I have dual monitor set up in Ubuntu 11.10. I want to have a single wallpaper spanned across both monitors. How do I do this?

  • Might want to note, although nitrogen doesn't appear to change the wallpaper of nvidia machines, it has a cool side effect that still might make it worthwhile. If the changes via nitrogen occur more recently than your changes in the default ubuntu desktop manager, the images will show up in the background of terminals, if their background is set to transparent. So you essentially have a 'hidden' wallpaper. – user136518 Feb 28 '13 at 20:40
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    System settings > appearance - 'Span' instead of 'zoom', and most images will have to be scaled to be larger and then cropped into the aspect ratio which is going to be much wider if the monitors are placed side by side. – Vass Sep 12 '16 at 17:41

First you need a wallpaper large enough for both monitors. You can either make one with the gimp or down load one. Alternately you can use a separate image for each monitor.

You can then install a handy little application, nitrogen

sudo apt-get install nitrogen

You then run nitrogen with the path to the directory with your picture(s)

nitrogen ~/Pictures

And select the image. At the bottom of nitrogen, select "automatic" and "Full screen" as options. alternately you can use nitrogen to set a separate image on each screen, up to you (sort of depends on your background images).


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    Yep. I got it downloaded and running. However when I press 'Apply' nothing happens. I've got a Nvidia graphics card installed which means use of the Nvidia X Server settings. – MegaBubbletea Dec 21 '11 at 8:30
  • Odd, nitrogen works with my nvidia card. – Panther Dec 21 '11 at 13:14
  • Restarted PC yet still not working. Even tried using root access. No luck either. – MegaBubbletea Dec 23 '11 at 7:54
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    Nitrogen works after this tweak: askubuntu.com/a/96979/118 – zengr Nov 27 '12 at 18:17
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    This answer is not working for me on ubuntu 16.04. When I click 'Apply' nothing happens, and the tweak doesn't help. I'm using 'plasma'. – Carlo Wood Oct 30 '16 at 13:07

if using gnome-shell, in tweak tool under desktop there is an option to have the image span the desktop. This makes it go across both monitors(or all).

No Nitrogen Necessary

Unity also has this same option as shown below:

Appearance options - span

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    +1 This is by far the simplest answer. For two 1080p monitors just crop an image to 3840x1080, select it, then choose 'span' in the options. – Tom Brossman Mar 18 '14 at 9:39
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    The options have changed since the original question. In 2011 , at the time of the question, there was no option to "Span". – Panther Jun 6 '14 at 21:48
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    None of this even exists in Ubuntu 18.04. – aalaap May 2 '18 at 5:16
  • Works for mint as well. Better view in dual monitors with 1920x1080 res with picture with dimension 3840x1080 – sgiri Jun 18 '18 at 14:14
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    @aalaap For Ubuntu 18.04, you need to install the gnome-tweaks tool manually. When you start it, under 'Appearance', you will find the option to span the desktop and lock screen wallpapers. – likeitlikeit Oct 27 '18 at 8:34

Nitrogen answer works, but another tweak is necessary. Run Advanced Settings in Gnome Tweak Tool, go to Desktop section and switch Have file manager handle the desktop off. Then wallpapers set via Nitrogen will be displayed.

If you do not have the Gnome Tweak Tool, you can use this command instead. It's an easier solution, too:

gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.background show-desktop-icons false

However there is strong disadvantage. All icons disappear from the desktop and the context menu can't be invoked. Unless you need icons on desktop this solution may be useful for you.

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  • Thankyou for your answer. Although that is a good solution I still want my desktop icons. I hope Ubuntu will fully support multiple monitor wallpapers better in future releases. – MegaBubbletea Jan 27 '12 at 6:45
  • As @topr mentioned, Nitrogen will not give you the option of desktop icons and context menus. A much better option is to combine your images in a single file, and use "span over multiple monitors" option. You ca combine images with ImageMagick, using convert +append -gravity south wallpaper*.jpg combined_wallpaper.jpg – Gui Ambros May 24 '14 at 18:55

I do not appear to be able to add a comment to an answer due to my low rep (lolz), so this is meant to be on @topr's answer.

I am the author of Nitrogen and there is code in there to detect a gnome desktop and set it properly so that you don't need to make this change, but it appears to not be functioning on modern Ubuntus. I will investigate.

Issue: https://github.com/l3ib/nitrogen/issues/16

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For Ubuntu 16.04 and higher versions which don't offer a 'span' option in the settings or no options at all, you can run the following command to force a span setting:

gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.background picture-options spanned

The effect is instant.

I've tried this with 18.04, but it seems like it should work with 16.04 and up.


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  • this works great for 18.04. gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.screensaver picture-options spanned does the same for the lockscreen – mluerig Mar 3 at 14:44

Take a look at this link: http://www.virtual-nexus-inc.com/news/2011/09/21/ubuntu-11-04-dual-monitor-backgrounds-are-easy-with-shotwell/

you can use shotwell to resize te image as your combined monotors resolution then set it as background using the default image viewer of ubuntu.

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