When I use an external monitor, my file selection dialog boxes seem to be huge -- wider than my larger screen. I assume it is a nautilus issue since it happens whether I'm trying to open a file to upload (in firefox) or attach (in thunderbird) or just open it in LibreOffice. See screenshot:


The browser window fills my left-hand monitor, the "open" dialog is wider than one screen, and wider than the window that spawned it. It's huge. It didn't used to be huge.

Is there some way to force dialog windows to be smaller by default? Whenever I try to open/attach/upload a file I have to re-size the finder dialog before I can see what I'm looking at. I don't understand why it is defaulting to such a huge window.


7 Answers 7


I managed to find a solution by figuring out that the dialog modal is always 1440 px wide. So I did grep -r "1440" ~/.config (I also looked in ~/.gnome, ~/.gconf, ~/.gconfd/ but they didn't turn up anything interesting.) I stumbled upon this gem:


Removing that line (and the corresponding GeometryHeight) solved the problem for me.

  • 1
    Thanks a bunch for this. It solved my problem, too. +5 :) Mar 14, 2012 at 6:55
  • This has been bothering me for the age of the known universe, thank you.
    – Insperatus
    Feb 22, 2013 at 8:10

The window size in stored in a dconf key. You should install dconf-editor (it's in the software centre). Then, navigate to org.gtk.settings.file-chooser and adjust the window-size key.

Does this solve your problem?

  • No, it doesn't.
    – Amanda
    Feb 8, 2012 at 21:09
  • 2
    It always automatically resets to the old value.
    – xuhdev
    Apr 11, 2017 at 10:01
  • @xuhdev have you been able to fix this issue? I'm struggling with issue after switching to 17.10 and recently to 18.04 alpha and still have the problem.
    – Moonwalker
    Feb 23, 2018 at 20:13
  • ok, problem resolved by changing both size of file picker and its coordinates x,y. For some reason x,y were negative
    – Moonwalker
    Feb 24, 2018 at 10:39
  • It worked once by setting both window-size and window-position to default, which was -1,-1 for both. But the default values got modified to the last position and size. There doesn't seem to be a way to lock the default values. Setting values in ~/.config/gtk-2.0/gtkfilechooser.ini as suggested in other answers didn't help either. But, one thing I noticed was that the manually modified window size other than (-1, -1) in dconf setting persists across different operations. Otherwise it defaults to a proportion of the largest monitor. Strange ways I say.
    – Sri
    Apr 14, 2021 at 15:11

I solved this by modifying a plugin in compiz-config manager: Windows Manager:Windows Rules:Size Rules:

New-> Size Windows: "type=Dialog", and set the size.


If I just do ALT-{SPACE BAR} and choose Restore it makes the box smaller. Then, next time it will open whatever size you made it.

  • 1
    Awesome! Tried the suggestion and edited the gtkfilechooser.ini file but it didn't work. Also tried the dconf-editor suggestion and it didn't work. This one is simple and fixes the problem! Thank.
    – Sufian
    May 31, 2020 at 17:18

This worked for me: To prevent the settings from resetting you need to add StartupMode=cwd to the ~/.config/gtk-2.0/gtkfilechooser.ini file. Something like below.


I'm not sure, but it looks like the Archlinux guys had a similar issue where the gconf-key /apps/nautilus/preferences/navigation_window_saved_geometry was missing.

Does this solve the problem?

  • This is unrelated. The problem in this question is file selection dialogs, not Nautilus. Furthermore, the referenced GConf key already exists on my machine and is set to the size at which Nautilus windows open (598x318 in my case). And, the referenced page describes a bug existing in 2009, which has presumably been fixed by now. Feb 3, 2012 at 18:42
  • No dice. The key is there and changing it doesn't seem to impact the file selector dialog size.
    – Amanda
    Feb 4, 2012 at 2:18
  • ok. sorry it didn't help. One option less then...
    – root-11
    Feb 4, 2012 at 13:26

Open the file below (no need to terminal; it’s under your own home):


I solved my problem on my netbook by this numbers:


I’m not sure what these values really mean; but they are good and position the file chooser at middle center of your screen.

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