Run The Gimp (Or Other X11 Apps) Full Screen [OS X Tips]

Run The Gimp (Or Other X11 Apps) Full Screen [OS X Tips]

If you regularly use any X11 apps in Lion, such as the Gimp image editor, then you might dislike to the confusion of each X11 app utilizing its own menu bar. A way to make X11 apps easier to work with is to integrate X11 with Mission Control’s spaces and to run X11 full screen. Here are the steps.


Here’s another tip from Mac Kung Fu, which contains over 300 tips, tricks, hints and hacks for OS X. It’s available from Amazon as well as other bookstores, and also as an eBook for all eReaders.

Here’s how to setup your Mac and X11 to run full-screen each time you use it. These instructions need only be followed once, and are good for ALL X11 apps you might want to use.

  1. Create a space specially for X11. This can be done by starting Mission Control using either the keyboard hotkey or Control + Up, then holding Option and pressing the plus button in the top right corner of the screen.
  2. Switch to the new space and start X11 by hitting Command + Space and typing X11. Hit Return to start the program.
  3. Right-click the X11 icon in the Dock and click Options -> This Desktop.
  4. Click X11’s application menu, then select Preferences. Select the Output tab in the dialog box that appears, and put a check in the boxes alongside Full-Screen Mode and Allow Menu Bar Access in Full-Screen Mode.
  5. Close the preferences dialog, then quit X11(right-click its Dock icon and select Quit).

From now on any apps you start that require X11 (including The Gimp) will automatically switch to the new space to run, and they will start in full-screen mode without the Dock or OS X menu bar present. However, by nudging the mouse cursor at the top edge of the screen, you can make the main OS X window appear. Here you’ll be able to quit X11 once you’ve quit the app running within it.

X11 takes over the keyboard so all keyboard shortcuts and hotkeys that allow you to switch spaces or activate Mission Control no longer work. This is perhaps a good thing because switching away from full-screen X11 means getting back to it can be very tricky. If you find yourself accidentally switching away from X11 or to a different desktop, the only way I found of reliably returning to X11 was to right-click its Dock icon, select Applications, then click Terminal. This opens a terminal window in the X11 space, but this can be closed instantly.

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About the author

Keir ThomasKeir Thomas (http://keirthomas.com) is the author of Mac Kung Fu, which contains over 300 tips, tricks, hints and hacks for Mac OS X Lion. He's also the author of over 10 other computing titles.

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