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I'm using nm-applet in xfce, however it displays a grey border like the following:

screenshot of nm-applet in xfce

I tried to debug the panel by doing:

gsettings set org.gtk.Settings.Debug enable-inspector-keybinding true
xfce4-panel -q                                                           
GTK_DEBUG=interactive xfce4-panel

But I cannot find the nm-applet, using the inspector and clicking it the nm-applet doesn't show up. I can only find the pulseaudio plugin.

Any ideas on how to find it or remove the grey border?

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After some googling, ToZ at https://forum.xfce.org/viewtopic.php?id=11551 posted the following answer, and says it happens when we use the Adwaita theme in GTK2:

style "transparent-frame" {
  engine "pixmap" {
    image {
      function = SHADOW
      file     = "gfx/icons/transparent.png"
      border   = {0, 0, 0, 0}
      stretch  = TRUE
    }

    image {
      function       = SHADOW_GAP
      file           = "gfx/icons/transparent.png"
      border         = {0, 0, 0, 0}
      stretch        = TRUE
      gap_start_file = "gfx/icons/transparent.png"
      gap_end_file   = "gfx/icons/transparent.png"
    }
  }
}
widget_class "*Xfce*" style "transparent-frame"

I'm not quite sure how to find a more specific widget_class, but the above works.

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