How can I adapt Ubuntu to a high resolution display?

I have a display with 3200x1600px on only 11'' and everything looks really tiny.

up vote 88 down vote accepted

There are some steps to take:

1. System wide Menu and titlebar scaling

Starting with Ubuntu 14.04 we have an option that helps a bit:

Scaling Support

open the System Settings (here in english:)

LANG=c unity-control-center

Go to "Displays" and set the "Scale for menu and title bars":

system settings scale system wide

Since Ubuntu 17.10 the scaling can be set in

LANG=c gnome-control-center

Go to Settings > Devices > Displays there

see also: How to find and change the screen DPI?

2. Universal Access

Go to "Universal Access" (unity-control-center universal-access) and select "Large Text".
Note: not all applications handle this correctly, some will not reserve the extra space, so some UI elements are not accessible with this option!

3.increase unity dock size

In unity-control-center->Appearance->Look at the botom, you can adjust the size

4. adapt Firefox

see: Adjust Firefox and Thunderbird to a High DPI touchscreen display (retina)

(or use Chrome, which works fine since Version 41.0.2272.76 Ubuntu 14.10, though Chrome will need to be restarted to take effect)

5. increase font in Pidgin

There is a plugin you can install

sudo apt-get install pidgin-extprefs

Then you can increase the font in Plugins->Extended Prefs

6. create starter for applications that still don't scale

Some applications still don't obey the global scaling (mainly java) for those few applications you can create a starter to only Fix scaling of java-based applications for a high DPI screen


in older Ubuntu versions, with unity-tweak-util in the section "Fonts" you can set the "Text Scaling Factor" to 2.0. This will scale the fonts in most applications to double size.

  • Is there a way to scale the login menu as well? This is all working perfectly for me on the latest version of Ubuntu, but the login screen looks ridiculously small :( – JacobTheDev Feb 10 '16 at 15:04
  • Never thought about the urgency to change that as well. But if you find a solution please report it here – rubo77 Feb 10 '16 at 15:09
  • 3
    This leaves so many holes. Ubuntu needs to make a concerted effort to consolidate these issues into a proper option for the display settings. – jowan sebastian Sep 14 '16 at 13:21

Go to System Settings and then to displays. Look for "Scale for menu and title bars." then drag the slider to whatever size you want.

I have a MacBookPro Retina display. The accepted solution partially worked for me but I was unable to get Java apps to work properly, and I found the OS to become too laggy while using 2x scaling.

Changing resolutions while using Ubuntu's default Nouveau display driver would result in a black screen and force me to restart my computer.

I finally found a solution, and a simple one. But this does not use scaling and this will not take advantage of HiDPI, but at least Ubuntu will be usable.

  • Open "System Settings" -> "Software & Updates" -> "Additional Drivers".
    • I selected "Using NVIDIA binary driver - version 352.63 from nvidia-352 (proprietary, tested)".
    • Restart computer.
  • Launch NVIDIA X Server Settings.
    • Select "X Server Display Configuration"
    • Select the resolution of your choice and enjoy the target resolution full of Ubuntuness (and not a black screen!).
  • 1
    I should add that I was unable to get the NVIDIA settings to persist correctly. Every time I rebooted the machine the resolution would be wrong. I since bought a refurbished thinkpad to run Ubuntu. – Brad Goss Dec 26 '15 at 19:01
  • I don't seem to find any option there to change the resolution though. It displays the current resolution but nothing else. – xji Nov 28 '17 at 13:35

For Windows programs using Wine I found the answer via a virtual desktop - (this also avoids the 32-bit page fault error that can happen) - so either run your program from command line thus - or create a shell script for this command -

wine explorer /desktop=d1,3840x2160 Keditw32.exe & disown

This way I'm able to run my favourite windows editor on UHD display with NVidia graphics card just fine.

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