I installed stock Ubuntu 16.04 on my computer with a 30" monitor. All the window decorations are enormous. All the font sizes are gigantic. Some of the icons near the clock are humongous.

How can I change these sizes? A way to tweak things without editing config files is preferred. Perhaps it's dependent on the "theme" (currently Ambiance)---how do I change the sizes defined there?

What I've tried:

This is what the Displays config screen looks like this:

Displays config screen

Note that there is no Scale for menu and title bars option, so nothing referencing that setting is applicable (such as the answers to this question).

Unity tweak tool's Text scaling factor setting under Fonts seems to only apply to text, but not window decorations, so that's not a full solution. (And obviously, setting the font sizes there also affects text but not window decorations).

I've also tried to change the DPI settings from the answers to this question, but nothing in the top answer there seems to affect anything at all on my machine.

I've also pored through gconf-editor for any settings that might affect any of these sizes but didn't find anything but font size settings again.

Other considerations:

I should mention that I've run into this on two computers now, which is why I'm seeking a solution in software rather than changing resolutions or getting different monitors. I installed stock Ubuntu 16.04 while my other machine was hooked up to a 4k display, and then moved it to a smaller, HD-only monitor. I have the exact same problem there: everything's too big. (But it looked great while it was on the 4k display!)


Objects of your interface are too big because your resolution is too low. You've got large 30'' monitor and only 1920x1200 resolution (as I can see on your screenshot).

Open the "Resolution" dropdown menu - it should contain 2560x1600 setting (which has the same size ratio as your current one, i.e. 16:10). Select it and press "Apply". If the dropdown menu line with 2560x1600 is not the last, and your monitor is able to sustain even greater resolution, use it.

And then, when your resolution will fit the native resolution of your monitor, you can use the advice you've mentioned in your question to adjust the DPI of your monitor properly.

Different GUI aspire to achieve resolution independence. This will ensure that all interface elements will look the same and have the same size on different device types be it phone, tablet or PC monitor. If you check the mentioned link, you'll see that GNOME isn't resolution independent yet. 1920x1200 fits well the 22-23'' monitor. If you use it on 15'' screen, all objects will be too small and you'll need to increase font size to get improved readability. In your case the screen is 7'' bigger than the proper one for this resolution, that's why you've got an opposite problem - everything looks too big.

If you wish to alter your font sizes, this may also decrease the sizes of your interface objects. Use GSettings configuration tool to achieve that. Run this command in your terminal:

gsettings list-recursively | grep desktop | grep font

In my case it returns:

org.gnome.desktop.wm.preferences titlebar-font 'Ubuntu Bold 10'
org.gnome.desktop.wm.preferences titlebar-uses-system-font false
org.gnome.desktop.interface document-font-name 'Ubuntu 10'
org.gnome.desktop.interface font-name 'Ubuntu 10'
org.gnome.desktop.interface monospace-font-name 'Liberation Mono 10'
org.gnome.nautilus.desktop font 'Ubuntu 10'

First key affects the window titlebar, third key sets Document font name/size, fourth key sets Font name/size which affects all interface elements (i.e. menus, panels, etc.), fifth key sets Monospace font/name which is used in your terminal. And the sixth setting affects the name/size of the font of your desktop icons (if any).

So, if I wish to decrease, say, the size of the font used on the panels by one (in my case 'Ubuntu 10' will become 'Ubuntu 9'), then I should run the command:

gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.interface font-name 'Ubuntu 9'

Adjust the sizes of your fonts as you see fit, selecting the proper schemes and keys with GSettings. If you prefer GUI tools, you can try Unity Tweak Tool, which can be found here.

  • 1
    I appreciate your suggestions, but there are some problems: 1. I'm asking for a way to change the sizes in software, not by changing my resolution. 2. The Resolution dropdown contains no resolutions larger than the one I'm currently running. 3. As I said, the "advice" I tried from that question about changing DPI had exactly zero affect on anything, and I'm doubtful it would be different if I changed resolutions first. – chazomaticus Jun 16 '16 at 20:43
  • 1
    @chazomaticus What's the model of your monitor? – whtyger Jun 17 '16 at 7:44
  • 1
    As I mentioned in my edit, I've already tried editing all those font sizes--they affect the fonts, but not any window manager chrome sizes. – chazomaticus Jun 19 '16 at 18:34
  • 1
    @chazomaticus Could you answer my question: what's the model of your monitor? – whtyger Jun 19 '16 at 18:46

I have no research to back this up, but I'm posting it because after looking for a week or so, I now believe it's true.

There are no configurable window manager decoration/chrome sizes in stock Ubuntu 16.04.

It's possible to configure the sizes of fonts, which can make some UI elements such as menus smaller, but the window manager will always draw the close/minimize/maximize buttons, for example, at the same pixel size. The easiest way to change font settings is by installing Unity Tweak Tool (unity-tweak-tool is the package name) and modifying them there; alternately whtyger's answer contains a command-line solution.


There is a mightier software for configurations than the unity tweak tool: compizconfig settings manager - ccsm! Download it from the software center or from the command line:

sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager

There you can change and configure almost everything you want. It's definitely the mightiest configuration tool around, which might be what you are looking for!

  • 1
    ccsm is a powerful tool indeed. Would you please explain how these decorations can be altered with it? – whtyger Jun 20 '16 at 19:33

Further to whtyger's answer above, if you are using Nemo as your default file manager, Nautilus & Gnome settings will have not effect on the Desktop Files/Folders icon text.

Instead use:

gsettings list-recursively | grep nemo | grep font

and this should return a result including, "org.nemo.desktop font ...", e.g.

org.nemo.desktop font 'Ubuntu 11'

changing the font details above to, for example, 'SanSerif 8', will change the Desktop Files/Folders icon text size and font, e.g.

gsettings set org.nemo.desktop font 'SanSerif 8'

I spent ages trying to figure out what is missing or wrong with my laptop, only to eventually realise that using Nemo file manager as a default, changed whtyger's answer detail slightly.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.