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Restoring the XFWM title bar for XFCE desktop

XFWM title bars

  If you've installed XFCE 4.16, you may or may not have taken notice toward the snazzy new designs of the XFCE desktop applications!

Among the re-design is the introduction of the new header bar / title bars, known as Client-Side Decorations. This is part of a GNOME initiative[1] in separating Operating System and user level controls of the traditional GNU/Linux desktop UI / UX paradigm from the GTK toolkit to favour a modern demographic of brand conscious app developers.[2]

If you would like to restore the XFCE Window Manager title bars for your desktop applications, then follow along!

Steps for XFCE applications

Step 1

  • XUbuntu:

    You can install the the libxfce4ui-nocsd[3] fork which primarily affects XFCE applications.

    For Ubuntu 20.04 and 21.10 user that installed XFCE 4.16 from the XUbuntu staging PPA, you can install libxfce4ui-nocsd from the very same archive. I have yet to see if this package will make its way to the XUbuntu 21.04 release as of writing this guide.

    sudo apt install libxfce4ui-nocsd-2-0

  • Debian:

    For those of you running Debian or a Debian based system, you will likely have to build libxfce4ui-nocsd for yourself. I recommend following the instructions from the GitHub repository.

  • Arch:

    For Arch platforms, libxfce4ui-nocsd is available in the AUR.

    pacman -S libxfce4ui-nocsd

Step 2

  • The libxfce4ui-nocsd library will only remove the CSD header bars for particular XFCE applications that use the XfceTitledDialog class. You can replace the header bars from any application that use GTK3 Dialogs by setting the "DialogsUseHeader" option to false from xfconf.

    Open a terminal and run the following command:

    xfconf-query -c xsettings -p /Gtk/DialogsUseHeader -s false


XFCE Settings Manager image


XFCE Settings Manager image
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Steps for other non-XFCE applications

  For non-XFCE GTK based applications you can use gtk3-nocsd[4] to restore the titlebar for most applications that attempt to replace it for their client-side header bars.

Step 1

  • Debian based platforms:

    The gtk3-nocsd package is available for most Debian based systems, such as Ubuntu or Devuan.

    sudo apt install gtk3-nocsd

  • Arch based platforms:

    I recommend installing the git version since it appears to be the most active version of the package on the AUR.

    pacman -S gtk3-nocsd-git

Step 2

Reboot your system after installing gtk3-nocsd.

You should notice most GTK3 applications with your window managers title bar restored.


FeedReader image


FeedReader image

Right-click the image and select View Image to see in full resolution.


  I don't actually mind these header bars. Sure, I agree that it breaks the consistency with the rest of your non-GNOME-ified applications, but often it's really no more different than a toolbar.

At some point the many and varied Linux desktop themes and customizations we take for granted today (icons included) will eventually become client-side only, meaning that it will be determined by each application itself with only the most rudimentary of customizability and controls. While this will eventually come to pass, for now we can still enjoy our Personal Computers as they are.






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Last modified date: 2021-02-22

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