Fix Blurry Icons in Ubuntu



If you’ve recently tweaked the appearance of your Ubuntu installation, and selected anything other than the default Human theme, chances are that you may find some of your icons blurry. This is because the Human theme uses 24×24 icons and (probably) all others use 22×22. Therefore, choosing anything other than Human theme would compress all remaining icons on the main menu that has no corresponding icon from the newly selected theme, making them blurry.

For example, the following image has been taken after choosing the Glossy theme:

Blurry Icons
Note the icons for Keyring Manager and Network (highlighted)

If you don’t like the Human theme, but would like to preserve the crisp icons, you have to create a GTK+ 2 settings file. Do the following steps on a per-user basis:

  1. Open your favorite text editor, and create a text file ~/.gtkrc-2.0.[1]
  2. Place the line, gtk-icon-sizes = "panel-menu=24,24".
  3. Save and exit.
  4. Log off and re-log onto your account.

But, you may want to share the crisp icons for other users, too. So, you might as well hack into the theme file. The following steps would tell you how:

  1. Open a terminal application.[2]
  2. Type in, sudo <text editor command> /usr/share/themes/<theme directory>/gtk-2.0/gtkrc.[3]
  3. Type in your password for superuser status.
  4. Place the line, gtk-icon-sizes = "panel-menu=24,24" on any line outside any brackets.
  5. Save and exit.
  6. Log off and re-log onto your account.

The menus would then use 24×24-pixel icons that retains the original crisp.

Crisp Icons
Note the icons for Keyring Manager and Network (highlighted)

I’ve used more than a couple searches and mailing list pages to figure this out, but the most unambiguous workaround source surprisingly comes from the section on the Ubuntu bug tracker on Launchpad.


  1. ^ where ~ points to your home directory
  2. ^ click on: Main Menu » Applications » Accessories » Terminal
  3. ^ for example: sudo nano /usr/share/themes/Glossy/gtk-2.0/gtkrc to edit the Glossy theme on nano


I haven’t actually tried the per-user setting file, but the system-wide theme hack worked for me, definitely. I just included it according to the instructions I’ve read for those who cannot acquire a superuser status on their systems, thus, the permission to edit the theme files.


3 responses to “Fix Blurry Icons in Ubuntu”

  1. […] Read about the workaround on my blog. […]

  2. […] Great tip on how to fix blurry icons in Ubuntu. […]

  3. You, Sir, are a genious.