I've been using the thin scrollbars for many months now but still haven't gotten used to them. Is there a way to make them look and behave like classic scrollbars, i.e. thick and directly grab-able?

  • Are you referring to overlay scrollbars?
    – RolandiXor
    Jul 6 '15 at 0:49
  • @RolandiXor not sure what you mean by "overlay scrollbars". Btw, about your suggested edit, I thought scrollbars were defined at the window-manager level. Are they application-specific instead (as a general rule, rather than exceptionally)?
    – waldyrious
    Jul 6 '15 at 3:02
  • 1
    OP, can we confirm that you're on Luna and/or that your scrollbars are blue? Jul 6 '15 at 5:10
  • @DanielForé yes. Sorry for not including this detail before, didn't know it was relevant.
    – waldyrious
    Jul 6 '15 at 12:39
  • @waldyrious yes, they are application specific (the window manager plays no role).
    – RolandiXor
    Jul 7 '15 at 5:30

Had same issues and found out a workaround.

For Luna:

  1. Uninstall the scrollbar-overlay-* packages that draw the scrollbar handle when you hover the scrollbars (otherwise the next steps won't have any effect):

    sudo apt-get remove scrollbar-overlay-*
  2. Edit (with superuser permissions), the file:


    and change the following line:

    -GtkRange-slider-width: 3;

    You can increase the scrollbar width from its default value (3) to your needs - for me it is 10. This affects applications like the file manager, the terminal, etc.

    You also need to change the line:

    border-radius: 10px;

    (in the .scrollbar.button { section) to use something like 2px, otherwise the scrollbars will have completely round ends and won't match the applications using gtk2.

  3. Edit (also with superuser permissions), the file:


    and change the line:

    GtkScrollbar      ::slider-width         = 6

    to a value 2 px larger than the used in step 2, which in this case would be 12. This affects applications like Firefox, and makes the scrollbar have the same apparent width as the ones affected by step 2.

For Freya:

You can skip step 1, and in step 2 the file to edit is /usr/share/themes/elementary/gtk-3.0/gtk-widgets.css (rather than scrollbar.css). The rest of the instructions are the same.


  • This is just a workaround and can be overwritten during updates! If anyone has a permanent solution, I would appreciate if he post it here. My "permanent solution" are two patch files and a bash script...
  • If you do not use the default theme "elementary", the paths to the files differ (/usr/share/themes/THEMENAME/gtk...).
  • Since step #2 affects applications like Terminal that have a dark theme, as well as the remaining ones using a lighter theme, you might want to play with the value of background-color when editing scrollbar.css (in the .scrollbar.trough { section). I found that something like background-color: alpha(#FFF, 0.5); (changed from the default background-color: @base_color) provides a good compromise.

Hope this helps.

  • @waldyrious I think this is a difference between Luna and Freya. My instructions refer to Freya. As far as I know the first change mentioned is for (maybe older) programs which use gtk 2.
    – mazienho
    Jul 21 '15 at 18:44
  • 1
    Btw if you think scrollbars are too thin by default, click "affects me too" on the related bug report.
    – quassy
    Aug 9 '15 at 13:59
  • It seems like a great answer, thanks, but for some reason I can't make it work under Loki. Is it any different ?
    – bformet
    Nov 3 '16 at 9:44

You'll need to remove the overlay-scrollbar-* packages from your system and then log out or restart

  • Uh, this just removes the scrollbar handle (which apparently is called Ayatana), but the motivation for my question, as I indicated in the original title, is the scrollbars being too thin (the handle is just a consequence of them not being thick enough to grab comfortably!). I'll re-edit the question and maybe remove the bit about the handle to prevent any confusion.
    – waldyrious
    Jul 8 '15 at 3:42
  • For future reference, this is a prerequisite to be able to then change the scrollbar width, but it doesn't in itself change the scrollbar width (the steps in @mazienho's answer do that).
    – waldyrious
    Aug 17 '15 at 17:40

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