How to reduce height of GTK headerbars?

  • Fedora 32
  • Gnome 3.36

I generally use pretty small font sizes because I have a large screen with a low resolution. With those small fonts, it looks pretty odd that the header bars of GTK apps still have their default height. They just look way too big then…

I know that themes like Yaru can produce smaller header bars but switching away from Adwaita is not a solution. Unfortunately, a custom gtk.css file as described here also does not work.

So what is the way to achieve smaller header bars in a modern GNOME environment?

Thanks in advance,


/* shrink headerbars (don't forget semicolons after each property) */
headerbar {
    min-height: 0px;
    padding-left: 2px; /* same as childrens vertical margins for nicer proportions */
    padding-right: 2px;
    background-color: #2d2d2d;

headerbar entry,
headerbar spinbutton,
headerbar button,
headerbar separator {
    margin-top: 0px; /* same as headerbar side padding for nicer proportions */
    margin-bottom: 0px;
    padding: 1px;

/* shrink ssd titlebars */
.default-decoration {
    min-height: 0; /* let the entry and button drive the titlebar size */
    padding: 0px;
    background-color: #2d2d2d;

.default-decoration .titlebutton {
    min-height: 0px; /* tweak these two props to reduce button size */
    min-width: 0px;

window.ssd headerbar.titlebar {
    padding-top: 3px;
    padding-bottom: 3px;
    min-height: 0;

This is kind of hacky, but works as a quick fix. I’m currently looking into how to patch that into our distros Adwaita-variant as an option.

The downside of this approach is that headerbars have different heights and some of them look weird. You might want to experiment with different values.

Thank you, that basically works!

What I do not really understand is, why you set background-color: #2d2d2d; as this results in black headerbars when a window is not focused. Removing these lines fixes this issue.

After that, some applications e.g. nautilus looks perfectly fine with the new theme. Some, like gnome-terminal, have stretched buttons in the headerbar and the open button in gedit is not vertically centered anymore

will try to tweak it a bit in the future…
Also, if you have an updated version please let me know :slight_smile:

I actually removed those too, I had just copy-pasted that config from some blog.

Unfortunately achieving consistent look like this is not very easy. You would probably have to find a proper nonzero dimensions for the elements.

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