Another Scroll bar width question

Pure/OS and Ubuntu and … have changed a lot so the number of results on my query are as old a dirt and should be archived.

How might I widen the scroll bars in PureOS? It’s a game of tag just to get the mouse point dead on that itty-bitty kewl scrollbar. Why it’s made to small is beyond me.

I wouldn’t bother ya’all but I’ve spent a lot of time searching for a answer - I even Googled it! Now I need a shower :slight_smile:


1 Like

In .config, look for, or create a gtk-3.0 directory. Inside that, use your text editor to create gtk-css and paste the following inside it. Change the “15px” to whatever you like.

scrollbar slider {
    /* Size of the slider */
    min-width: 15px;
    min-height: 15px;
    border-radius: 16px;

    /* Padding around the slider */
    border: 2px solid transparent;

Edit: You can do other optimizations, too: vertical vs. horizontal tweaks, colors, size of scrollbar button, etc.


I’m sure it will work, as son as I figure out why I need permission to save to my own computer.


I should have mentioned that you can accomplish this in the terminal as well:

1 Like

BTW widening the scroll bar may work on some things but not all. Suspect if it is not gtk specific.

1 Like

I don’t know why, but most programs in Linux have these very narrow scroll bars with an arrow on each end. It’s almost like the Linux GUI designer just couldn’t stand to allow anything to look the same way it looks in Windows.

But there is always utility to think about too. The common mousetrap that is most commonly used everywhere world-wide, was invented well over one-hundred years ago. It works well. Nothing seems to have worked better at a reasonable price since then. So why change it? Actually, I think that Microsoft stole their Desktop/GUI environment concept from Apple, who stole it from Xerox. I don’t understand why some developers can’t just use what works best instead of leaving poorly-designed features like these super-narrow scrollbars in an OS for several decades after it has proven to be inferior to the Microsoft or Apple alternatives.

1 Like

[Edited after reading excellent comments!]

@Sharon & @StevenR : Under PureOS 9, the default scrollbar width in KDE applications is wider than in GNOME applications. In Okular, you can even turn the scrollbars off and still scroll because the entire page becomes a full-width scrollbar that you can scroll with a scroll wheel or click and drag.

When mouse scroll wheels, trackballs, the IBM Thinkpad joy button, and trackpads arrived, scrolling became possible without dragging on a scrollbar. Someone needs to do a study of what was going on in GUI design to see when scrollbars started to get narrower. I first noticed narrow scrollbars on Apple iPods, where the scrollbar just gave visual feedback. There was no mouse or touch capability. You only had the scroll wheel. Then, on Apple iOS touchscreens (iPhone & iPad), your finger became the mouse and you swipe to scroll. The scroll bars are invisible until you start swiping, then they appear and serve as visual feedback, then they disappear after the scrolling stops. No doubt some people don’t like that GUI design, and with Apple you can’t change it. The beauty of GNU/Linux is that you can change anything. Often the trick is just finding out where the config files are for whatever you want to configure.

You can click on and use skinny scrollbars, but doing that is so much slower than spinning a scroll wheel unless you have a long web page, text file, PDF or other document. In that case, scrolling with a scroll wheel takes longer than simply clicking on the scrollbar. It depends on your use case. With a scroll wheel you have a much larger target: the entire window of your application. If you are sequentially reading something, and scrolling slowly as you read, you usually don’t need to click the scrollbar. If you’re editing code, you do often need to go back and forth in files, so then the scrollbar might be faster. We also have the Home and End keys (Ctrl-Home and Ctrl-End in Kate) to instantly go to the top and bottom of the page, faster than any clicking.

The Logitech M325 Wireless Mouse is $13, but its scrollwheel doesn’t have as nice a feel as the $16 Logitech M185 Wireless Mouse, whose scroll wheel has detents that make for more precise control. So far all the Logitech stuff works out of the box with PureOS on a Librem 15v3, Librem 15v4, and Librem Mini v1.

By the way, @amarok & @tracy , I tested the ~/.config/gtk-3.0/gtk.css file, and it doesn’t affect KDE programs like KMyMoney, Kate, and Okular. Cool to know about that customization option, though.

I use the mouse (or trackpad) and scrollbar not only for scrolling a few lines at a time with the wheel, but also for clicking to a certain point in a page. It comes in handy for jumping far up or far down in ultra-long pages. Anything that helps me avoid carpal tunnel problems, and also helps me fine-tune navigation is a good thing. I’ve never thought of the scrollbar as just a visual cue, so I want it to be easy to use. :slight_smile:

P.S. Example of a visual cue that seems to have died a rapid death, despite its utility: skeuomorphicly designed “buttons.” :rofl:

Books and 500-pages-long data sheets want a word with you :stuck_out_tongue: Unless you mean that the thinness makes that difficult. That would probably bump it to 2000 pages.



Do the Devs or admins of this forum program know that if someone leaves a link, and people click the link, it is only counted if the people open the link in the same window they are in? I opened them in a new tab, and the count doesn’t change. Make that 3 clicks and hidden 4th for your link.


When there is a scroll bar; it’s there for a reason other than as a useless visual skinny-mini ‘catch-me-if-you-can’ game. I get enough of that playing Google’s reCaptcha puzzles.

If the Devs for Ubi, Pop, Pure, and so on don’t want us to use a scroll bar, they should just remove it, otherwise stop being so self-centered using design by not-looking-like-the-other-guy. Come to think of it, if we want to see Linux -stuff- really take off, it wouldn’t be by making it so different and cumbersome that the learning curve is harder than it needs be.

There should be no shame in looking like the other guys.


P.S. Example of a visual cue that seems to have died a rapid death, despite its utility: skeuomorphicly designed “buttons.”

Reads like MSM (AKA tabloids) since it (scroll bar) hasn’t died a rapid death.

It worked, why did they have to fix it? That’s M$ job!


1 Like

Agreed. I just discovered that Okular has a setting that lets you completely turn off the scrollbars. The entire page becomes the scrollbar. Great idea. I don’t have my Librem 5 yet to see how well Okular works on a phone.

BTW, I updated my original post.

Have you tried the configuration changes that @amarok showed? Then you can make at least the GNOME applications have the scrollbar width that you desire. KDE applications might also have a similar setting, but I have not checked. One of the beauties of GNU/Linux is that you can change anything. Of course, it’s easier if it’s a GUI setting or a config file. Apple and Micro$oft do not allow you to change many things.

1 Like

Agreed. With a long page, clicking the scrollbar is far faster than madly scrolling a wheel and tiring your scrolling finger.

Edited my original post to reflect this.

I tested Okular a while back: List of Apps that fit and function well [Post them here.]

Yes, I have tried, but I need permission to access the folder. Planning on looking that up later today.

edited to correct bug in post program.

It’s easier to do in the terminal (because sudo). Just follow the instructions in the link I posted.

Or you can open .config as administrator (right-click on the folder and choose that option) from your file manager. Then you should be able to save the css file. Be extremely careful, of course.

Curiosity Question: Can one drag the screen down to the bottom of the screen, and while cursor sites at bottom, screen continues to scroll? Or, does one need to scroll the page down, move cursor to top, move down, and repeat? The finger on the mouse scroll can only scroll what the finger can do and finger needs to lift, press, drag again and again… I often end up with a sore finger and have to start using my middle finger and heavy traffic already made it sore.

OPINION: I find dragging the scroll bar (not using the mouse scroll) will take me from the top of any page to the bottom without lifting the mouse. The bar seems to accommodate any page height. Too, I can hold the scroll bar at the bottom and it will continue to scroll without lifting the finger.

I think that is where the new ‘trend’ is going - to mimic a cell-for-prisoners :slight_smile: Some Devs obviously think cells are the only thing left. We went from tiny desktop screens at dumb terminals, to bigger and better 60" screens. Computers got bigger and faster and along come leashes disguised as phones with micro-screens. Swipe made touchscreens easier to use. Now, the kids that were born with a IP address develop what they know and love - no matter what size it is.
Swiping a small, tiny, screen will move more than a swipe with a mouse on a 30" monitor.

Lastly, the problem I see with new -stuff-, is that it’s all about kiddie-kewl with logic, ease of use, and short learning curve last on the priority list. Software Devs are running out of productivity, speed, and bling and so major upgrades usually just address known bugs, and change the icons, move them around, make text gigantic, adhere WordPress’s latest fads and up sell their product - again. Like a clothing store. Same clothes, they just move departments around, new signage, change the lighting, and it’s like a new store. Same dress, same people, same product - just a new front.

I lol’d at this :slight_smile: Must be ipv6 though.

I think I agree with the general sentiment, people get used to small devices, and when they grow up, they try to use the same UI on the big devices, even if big devices already figured it out before. As an oldster, I find it exhausting, limiting, and inconvenient.

The point about the store is also important. Documents and connections are taking a back seat to branding. But that’s not a matter of form factors but commercialization I think.

I’ve used this analogy before, but what the linux GUI designers often do is like if a new car designer put the steering wheel of a car in the back seat, right behind a headrest. “We can’t make it look like a Ford or Chevy. Our look needs to be unique”. So they do something stupid to get that unique look by creating stupid features to replace valuable features that they remove, or just by removing a valuable feature and not replacing it at all.

Another stupid move was to remove the Desktop in some linux distros. You can usually find a way to get the Desktop back by finding and installing extensions. But they shouldn’t have removed such a valuable feature in the first place. Next up, square wheels for that car. “Nobody has ever done that before. It’s a new look… anything to be unique and different from the other guy.”

The last thing the over-fourty group needs these days are super-narrow scroll bars.