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, 2013 at 20:40
  • 1
    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, 2016 at 17:41
  • Best to use the terminal command gsettings. No extra software needed. gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.background picture-options[KEY] 'centered'[VALUE] See this answer here: askubuntu.com/a/1181775/96104
    – Kyle Coots
    Jun 10, 2021 at 11:01

8 Answers 8


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

  • 4
    +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. Mar 18, 2014 at 9:39
  • 2
    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, 2014 at 21:48
  • 10
    None of this even exists in Ubuntu 18.04.
    – aalaap
    May 2, 2018 at 5:16
  • Works for mint as well. Better view in dual monitors with 1920x1080 res with picture with dimension 3840x1080
    – sgiri
    Jun 18, 2018 at 14:14
  • 8
    @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. Oct 27, 2018 at 8:34

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).


  • 5
    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. Dec 21, 2011 at 8:30
  • Odd, nitrogen works with my nvidia card.
    – Panther
    Dec 21, 2011 at 13:14
  • Restarted PC yet still not working. Even tried using root access. No luck either. Dec 23, 2011 at 7:54
  • 2
    Nitrogen works after this tweak: askubuntu.com/a/96979/118
    – zengr
    Nov 27, 2012 at 18:17
  • 2
    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, 2016 at 13:07

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.


  • 1
    this works great for 18.04. gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.screensaver picture-options spanned does the same for the lockscreen
    – mluerig
    Mar 3, 2020 at 14:44
  • works on 20.04 also
    – N1gthm4r3
    Jul 26, 2021 at 12:55
  • works on 22.10 too
    – Batwam
    Jan 11, 2023 at 17:04

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.

  • 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. Jan 27, 2012 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, 2014 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


Using GNOME-tweaks

sudo apt install gnome-tweak-tool

enter image description here

  • Using 20.04 lts, I already had this app installed and it worked fine (3 monitors) Aug 28, 2021 at 15:11
  • Great! Using Adjustment option "Wallpaper" gave me the best result
    – smcs
    Sep 10, 2021 at 10:28
  • 1
    On Ubuntu 22.04, it's called gnome-tweaks
    – Suzana
    Dec 6, 2023 at 8:46

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.

  • The link doesn't show anything about shotwell
    – Suzana
    Dec 6, 2023 at 8:47

I will suggest the same as @Alex Nolasco, however, the gnome-tweak-tool has no longer support for Ubuntu 22.04 LTS (Package 'gnome-tweak-tool' has no installation candidate)

Instead of that you can install the latest gnome-tweaks

sudo apt install gnome-tweaks

and run gnome-tweaks, go to the Adjustment and select Spanned from the drop down menu. Do not forget to use high resolution image to get the best view.

enter image description here

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