I have a GNOME 3 desktop environment installed on my Arch Linux box, and I would like to manually configure my desktop settings.

I understand there is a file ~/.config/monitors.xml but I am quite puzzled about what the tags in the file actually do.

I am particularly interested in the presentation, clone, reflect_x and reflect_y tags. I could not find a manual online for this configuration file.

I understand they might have something to do with dual head support?

1 Answer 1


The monitors.xml file stores the monitors settings as configure by Gnome System Settings. It can store configurations for multiple monitor setups and the user's personal choice of screen resolution. Gnome System Settings uses the XRANDR extension to reconfigure the display(s) on the fly.

As you found, and as can be read here, the content of the file isn't documented.

The settings of your display are automatically detected when the X server starts. However, these can be overriden by creating and using /usr/share/X11/xorg.conf.d/*.conf files. Changes here are system wide and work regardless of the Desktop Environment you use.

Once logged in to Gnome, changes made using the Gnome System Settings' Display applet are saved in your monitors.xml file. As Gnome uses XRANDR to configure the displays based on the content of this file, you could use the xrandr utility to manually configure your display(s).

If you need to know the format of the monitors.xml file, one option would be to monitor it's content as you change settings on Gnome - there aren't that many, especially if you're only using a single monitor. Another option would be to read the source code.

  • Bummer! But Thanks for linking to what seems to be the right place for one of us to help out by documenting what we can, and contributing it to the project.
    – nealmcb
    May 29, 2018 at 21:24

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.