Disable Client Side Decorations in Xfce for Open Save Dialog

How to Disable Client Side Decorations in Xfce for Open Save Dialog

Xfce 4.16 is the latest release of this popular desktop environment, which brought many changes to the end user. One of the them is client side decorations (CSD) applied to the built-in tools like Settings and its utilities.


Xfce is my favorite desktop environment in Linux which remains relatively lightweight and yet remains somewhat close to the classic desktop paradigm.

Xfce 4.16 is now a GTK3 software, and no longer includes the ability to be compiled with GTK2. It is also the first version of software that uses client side decorations.

What is client side decorations (CSD)

Client side decorations, or simply CSD, is a technology that allows apps to draw its own window decoration on Linux without involving the window manager for that. Historically, it was a role of the window manager, which is xfwm4 in case of Xfce. In GTK3, this is implemented using the GtkHeaderBar widget.

CSD allows apps to have extra controls to the title bar, such as a settings button, a search box, etc. In Xfce, the Settings app has a search button:

Client Side Decorations In Xfce

Most of its options have already moved to CSD windows by using the GtkHeaderBar widget, but some still haven't, creating inconsistency in the user interface. For example, the Xfce Terminal Settings app doesn't support the new GtkHeaderBar widget yet.

CSD Appearance Inconsistency

While the new headers look fine for settings applets, there is a terrible change in Xfce. The new appearance of the open and save file dialogs is something that many users do not like.

CSD For Open File Save Dialogs

The Cancel button is on the opposite side of the Open/save button, and they are both right in the titlebar. This requires you to perform extra mouse movements, as the file you want to open is usually at the end of the list - where the buttons used to be.

Xfce With Disabled Client Side Decorations In Dialogs
The former look of the open file dialog in Xfce

In short, the new dialogs now look similar to what Gnome 3 has.

Luckily, it is possible to disable CSD for those dialogs. Here's how it can be done.

To Disable Client Side Decorations in Xfce for Open Save Dialog

  1. Open any terminal app of your choice, e.g. Xfce Terminal.
  2. Type or copy-paste the following command: xfconf-query -c xsettings -p /Gtk/DialogsUseHeader -s false.Disable Client Side Decorations In Xfce
  3. You now have the classic open and save file dialogs with CSD disabled. Xfce With Disabled Client Side Decorations In Dialogs

Alternatively, you can use the Settings Editor app. It is included in Xfce by default.

Disable CSD for Xfce dialogs with Settings editor

  1. Open the apps menu. Here is how it looks in the Whisker plugin.
  2. Click on Settings > Settings Editor.Xfce Settings Editor In App Menu
  3. On the left, select xsettings.
  4. On the right, find the option Gtk > DialogsUseHeader.Disable CSD For Xfce Dialogs In Settings Editor
  5. Turn off (uncheck) it to disable the client side decorations feature in Xfce.

You are done!


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Author: Sergey Tkachenko

Sergey Tkachenko is a software developer who started Winaero back in 2011. On this blog, Sergey is writing about everything connected to Microsoft, Windows and popular software. Follow him on Telegram, Twitter, and YouTube.

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