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?

  • 74
    +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 Sep 13 '10 at 21:02
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    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 Dec 12 '11 at 3:20
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    @bobince: seriously, how on earth could this ever have happened? it's the most intensely frustrating thing ever. – Claudiu Feb 27 '14 at 22:37
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    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 Sep 25 '14 at 23:34
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    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. :) – laughing_man Mar 26 '15 at 22:42

11 Answers 11


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.

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    Awesome, I didn't know that you can use Alt+MiddleClick to resize. I only knew Alt+LeftClick to move. – pableu Oct 25 '10 at 8:25
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    Okay, but what about laptop owners with touchpads? How can I perform a middle-click-drag with a Synaptics touchpad? – MiKy Mar 21 '12 at 22:36
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    @MiKy: Clicking both buttons at once simulates a middle-click on most touchpads. So alt + mash both -> drag should do the trick. – Jacob Peddicord Mar 23 '12 at 15:39
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    Wow wow wow... You're awesome!!! Superb trick! – Legend Nov 14 '13 at 5:13
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    For me it was Alt+RightClick which resized the windows, while Alt+MiddleClick sent them to back. – stackount Feb 5 '15 at 16:14

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 Oct 21 '10 at 2:28
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    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 Oct 21 '10 at 2:38
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    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 May 18 '12 at 19:54
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    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. – Jonathan Hartley Apr 28 '14 at 15:41
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    I have tested it working on Gnome (v12.04), but does not work on KDE, LXDE nor XFCE. – Sopalajo de Arrierez Oct 20 '14 at 0:34

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

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    +1. Worth noting that this resizes the active window, not necessarily the one the mouse is over. – Ian Mackinnon Sep 21 '11 at 18:16
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    +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 May 18 '12 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.

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    Just a note: pressing and dragging with the middle mouse button is not always possible, like on some notebook touchpads (like mine)... – MiKy Dec 16 '10 at 19:07
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    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 Dec 16 '10 at 20:41
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    Unfortunately, the Alt-MiddleClick does not work on remote desktops. The Alt-F8 does seem to work. – keepitsimpleengineer Dec 2 '11 at 21:31
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    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. – Jonathan Hartley Apr 28 '14 at 15:43
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    Simplicity is fine BUT ONLY IF THE DEFAULTS WORK. – Zan Lynx Mar 6 '15 at 1:33

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). – marenostrum Oct 20 '10 at 18:00

It looks like this will be fixed in Natty.

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    It wasn't. Or they reverted back to 1-pixel borders in Precise – MestreLion May 18 '12 at 19:59
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    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 Apr 14 '16 at 15:22

(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).


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


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.

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