How To Disable GNOME's Overlay Scrollbars (Have The Scrollbars Permanently Visible)

This article explains how to disable GNOME's overlay scrollbars, so that the scrollbars are always visible.

GNOME/GTK applications use overlay scrollbars by default in order to maximize screen real estate. For most applications (there are some exceptions, like GNOME Terminal which has the scrollbar permanently visible), the scrollbars are hidden by default, being partially shown when the pointer is moved, and being completely visible only when placing the mouse near the scrollbar.

Permanently visible scrollbar on GNOME 3.34

Permanently visible scrollbars on GNOME 3.34 (or newer)

Gnome 3.34 Dconf Editor overlay scrollbars settings

GNOME 3.34, released last Thursday, includes a new hidden option that makes it easy to always show the full scrollbars. Open Dconf Editor, navigate to org / gnome / desktop / interface and set overlay-scrolling to false to have the scrollbars be permanently visible.

You can achieve the same thing by using this command:

gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.interface overlay-scrolling false

You'll need to restart each GTK3 application that you had running to make it use permanently visible scrollbars. Or restart your session (logout/login).

Want to undo this change and use the default GNOME/GTK scrollbar behavior? Use either Dconf Editor as already explained, but set overlay-scrolling to true (or default), or use this command:

gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.interface overlay-scrolling true

You might also like: How To Completely Disable Tracker, GNOME's File Indexing And Search Tool

Disable The GNOME / GTK overlay scrollbars with GNOME versions older than 3.34

To disable the overlay scrollbars on GNOME versions older than 3.34, and have permanently visible scrollbars, you can use the GTK_OVERLAY_SCROLLING=0 environment variable.

Use it on an per-app basis like this (to launch gedit in this example; make sure the application is not already running or else this won't work):


To apply this for all application, and disable overlay scrollbars for GNOME on versions older than 3.34, add the following at the end of your ~/.profile file:

gdbus call --session --dest org.freedesktop.DBus --object-path /org/freedesktop/DBus --method org.freedesktop.DBus.UpdateActivationEnvironment '{"GTK_OVERLAY_SCROLLING": "0"}'

Logout and relogin after saving this file to see the changes in action.

Thanks to this tweak by dddevo on Reddit, overlay scrollbars are disabled for all GTK3 applications, even those started via D-Bus.

Using ~/.profile applies this only for your user. To apply it system-wide, add it to /etc/profile.local or in a file under /etc/profile.d/ (as root).