Configuring GTK/Gnome toolbar icon sizes and labels (Ubuntu 12.10+ and more)

One major annoyance (first-world, clearly) for me having upgraded to Ubuntu 12.10 is that my GTK toolbar icons are very large (32x32 pixels) and have labels on them. This takes up a decent amount of screen real estate in applications like gedit, Rhythmbox, and many others — effectively anything that’s using GTK. What’s worse, it looks like the latest Ubuntu (Quantal Quetzal) now is adding visual padding/spacing around the buttons. I don’t like this at all and prefer my buttons to be tiny and without labels.

As per the post at, the issue was previously solved by configuring the setting within a dconf setting, however this hasn’t applied since 11.10.

However, it is possible to include the following in your /etc/gtk-3.0/settings.ini file to make your icons small and beautiful again:

gtk-icon-sizes = panel-menu=16,16:gtk-large-toolbar=16,16

Start a GTK application like gedit and notice the difference.

To change the ‘style’ of the buttons on the toolbars (labels and icons appearance), you’ll need to launch (and install, if necessary) dconf-editor and modify the org.gnome.desktop.interface.toolbar-style setting.

Once the editor is open, then traverse the settings schema tree on the left-hand side until you find the setting. Once you’ve found it, click onto its value and choose another option — if you’ve left your GTK application open, the style will change immediately. Pick the best one that suits you. I prefer ‘icons’ to just have the icons themselves, without labels (note that text appears in a tooltip anyway).

Note that not all GTK applications will adhere to these options — it is possible for them to override the global settings (sigh, yes Rhythmbox, that’s seemingly you).

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