My workplace has me using Pidgin on Windows 7. I am having trouble making it play nicely with my accessibility requirements. Specifically, as a GTK app out of its native habitat it is not following my desktop preferences for larger fonts.

Most importantly I need to increase the font size in the buddy list. I can change the size for a conversation using the built-in preferences, but that doesn't affect the buddy list. It appears (from Googling) that I need to write a custom theme for this. I have no prior GTK experience.

I found this page about writing themes; I followed the instructions there and successfully installed the example they give, which worked. Then I set out to write what I actually want.

Following the model there I created the following theme in a new, parallel directory. This does not load (it's not on the list when I try to change the theme), so apparently there's an error (but I can't identify it):

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<theme type="pidgin buddy list"
       name="Buddy List"
       image="Example_theme_logo.png" >
      <description>Increase font size in buddy list</description>   
    <contact_text font="Verdana [14.0]"/>   
    <online_text font="Verdana [14.0]"/>   
    <away_text font="Verdana [14.0]"/>   
    <offline_text font="Verdana [14.0]"/> 
    <idle_text font="Verdana [14.0]"/>    
    <status_text font="Verdana [14.0]"/> 
    <message_text font="Verdana [14.0]"/>
    <message_nick_said_text font="Verdana [14.0]"/>  

I've tried several things for the value of font based on this documentation:

  • font="14"
  • font="[14]"
  • font="Verdana [14]"
  • above with 14.0

I also tried omitting the image declaration in theme (really, images are the last thing I care about...) in case that was a bad reference somehow, but that didn't change anything.

So I might not be specifying the size correctly, and there might be some other error in this theme that prevents it from loading as well.

2 Answers 2


I realize this question is extremely old (over a year) but I had the same question the other day and after a little bit of testing, figured out the answer.

Instead of this:

<offline_text font="Verdana [14.0]"/> 

You should do this:

<offline_text font="Verdana, 14.0"/> 

A simple change, but it seems to work.

  • Thanks for answering an old question! I do still have the problem and will try this and repost back. Aug 4, 2015 at 13:06
  • There was an additional problem with my theme: I had thought I only needed to specify (in the XML) the elements I was overriding, but it appears you need to include all of them. So even though I only care about the buddy list I needed to include blist and groups, and within the buddy list even though I only care about fonts I also needed to specify placement and background. Aug 13, 2015 at 20:07

Just adding the font size worked for me. For example:

<contact_text color="#000000" font="30"/>

Are other customizations in your theme showing up? Maybe there is an error in your structure so it is ignoring the theme altogether.

Here is an example I pulled from the developer wiki and was able to successfully change the font: https://developer.pidgin.im/attachment/wiki/BuddyListThemes/guifications-blist-theme.xml

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<theme type="pidgin buddy list"
       author="Gary Kramlich &lt;grim@reaperworld.com&gt;"
    <description>Guifications3 color scheme for the buddylist</description>
    <icon_theme name="(Default)"/>
        white:        #FFFFFF
        black:        #000000
        dark blue:    #405580
        light blue:   #BFD5FF
        dark orange:  #FF9F40
        light orange: #FFDFBF
    <blist color="#FFFFFF"/>
    <selected text_color="#000000" background_color="#FFDFBF"/>
        <expanded background="#BFD5FF" text_color="#000000" font=""/>
        <collapsed background="#BFD5FF" text_color="#000000" font=""/>
        <placement status_icon="0" name="1" emblem="2" protocol_icon="3" buddy_icon="4" show_status="1"/>
        <background color="#FFFFFF"/>
        <contact_text color="#000000" font="30"/>
        <online_text color="#000000"/>
        <away_text color="#FFDFBF" font="30"/>
        <offline_text color="#FF9F40"/>
        <idle_text color="#BFD5FF"/>
        <message_text color="#BFD5FF"/>
        <message_nick_said_text color="#888888"/>
        <status_text color="#405580"/>
  • I started with a vanilla installation and didn't (knowingly) make other theme changes. I'll try your example; thanks. Aug 11, 2014 at 23:32

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