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Gnome-shell extension to manager your display brightness via an alpha overlay (instead of the backlight).
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Soft Brightness Gnome Shell Extension

Brightness slider in Gnome Shell's system menu


Soft Brightness uses an alpha overlay to control the brightness on all or some of your monitors. It integrates smoothly Common uses are:

  • Your laptop has no back-light, maybe because it's not supported, or you have an OLED display.

  • You want to control the brightness level of external monitor like you do with your built-in screen.

Bonus features:

  • Minimum brightness level: do not get lost in the dark.

  • Can operate the shell in tear-free (VSync) mode at all time.


Soft Brightness comes with a configuration panel, which can be accessed from the "Tweaks" application or the Gnome Shell Extensions page.

Soft Brightness preference panel

Download / Install

Install directly from the Gnome Shell Extensions site.

Or download the zip file from the GitHub releases page and unzip the file in the ~/.local/share/gnome-shell/extensions/ directory (you may have to create the directory).

Building from source


  • meson v0.44.0 or later.

Running the build

  • Check out: git clone

  • cd soft-brightness

  • Run meson: meson build

  • To install in your your gnome shell extensions' directory (~/.local/share/gnome-shell/extensions), run ninja: ninja -C build install

  • To build the extension zip files, run: ninja -C build, the extension will be found under build/


Version 8

April 16, 2019

  • Remove the overlay during screenshots: they are now unaffected by the brightness setting.
  • Keep the brightness setting when the magnifier (aka. Universal Access Magnifier/Zoom) is on.
  • Fix bugs.

Version 7

March 30, 2019

  • Fix warning in logger.js that was introduced in version 6.

Version 6

March 26, 2019

  • ES6 / Gnome-Shell 3.32 compatibility (still compatible with 3.30 and lower).
  • Updated meson-gse to latest.
  • Minor doc updates.

Version 5

March 24, 2019

  • Updated meson-gse to latest.
  • Fix extension error on disable.
  • Fix extension error on enable-disable-enable.
  • Minor non-user visible, internal changes to preferences dialog.
  • Minor doc updates.

Version 4

February 11, 2019

  • Meson 0.44.0 or later is required.
  • Add credits.
  • Drop duplicate shipped file in lib/convenience.js.
  • Add GPLv3 in LICENSE.
  • Use meson-gse for building: custom scripts moved there.
  • Fix french translations not showing up.
  • Beautify preferences dialog.
  • Fix a few strings for consistency.
  • Fix wrong gettext-domain in schema file.
  • Remove all global variables from extension.

Version 3

February 6, 2019

  • Moved to git.
  • Use meson for builds, restructure source tree.
  • Added internationalization, and french translation.
  • Added LICENSE and files.
  • Show git revision in debug logging.
  • Brightness overlays now mask the entire desktop, including transients.
  • Brightness overlays don't prevent DND actions in the overview anymore.
  • Fix a couple of typos.

Version 2

February 5, 2019

  • The extension now removes the standard brightness control and puts its own in place (as opposed to trying to monkey patch the existing control).

  • Handle external/built-in monitor.

  • Control what happens in full-screen.


The git release shows as 3 in the source code, but the extension (as built by the Gnome Shell Extensions website) shows the release at 2. Let's call it release 2 then.

Version 1

February 2, 2019

First public release.


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