XFCE4 desktop zooming with the keyboard

published on January 19, 2017.

XFCE4 has a zoom feature available when the desktop composition is turned on. By default, holding the Alt key and scrolling up or down the mouse wheel, I can zoom in or out the entire desktop. Once zoomed in, it follows the mouse pointer as to which part of the desktop to show.

I prefer doing as much as possible from my keyboard, and to use the mouse only when necessary.

I don’t care much for desktop composition, the transparent windows and animations are not my thing.

Toggle desktop composition

Given that desktop composition is required for the zooming feature, I want it enabled only when I want to use the zoom feature itself.

Using the following command, I can toggle the composition on and off:

xfconf-query --channel=xfwm4 --property=/general/use_compositing --type=bool --toggle

xdotool to fake the mouse

xdotool is a nice little program that fakes keyboard and mouse input, among other things.

Using that, running the following command from the terminal, zooms in:

xdotool keydown Alt click 4 keyup Alt

and this command zooms out:

xdotool keydown Alt click 5 keyup Alt

Just to make all this even easier, I put these commands in a couple of bash scripts and added them as keyboard shortcuts.

Now I have Super C to toggle the desktop composition, Alt + to zoom in and Alt - to zoom out.

Happy hackin’!

Thanks for reading! If you require help on a project of any kind, let's talk!

Robert Basic

Robert Basic

Software engineer, consultant, open source contributor.

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