I'd like to make everything grayscale. The utility xcalib can be used to invert the colours displayed (every colour displayed is changed to its compliment) using the following command:

xcalib -i -a

How could I make the display grayscale? Could I desaturate in some way, for example?


  • First, why? Second, can you use the monitors color controls and do it at the monitor? Third, you can adjust your color-depth but I don't know if you can do grayscale (might be b/w only). Apr 4, 2014 at 14:07
  • 1: It's just a subjective preference. Sometimes I find it relaxing to view things in grayscale. 2: The displays I am using offer control over colour balance and gamma, but not saturation, so this does not appear to be possible. In any case, I want a solution that is usable on multiple different displays. 3: Yes, I note that Xcalib offers this colour balance (and gamma) control, but it does not appear to offer saturation control.
    – d3pd
    Apr 4, 2014 at 14:14
  • 3
    If you use Compiz you can use the solution provided here Setting a greyscale (or monochrome) color scheme.
    – loafer
    Apr 4, 2014 at 14:16
  • 1
    While it appears to apply the saturation changes only to active windows (i.e., it doesn't make everything grayscale), this is a pretty good solution. Thank you
    – d3pd
    Apr 4, 2014 at 14:24

1 Answer 1


You could also add the following to your xorg configuration to achieve a greyscale output:

Section "Screen"
    Identifier "greyscale configuration"
    Defaultdepth 8
    SubSection "Display"
        Depth 8
        Visual "GrayScale"

This might work depending on your video driver.

  • 1
    Thank you for this suggestion. It does not appear to work on my computer, but I have seen reports of success using this approach. I think further exploration is needed.
    – d3pd
    Apr 5, 2014 at 11:13

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