Clearlooks Compact Gnome Theme

I have been using Ubuntu for quite a while now, but one thing I really dislike is that all the themes are huge space wasters compared to Windows XP. This finally got me angry enough to create a customized version of the Clearlooks theme that tries to be very compact but still maintain its beautiful look. I like the result quite a lot, I have been using this theme for more than two weeks now and it works great. It is especially nice for intense applications like Eclipse.

UPDATE: Human Compact Theme for Ubuntu 8.10 (Intrepid Ibex) is available!

Comparison

Move your mouse over the image to see how the dialog looks like with clearlooks-compact. The buttons and spacing are smaller, which results in much more visible space for the actual content.

 

More Screenshots

Here are some more screenshots that I have taken with Clearlooks Compact enabled. Especially the Eclipse shot is great, there the theme really shines. It is even more compact than the Windows XP look.

Gnome Calculator Gnome File Selector Eclipse with Compact Theme Tracker Search Tool

If you are curious, I have used Tahoma, size 9 for the application font, and the MiscFixed for the sourcecode.

Download & Installation

Installation is extremely simple, in Ubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy Gibbon) you can do it this way:

  1. Click System > Preferences > Appearance.
  2. Drag & drop the link ClearlooksCompact-1.5.tar.bz2 into the Appearence window.

Beware that this is just definition of the Clearlooks control spacings. That means you have to have the clearlooks engine installed (which you most likely have, it is the default theme of Ubuntu). To change back, click on the currently active Theme, choose “Customize”, and select other controls instead of “Clearlooks Compact”.

History

I will regularly update this page when I update the theme with a new screenshot and the development history:

April 9th, 2009
Version 1.5: a bit smaller checkbox + selection box, less blurry and smaller progress bar.
April 5th, 2009
Version 1.4: added LGPL, index.theme, version number.
April 11th, 2008
Version 1.3: Small panel menu
November 11th, 2007
Version 1.2: Major update: Smaller handlers sizes, smaller scrollbars, no scrollbar spacing, less overall padding, and some more.
November 7th, 2007
Version 1.1: Now even more compact by reducing the default icon size to 16×16 pixels.
November 4th, 2007
Version 1.0: First release of Clearlooks Compact.

98 Comments on "Clearlooks Compact Gnome Theme"

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[…] themes Human Compact and Clearlooks Compact have been quite a success, and I got several to make a tutorial on how to create such a compact […]

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[…] GTK: Clearlooks Compact Iconos: Ubuntu Studio (Disponibles en los repositorios, solo ejecuten sudo apt-get install […]

Sven Dirks
Guest
7 years 9 months ago

Hi,

thanks for the good work, it made my netbook far more useable!

greetings from Berlin

Sven

test
Guest
test
7 years 9 months ago

The idea is nice, but sometimes your theme goes too far and makes icons too small (using a GUI should not be aiming practice) and looking very crowded and ugly. We need a better compromise!

Martin Ankerl
Guest
7 years 9 months ago

Hi test, Human Compact 8.10 is available in two version, one with small icons and one with normal icons.

Dan
Guest
Dan
7 years 8 months ago

Nice work! I like it.

Erwin
Guest
Erwin
7 years 7 months ago

Martin – thanks! Just installed it on Ubuntu 8.10 UNR running on an Acer Aspire One. The more compact layout just gives a little extra room. Erwin

glenn
Guest
7 years 6 months ago

Nice work- looks great!

Lembas
Guest
Lembas
7 years 6 months ago

Nice work, indeed.

There is a small problem with context menu: when the right mouse button is pressed and kept, we can see the first position of the menu highlighted. Normally, I used click-and-release approach, so many times the first menu position is selected unconsciously.

How can I change this behavior? Where to edit in gtkrc?

Sindre Pedersen Bjørdal
Guest
Sindre Pedersen Bjørdal
7 years 4 months ago
Nice theme, I love it. Couple of small problems though: 1. Checkboxes are too big IMO, this is a matter of taste, but when browsing the web using epiphany or some other browser which uses the native widgets, checkboxes size 14 tends to break the smooth compact overall look. I’ve tested using both size 12 and size 10 checkboxes, and size 10 is my favorite. 2. Progessbars look blurry. Due to the fact that the completed part of the progressbar doesn’t have the black outline that the non-completed parts have, thee progressbar end up looking a bit blurry. I’ve been… Read more »
Martin Ankerl
Guest
7 years 4 months ago

thanks Sindre, both of it in version 1.5. Progress bar is now sharp again and a bit smaller, checkboxes are smaller too.

napster
Guest
napster
7 years 4 months ago

martin the problem you’ve solved was certainly biting me on linux desktop. nice work!. i really appreciate it. but i think you can take it further.

Martin Ankerl
Guest
7 years 4 months ago

Hi napster, thanks! I try to keep the original clearlooks look as much as possible, so sometimes I have to be one or two pixels bigger than possible so that it still looks as it should.

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[…] Get Ubuntu Human Compact / Clearlooks Compact theme […]

ferdinand
Guest
ferdinand
7 years 4 months ago

this them should become standard distribution – especially for netbooks !!!!
I am working with OpenERP – impreoves everything a lot
thank you !!!

Ray
Guest
Ray
7 years 3 months ago

is it possible to decrease the spacing between the Name and Save in Folder boxes in your example window?

Thiago Borges
Guest
Thiago Borges
7 years 2 months ago

Whow! I’m searching for that a long time ago! Thanks for the theme. Eclipse is breathing now!

walter
Guest
walter
7 years 1 month ago

It’s great and just what I’m looking for.

LostinSpacetime
Guest
LostinSpacetime
7 years 28 days ago

Hello.. on the screenshot it looks like the icon size in the sidebar and listview of nautilus is the same. How is that possible? I would like that but when changing the zoom level, the text size is changed as well.

RonIn
Guest
7 years 22 days ago

Hi Martin I’m amazed by how better my XFCE enviroment looks with your theme… there is maybe the possibility that you make a tutorial or at least some pointers in how to reduce the themes…

I’m asking because there isn’t any alternative on dark themes with Compact layouts so maybe i’ll have to make some tweaks to make them look as good as your theme… Thanks for the great work…

Chris
Guest
Chris
7 years 6 days ago

Awesome, I wish I found this years ago! Thanks for sharing.

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cornelius
Guest
cornelius
6 years 9 months ago

Nice! Thanks a lot for sharing.

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[…] and is addressed by Martin Ankerl’s compact themes, improving classical GTK themes such as Clearlooks Compact and Human Compact. This is an area where users of all platforms can benefit! The compact theme […]

passenger
Guest
passenger
6 years 7 months ago

Thanks a lot. This huge space wasting in Gnome really bothers me, so I once also had my customized .gtkrc-2.0 but it was 2 years ago and I dont remember what exactly I did 🙂
Windows is real space saver so Im interested if there is some way to compact it even more like on Windows, by shrinking the spacing between items in list box (and derived)?

Arkadius
Guest
Arkadius
6 years 5 months ago

Thanks a lot, great job. Now I have more space on my tiny laptop screen 😉

Jak
Guest
6 years 5 months ago

Excellent work.

Combined with dropping fonts from 10 to 8 gives a very useable system on 15 inch/1024 screen.

Thanks for your efforts.

Stephan Sokolow
Guest
6 years 4 months ago

Great theme, but if it’s not too much trouble, could you save me some time by pointing me to the line determining vertical padding on context menu items? I need to add a couple of pixels back so I spend less time accidentally choosing “Search Google for…” when I mean “Copy” in Chromium.

Stephan Sokolow
Guest
6 years 4 months ago

I need to stop being so impulsive when I’m tired. I forgot to mention that this theme plus performance improvements in recent GTK+ Open/Save dialogs are making me reevaluate my decision to run an almost pure KDE desktop. (KDE 3.5 was a joy. KDE 4… not so much.)

xoptics
Guest
xoptics
6 years 2 months ago

Big thanks for this helpful theme 😀

Martin
Guest
Martin
6 years 2 months ago

Hey there Martin, another Martin here 🙂

I’d just like you to know how much I appreciate your theme. I use it on all my boxes all the time.

Thank you again!

cm
Guest
cm
6 years 1 month ago

Thanks , It work on my ubuntu10 and eclipse!!

Edi
Guest
Edi
5 years 8 months ago

wow, Thanks a lot man,

It is so easy to install and is a huge improvement to eclipse.

Keep on the good work.

Roberto
Guest
Roberto
5 years 5 months ago

Awesome! This is exactly what I was looking for!

Joe
Guest
Joe
5 years 4 months ago

Any updates on how to do this on Ubuntu 10.04 with Eclipse Helios 20100617-1415 ?

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[…] location of the theme you wish to use Eclipse with which should end with gtk-2.0/gtkrc.  I use the clearlooks compact theme for this as it great for working in eclipse with,  (If anyone can correct the pixmap images […]

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[…] location of the theme you wish to use Eclipse with which should end with gtk-2.0/gtkrc. I use the clearlooks compact theme for this as it great for working in eclipse with, (If anyone can correct the pixmap images in […]

Miro Hron?ok
Guest
5 years 1 month ago

Hi, thank you for your hard work. Any chance for a GTK3 theme?

Orz
Guest
Orz
4 years 9 months ago

bzip2: (stdin) is not a bzip2 file.
tar: Child returned status 2
tar: Error is not recoverable: exiting now

Oops!

William Ferreira
Guest
William Ferreira
4 years 6 months ago

i wanna suggest you to increase left and right padding values for buttons (i don’t know if affects other controls) to make text more away form the border like cancel button does in this picture:
http://martin.ankerl.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/01/clearlooks-compact.png?9d7bd4

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dede
Guest
dede
4 years 26 days ago

Yes i totally agree with your work. I came to a point that i felt like im choked, seeing all this waste of space, and seeing what’s left to user!!
The worst thing i’ve seen was eMule, under default theme i think, and activating all the research option: well the result is that the search result area was smaller than the search option pane fully developped.
From then i started to look for every wasted square millimeter, and finally i was only seeing that, and there’s a lot!!!!!!!!!!! — freaking —
Thx

Darren Shepard
Guest
Darren Shepard
4 years 22 days ago

Thanks for this, works really nice on my x220 debian gnome2 system. I noticed one thing that was kind of funny though… Some of my panel icons show as tiny and the others are regular size. Anyone else have this problem?

Here’s a screenshot:

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[…] Link to information on Clearlooks compact […]

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[…] Link to information on Clearlooks compact […]

Bernhard
Guest
Bernhard
2 years 1 day ago

Thanks alot. It’s great for the little screen of my X200 laptop.

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[…] The GTK themes tend to have a lot of padding. A theme like Clearlooks compact gives Eclipse a whole new look. See here, for instance: http://martin.ankerl.com/2007/11/04/clearlooks-compact-gnome-theme/ […]

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