollbar-mode 'overlay-touch'

You can revert it by doing:

gsettings set com.canonical.desktop.interface scrollbar-mode 'overlay-auto'

OK, to maximize the window the keyboard shortcut is ctrl+super+ up(on the keyboard) to minimize it is ctrl+super+down. To resize it is alt+ F8


I know this is an old question, but IMO none of the answers really solved this particular question, they just added workarounds.

The actual answer to this is what's described in this GitHub issue's comment, which is to manually edit a setting that isn't exposed in the GUI. (No, the Settings > Windows > Behavior > Window drag/resize threshold (Pixels) entry doesn't fix this, contrary to what 99% of users would think.)

TL;DR The "real" solution to this is:

dconf write /org/cinnamon/muffin/draggable-border-width 20

where 20 represents "20 px". The default is 10 px. Note that cinnamon and/or muffin would be replaced with whichever environment you're using. Should be somewhat easy to decipher which pertains to your system since all the other Settings > Windows fields would be listed inside it (i.e. running dconf list /org/env/windowsSettings/ would show the other Windows settings' fields).


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