This is a problem I have been having recently. My screen size has a pretty high pixel density and, as a result, all of GIMP's icons are criminally small and very difficult to look at.

I've tried searching for ways to increase the screen size but all that shows up is how to scale images. Thing is I know how to change the image DPI but I want to know how to change the actual program's DPI, so that the icons are better suited to my computer screen.

  • 1
    This is more suitable for the superuser.com SE - unless you want to help us to design bigger icons, of course :) Oct 22, 2016 at 18:10
  • I'm sorry, I assumed this would be appropriate for this Stack Exchange. what is superuser.com SE all about? Oct 22, 2016 at 19:31
  • About the usage of software - which is what this question is about. Oct 23, 2016 at 9:31
  • As for the text size, this worked for me: gimp-forum.net/… In my case on Linux, gtkrc is located at ~/.config/GIMP/2.10/gtkrc. Sep 4, 2021 at 20:08
  • Note Gimp 2.99 (in beta) fixes many issues with HiDPI setups.
    – Flimm
    Mar 23, 2022 at 13:19

4 Answers 4


A simple solution for GIMP 2.10 (both under Linux and Windows):

  1. Go to "Edit → Preferences".

  2. In the Preferences dialog, go to "Interface → Icon Theme".

  3. From the dropdown at the bottom, choose "Use icon size from the theme" or "Custom icon size" (and in the latter case, choose your icon size with the slider below that).

The problem you describe happens because by default it's "Guess icon size from resolution", which considers only a resolution in the sense of "1920×1080 px" or the like, and not the physical or configured pixel density (DPI value) of the display. Worse, in a multi-screen setup it only considers the combined resolution, which is the resolution of a virtual screen of which each physical screens shows a certain part.

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    This only applies to a small set of UI elements. For example, this setting appears to have no impact on the size of icons for brush shape and hardness or the text, check boxes, and other controls for modifying tool options. Apr 7, 2021 at 2:00

I have gimp 2.8 on Windows 10 and this is what solved the small tool icons problem for me: open This PC > Local Disc (C:) > Program Files > GIMP 2 > bin, right click on gimp-2.8, open Properties, click on Compatibility. On the settings options select: Override high DPI scaling behaviour. Scaling performed by, scroll and select System, Apply, OK

  • 2
    Yes, but that means that everything is bigger, including selection lines and such?
    – xenoid
    Feb 15, 2018 at 9:06
  • 1
    This kind defeats the whope point of having a High-DPI monitor for image manipulation though.
    – FrankyBoy
    May 19, 2018 at 12:35
  • 2
    Having appropriately-sized UI elements does not defeat the point of a high-DPI screen. If your system is scaling up UI elements too much in this program, it is probably doing the same in other programs, and you need to change the scaling globally. Alternative solutions that increase just the size of tool icons leave many other elements unusably tiny. This is the only solution I have seen that works to make GIMP usable on my screens. Apr 7, 2021 at 2:11
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    I don't fully understand what changing "scaling performed by" to "system" does, but I stumbled upon this Q/A while trying to figure out why the vanilla gimp UI was so blurry on my normal dpi (32 inch 2k) monitor. I desperately did what this answer says, and it actually did not change the size of the ui elements (which isn't what I wanted) but it completely fixed all of the problems I had with the resolution of the gimp editor. Apr 14, 2022 at 0:41

The size of the tool icons (brush, move, selection etc) of GIMP's UI can be configured in the gtkrc file.
Try find this line in gtkrc file:

GimpToolPalette::tool-icon-size   = <size>

Where <size> is an written identifier (instead of a number like you might expect), with names like

  • menu
  • button
  • large-toolbar

I personally set my icon sizes to button which is bigger than the default (which I think is menu).
I think large-toolbar is the biggest.

So maybe try something like changing the line to:

GimpToolPalette::tool-icon-size = large-toolbar
  • I tried to find the GimpToolPalette section in this custom theme I downloaded but it doesn't seem to be there. :o Oct 23, 2016 at 9:25
  • @EmeraldEelEntertainment GIMP uses cascading config files where entries in your user gtkrc will override those in the system GIMP gtkrc so just try pasting the line into your gtkrc and see if that increases the icon size Oct 23, 2016 at 9:32
  • I copied and pasted the line into the gtkrc file of the theme I downloaded, and change it to button. I reloaded Gimp but nothing has changed. :( Oct 23, 2016 at 10:56
  • @EmeraldEelEntertainment what about using large-toolbar? Oct 23, 2016 at 10:58
  • I will give that shot and see what happens. Oct 23, 2016 at 13:05

You can use Kevin Payne's themes with big icons: these are available and discussed here.

  • I'll give it a shot! I was curious to ask because I used a custom flat icon theme. Oct 23, 2016 at 9:21
  • Okay, I downloaded and applied the theme; the text us much clearer but the icons haven't changed in size too much. Oct 23, 2016 at 9:39

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