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Way back from Windows 3.x days to the latest 64bit Windows 7 (classic/standard theme).. there is a way to make the window edge border wider then 1 pixel... I often use 3 to 5 pixel to make it easy to grab on hi-resolutions displays and hi DPI monitors.

There doesn't seem to be an easy or obvious way to do this with the Gnome X-Windowing system?

Does any one know how?

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First find your current theme:

gsettings get org.gnome.desktop.interface gtk-theme

Then edit the xml properties file /usr/share/themes/"ThemeNameFromPrevStep"/metacity-1/metacity-theme-1.xml. Change width properties from 1 to 3 or 5 etc.

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For the Ambiance theme on Ubuntu 11.04, the diff below fattens up the borders.

I assume you can apply a similar diff to other themes.

--- /usr/share/themes/Ambiance/metacity-1/metacity-theme-1.xml.1    2011-07-01 22:09:31.595731506 +1000
+++ /usr/share/themes/Ambiance/metacity-1/metacity-theme-1.xml  2011-07-02 12:02:35.077593280 +1000
@@ -11,9 +11,9 @@

 <!-- General window layout -->
 <frame_geometry name="frame_geometry_normal" title_scale="medium" rounded_top_left="true" rounded_top_right="true"  rounded_bottom_left="false" rounded_bottom_right="false">
-   <distance name="left_width" value="1"/>
+   <distance name="left_width" value="3"/>
-   <distance name="right_width" value="1"/>
+   <distance name="right_width" value="3"/>
-   <distance name="bottom_height" value="1"/>
+   <distance name="bottom_height" value="3"/>
    <distance name="left_titlebar_edge" value="10"/>
    <distance name="right_titlebar_edge" value="10"/>
    <distance name="button_width" value="18"/>
@@ -198,16 +198,12 @@
 <!-- Window Frames -->

 <draw_ops name="draw_frame">
-    <rectangle color="shade/#3c3b37/0.7" x="0" y="0" width="width" height="height" filled="true"/>
-    <gradient type="vertical" x="0" y="0" width="width" height="60">
-        <color value="shade/#3c3b37/1.2" />
-        <color value="shade/#3c3b37/0.7" />
-    </gradient>
+    <rectangle color="#3c3b37" x="0" y="0" width="width" height="height" filled="true"/>

 <!-- bottom border -->
 <draw_ops name="bottom_edge">
-   <line color="shade/#3c3b37/0.7" x1="0" x2="width" y1="height-1" y2="height-1"/>
+    <rectangle color="#3c3b37" x="0" y="0" width="width" height="height" filled="true"/>

 <draw_ops name="border">
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The Dust theme has very large left and right borders:

dust theme

It is probably already installed; try selecting it in appearance settings.

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But how do I change the window-edge pixel-width on any theme? I guess I need to find and read the docs on theme settings files.. if I can find the docs??? – Heston T. Holtmann Jun 16 '10 at 20:04
up vote 0 down vote accepted

Using a google site search:

Google: "theme create"

I found the info I was looking for on the official Gnome site in the Administrator documentation section:

The Intro Gnome docs URL that talks about creating your own or modifying existing theme settings:

And the detailed settings file docs can be found in here some where.

The default installed Gnome themes are found here on a Gnome install: /usr/share/themes/theme-name

[13:07:40 hholtmann@v-00000018:/usr/share/themes]
$ ls
AgingGorilla/  ClearlooksClassic/  Dust/       HighContrastInverse/            HumanLogin/  Mist/                 Redmond/
Atlanta/       Crux/               Dust Sand/  HighContrastLargePrintInverse/  Industrial/  New Wave/             Simple/
Bright/        DarkRoom/           Emacs/      Human/                          Inverted/    New Wave Dark Menus/  ThinIce/
Clearlooks/    Default/            Esco/       Human-Clearlooks/               Metabox/     Raleigh/

and inside each theme folder there is the following structure:

[13:07:41 hholtmann@v-00000018:/usr/share/themes]
$ tree Clearlooks
|-- gtk-2.0
|   `-- gtkrc
|-- index.theme
`-- metacity-1
    `-- metacity-theme-1.xml

All the details theme settings such as border and edge widths are in the "gtkrc" file:

Every Gnome theme object can reference pre-defined style blocks with attributes.

Most styles have an xthickness and ythickness value defaulting to = 1

style "default" {
    xthickness = 1
    ythickness = 1

Changing the x/ythickness values can change the pixel thickeness of all objects.

This blog post also provides an example of creating a new theme and changing it.

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