When you want to resize a window in gnome (as well as in other systems) you can click-and-hold at the window's border and than drag it. The problem is (and do correct me if I'm wrong here) that the draggable border is just a couple of pixels thick in gnome. That tends to be a little frustrating, and contributes to my wrist pains from using the mouse, as it requires very careful movement of the mouse.

How can I change the thickness of the area I can click in order to resize a window? I don't want to increase the appearance of the window border, I'm not talking about eye candy here. I want to fine tune this functionality where I can resize a window by dragging its border.

Is there a setting somewhere that will change this?

  • I admit I had not seen those questions. However, they both involve themes. I would like to change the functionality without affecting the appearance.
    – Malabarba
    Oct 20, 2010 at 16:00
  • Sorry, I didn't realize the comments before I post my answer. You may totally forget about my answer if this post should be moved, deleted etc. Oct 20, 2010 at 16:02
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    @Bruce: The solution of using alt + middle-click doesn't involve changing appearance. It's not strictly changing the border width, but it solves the same problem. In fact, it gives you a much wider area (the whole window) than you would get by changing the border width.
    – Matthew
    Oct 20, 2010 at 16:32
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    @Matthew: you need 2 hands free for that though... ;)
    – JanC
    Oct 20, 2010 at 17:28
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    @JanC: Or a spare button on your mouse you can rebind the shortcut to.
    – Roger Pate
    Oct 20, 2010 at 17:42

3 Answers 3


Change the following parameters in the appropriate Metacity XML file.

Ambiance's theme is located in /usr/share/themes/Ambiance/metacity-1/metacity-theme-1.xml

The folowing parameters change the width of the borders and consequently the width of the re-size area:

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

By default they are set to "1", but I found that changing them to "4" doesn't change the appearance very drastically, but makes it very much easier to re-size using the mouse.

  • 7
    To reload the theme without logging out you can run the command: metacity-message reload-theme
    – gacrux
    Jul 30, 2012 at 21:37
  • 1
    If only I had root access to my computer... Nov 15, 2013 at 14:01
  • thank you SO much @pgwulfing this is FINALLY the answer I've been looking for. The hotkeys don't work for me because I have an interactive ubuntu environment through a chrome tab and hotkeys are finicky at best with it. Jun 9, 2014 at 19:07

You can't.

This is a three year old bug with no solution.

You either have to use a different theme or do as I have done and give up trying and use keys to resize windows.

Mini Howto:

Alt + F8 to start resizing. Use arrow keys to resize.

Pressing Return will save the resize, escape will revert you back.

The bug report is here and has hundreds of comments on it and thirteen duplicate bug reports on launchpad alone.

  • You sort of can. See the two questions the Jorge linked above (particularly the second one).
    – Matthew
    Oct 20, 2010 at 16:31
  • Wow. Thanks. I'll soon be logging into launchpad just to contribute and follow that bug.
    – Malabarba
    Oct 20, 2010 at 16:45
  • @Bruce: Go ahead and follow it, but please don't comment on it unless you have a patch (see the warning at the top of the bug report). The developers are aware of it, but it's a technical issue and they asked not to be spammed about it any more.
    – Matthew
    Oct 20, 2010 at 17:50
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    As Matthew says, there are some answers. The other two questions on the same topic are merged on this question: askubuntu.com/questions/4109/increase-resize-margin-on-windows I'm deleting my answer because there are better answers on that thread. Oct 20, 2010 at 18:06
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    After pressing Alt+F8 you can also resize with the mouse (just move it).
    – JanC
    Oct 20, 2010 at 18:34

Possible answer: works on xubuntu 20.04 https://app.box.com/s/7gk3pwdn5onj5q5b9eowa2315qy8pcy3 (zip file) instructions: https://mxlinux.org/wiki/xfce/changing-border-size-with-xfce4-window-manager/

  • Similar comment as askubuntu.com/questions/833950/… - please can the files be hosted on a public hosted platform?
    – fossfreedom
    Jul 13, 2021 at 13:29
  • Currently it has not been packaged and added to the MX repos or anywhere else. And I haven't figured out how to edit a current theme to include the changes made this way, someone who can come up with a modified theme is, of course free to try, and upload to a public forum. There seem to be instructions on that also at MXlinux forums under the same post/topic "changing-border-size-with-xfce4-window-manager/ " Jul 14, 2021 at 10:35

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