HiDPI (High Dots Per Inch) Display

Upon starting Kali back up, certain things may appear larger than expected. This could be because of HiDPI (aka High DPI). Depending on how the software was made, it could be using gtk2, gtk3, QT5 etc.

This could be happening for various reasons, such as the graphic card drivers and/or the monitor profile.

This guide will cover single screen setups. We do not have the hardware in order to test multiple display outputs to write up the guide. So we are looking for community contribution to help out. If you have the hardware, and expertise, please edit this guide!


Xfce does support HiDPI monitors. Though you may need to alter a few places, depending on your hardware, versions and issues to get it working.

Scaling Factor

After logging into Kali, the wallpaper may look “normal”, but everything else might be “a little small to read”. Increasing the “Scaling Factor” from “x1” to “x2” should address this problem.

You have two ways of altering this, either graphical or through the command line. To alter the scaling factor to “x2“:

  • Graphical:
    • Kali -> Settings -> Appearance -> Settings -> Windows Scaling
    • “*Kali -> Settings -> Appearance -> Window Manager -> Theme: Kali-Dark-xHiDPI”

  • In a terminal window, run the following commands:

    kali@kali:~$ echo export GDK_SCALE=2 >> ~/.xsessionrc
    kali@kali:~$ xfconf-query -c xfwm4 -p /general/theme -s Kali-Dark-xHiDPI
    kali@kali:~$ xfconf-query -c xsettings -p /Gdk/WindowScalingFactor -n -t 'int' -s 2

The quickest way to clean up any left over artifacts is to now log out and in again.

Qt apps

Some apps, such as qterminal, don’t use the scale factor explained before, so they need to be configure separately. To do so, you need to set the following environmental variables in the ~/.xsessionrc file:

kali@kali:~$ echo export QT_SCALE_FACTOR=2 >> ~/.xsessionrc

Cursor size

Enabling HiDPI settings can cause some issues with the mouse size, and you might see how its size varies depending on the application you place it over. To solve this, you can force the cursor size with the following command:

kali@kali:~$ echo export XCURSOR_SIZE=48 >> ~/.xsessionrc

You can try it using different values for XCURSOR_SIZE.

HiDPI General Script

In case you need a more general script to enable HiDPI in your desktop, here you have one that applies the configurations explained before. Remember to log out and in again after running it.

xfconf-query -c xfwm4 -p /general/theme -s Kali-Dark-xHiDPI
xfconf-query -c xsettings -p /Gdk/WindowScalingFactor -n -t 'int' -s 2
cat <<- EOF >> ~/.xsessionrc
	export XCURSOR_SIZE=48
	export GDK_SCALE=2

Small/Large Font

Upon opening some applications, the font may appear larger/smaller than expected. For example, this could be inside a terminal window.

In the example below, you can see two different terminal software, one using QT (QTerminal) and the other using GTK (xfce4-terminal)

You have two ways of altering this, either graphical or through the command line. To alter the DPI:

  • Graphical:
    • Kali -> Settings -> Appearance -> Fonts -> DPI
    • Enable: Custom DPI Settings
    • Value: 180

  • In a terminal window, run the following commands:

    kali@kali:~$ nano ~/.xsessionrc
    kali@kali:~$ cat ~/.xsessionrc
    xrandr --dpi 200

Due to a bug, you will need to either toggle Custom DPI Settings or increase/decrease the value then restore it back to the value previously.

The next time you open the program back up, the font should now be normal.

Login Screen

If you notice an issue with the login screen (lightdm), you can set “xft-dpi” to “180 (or higher)“.

kali@kali:~$ grep xft-dpi /etc/lightdm/lightdm-gtk-greeter.conf
xft-dpi = 96
kali@kali:~$ sudo nano /etc/lightdm/lightdm-gtk-greeter.conf
kali@kali:~$ cat /etc/lightdm/lightdm-gtk-greeter.conf
xft-dpi = 200