Migrating from GTK 3.x to GTK 4 [src]

GTK 4 is a major new version of GTK that breaks both API and ABI compared to GTK 3.x. Thankfully, most of the changes are not hard to adapt to and there are a number of steps that you can take to prepare your GTK 3.x application for the switch to GTK 4. After that, there’s a number of adjustments that you may have to do when you actually switch your application to build against GTK 4.

Preparation in GTK 3.x

The steps outlined in the following sections assume that your application is working with GTK 3.24, which is the final stable release of GTK 3.x. It includes all the necessary APIs and tools to help you port your application to GTK 4. If you are using an older version of GTK 3.x, you should first get your application to build and work with the latest minor release in the 3.24 series.

Do not use deprecated symbols

Over the years, a number of functions, and in some cases, entire widgets have been deprecated. These deprecations are clearly spelled out in the API reference, with hints about the recommended replacements. The API reference for GTK 3 also includes an index of all deprecated symbols.

To verify that your program does not use any deprecated symbols, you can use defines to remove deprecated symbols from the header files, as follows:


Note that some parts of our API, such as enumeration values, are not well covered by the deprecation warnings. In most cases, using them will require you to also use deprecated functions, which will trigger warnings.

Enable diagnostic warnings

Deprecations of properties and signals cannot be caught at compile time, as both properties and signals are installed and used after types have been instantiated. In order to catch deprecations and changes in the run time components, you should use the G_ENABLE_DIAGNOSTIC environment variable when running your application, e.g.:


Do not use GTK-specific command line arguments

GTK 4 does not parse command line arguments any more. If you are using command line arguments like --gtk-debug you should use the GTK_DEBUG environment variable instead. If you are using --g-fatal-warnings for debugging purposes, you should use the G_DEBUG environment variable, as specified by the GLib documentation.

Do not use widget style properties

Style properties do not exist in GTK 4. You should stop using them in your custom CSS and in your code.

Review your window creation flags

GTK 4 removes the GDK_WA_CURSOR flag. Instead, just use gdk_window_set_cursor() to set a cursor on the window after creating it. GTK 4 also removes the GDK_WA_VISUAL flag, and always uses an RGBA visual for windows. To prepare your code for this, use gdk_window_set_visual (gdk_screen_get_rgba_visual ()) after creating your window. GTK 4 also removes the GDK_WA_WMCLASS flag. If you need this X11-specific functionality, use XSetClassHint() directly.

Stop using direct access to GdkEvent structs

In GTK 4, event structs are opaque and immutable. Many fields already have accessors in GTK 3, and you should use those to reduce the amount of porting work you have to do at the time of the switch.

Stop using gdk_pointer_warp()

Warping the pointer is disorienting and unfriendly to users. GTK 4 does not support it. In special circumstances (such as when implementing remote connection UIs) it can be necessary to warp the pointer; in this case, use platform APIs such as XWarpPointer() directly.

Stop using non-RGBA visuals

GTK 4 always uses RGBA visuals for its windows; you should make sure that your code works with such visuals. At the same time, you should stop using GdkVisual APIs, since this object not longer exists in GTK 4. Most of its APIs are deprecated already and not useful when dealing with RGBA visuals.

Stop using gtk_widget_set_app_paintable

This is gone in GTK4 with no direct replacement. But for some usecases there are alternatives. If you want to make the background transparent, you can set the background color to, for example, rgba(255, 255, 255, 0) using CSS instead.

Stop using GtkBox padding, fill and expand child properties

GTK 4 removes these GtkBox child properties, so you should stop using them. You can replace GtkBox:padding using GtkWidgets margin-* properties on your child widgets.

The fill child property can be replaced by setting appropriate values for the GtkWidget:halign and GtkWidget:valign properties of the child widgets. If you previously set the fill child property to TRUE, you can achieve the same effect by setting the halign or valign properties to GTK_ALIGN_FILL, depending on the parent box — halign for a horizontal box, valign for a vertical one.

GtkBox also uses the expand child property. It can be replaced by setting GtkWidget:hexpand or GtkWidget:vexpand on the child widgets. To match the old behavior of the GtkBoxs expand child property, you need to set hexpand on the child widgets of a horizontal GtkBox and vexpand on the child widgets of a vertical GtkBox.

Note that there’s a subtle but important difference between GtkBoxs expand and fill child properties and the ones in GtkWidget: setting GtkWidget:hexpand or GtkWidget:vexpand to TRUE will propagate up the widget hierarchy, so a pixel-perfect port might require you to reset the expansion flags to FALSE in a parent widget higher up the hierarchy.

Stop using the state argument of GtkStyleContext getters

The getters in the GtkStyleContext API, such as gtk_style_context_get_property(), gtk_style_context_get(), or gtk_style_context_get_color() only accept the context’s current state for their state argument. You should update all callers to pass the current state.

Stop using gdk_pixbuf_get_from_window() and gdk_cairo_set_source_window()

These functions are not supported in GTK 4. Instead, either use backend-specific APIs, or render your widgets using Gtk.WidgetClass.snapshot, once you are using GTK 4.

The functions and properties related to automatically add a GtkImage to a GtkButton, and using a GtkSetting to control its visibility, are not supported in GTK 4. Instead, you can just pack a GtkImage inside a GtkButton, and control its visibility like you would for any other widget. If you only want to add a named icon to a GtkButton, you can use gtk_button_new_from_icon_name().

Stop using GtkWidget event signals

Event controllers and gestures replace event signals in GTK 4.

Most of them have been backported to GTK 3.x so you can prepare for this change.

Signal Event controller
::event GtkEventControllerLegacy
::event-after GtkEventControllerLegacy
::button-press-event GtkGestureClick
::button-release-event GtkGestureClick
::touch-event various touch gestures
::scroll-event GtkEventControllerScroll
::motion-notify-event GtkEventControllerMotion
::delete-event -
::key-press-event GtkEventControllerKey
::key-release-event GtkEventControllerKey
::enter-notify-event GtkEventControllerMotion
::leave-notify-event GtkEventControllerMotion
::configure-event -
::focus-in-event GtkEventControllerFocus
::focus-out-event GtkEventControllerFocus
::map-event -
::unmap-event -
::property-notify-event replaced by GdkClipboard
::selection-clear-event replaced by GdkClipboard
::selection-request-event replaced by GdkClipboard
::selection-notify-event replaced by GdkClipboard
Drag-and-Drop signals GtkDragSource, GtkDropTarget
::proximity-in-event GtkGestureStylus
::proximity-out-event GtkGestureStylus
::visibility-notify-event -
::window-state-event -
::damage-event -
::grab-broken-event -

Event signals which are not directly related to input have to be dealt with on a one-by-one basis:

  • If you were using ::configure-event and ::window-state-event to save window state, you should use property notification for corresponding GtkWindow properties, such as GtkWindow:default-width, GtkWindow:default-height, GtkWindow:maximized or GtkWindow:fullscreened.
  • If you were using ::delete-event to present a confirmation when using the close button of a window, you should use the GtkWindow::close-request signal.
  • If you were using ::map-event and ::unmap-event to track a window being mapped, you should use property notification for the GdkSurface:mapped property instead.
  • The ::damage-event signal has no replacement, as the only consumer of damage events were the offscreen GDK surfaces, which have no replacement in GTK 4.x.

Set a proper application ID

In GTK 4 we want the application’s GApplication application-id’ (and therefore the D-Bus name), the desktop file basename and Wayland’s xdg-shell app_id to match. In order to achieve this with GTK 3.x call g_set_prgname() with the same application ID you passed to GtkApplication. Rename your desktop files to match the application ID if needed.

The call to g_set_prgname() can be removed once you fully migrated to GTK 4.

You should be aware that changing the application ID makes your application appear as a new, different app to application installers. You should consult the appstream documentation for best practices around renaming applications.

GTK 4 removes the gtk_main_* family of APIs. The recommended replacement is GtkApplication, but you can also iterate the GLib main loop directly, using GMainContext APIs. The replacement for gtk_events_pending() is g_main_context_pending(), the replacement for gtk_main_iteration() is g_main_context_iteration().

In GTK 4, you can use this replacement that will iterate the default main loop until all windows have been closed:

while (g_list_model_get_n_items (gtk_window_get_toplevels ()) > 0)
  g_main_context_iteration (NULL, TRUE);

Reduce the use of gtk_widget_destroy()

GTK 4 introduces a gtk_window_destroy() api. While that is not available in GTK 3, you can prepare for the switch by using gtk_widget_destroy() only on toplevel windows, and replace all other uses with gtk_container_remove() or g_object_unref().

Stop using the GtkWidget.destroy vfunc

Instead of implementing GtkWidget.destroy, you can implement GObject.dispose.

Reduce the use of generic container APIs

GTK 4 removes gtk_container_add() and gtk_container_remove(). While there is not always a replacement for gtk_container_remove() in GTK 3, you can replace many uses of gtk_container_add() with equivalent container-specific APIs such as gtk_grid_attach(), and thereby reduce the amount of work you have to do at the time of the switch.

Review your use of icon resources

When using icons as resources, the behavior of GTK 4 is different in one respect: Icons that are directly in $APP_ID/icons/ are treated as unthemed icons, which also means that symbolic icons are not recolored. If you want your icon resources to have icon theme semantics, they need to be placed into theme subdirectories such as $APP_ID/icons/16x16/actions or $APP_ID/icons/scalable/status.

This location works fine in GTK 3 too, so you can prepare for this change before switching to GTK 4.

Changes that need to be done at the time of the switch

This section outlines porting tasks that you need to tackle when you get to the point that you actually build your application against GTK 4. Making it possible to prepare for these in GTK 3 would have been either impossible or impractical.

Larger changes

Some of the larger themes of GTK 4 development are hard to cover in the form of checklist items, so we mention them separately up-front.


Compared to previous versions, GTK 4 emphasizes composition and delegation over subclassing. As a consequence, many widgets can no longer be subclassed. In most cases, you should look deriving your widget directly from GtkWidget and use complex widgets as child widgets instead of deriving from them.

Life-cycle handling

Widgets in GTK 4 are treated like any other objects - their parent widget holds a reference on them, and GTK holds a reference on toplevel windows. gtk_window_destroy() will drop the reference on the toplevel window, and cause the whole widget hierarchy to be finalized unless there are other references that keep widgets alive.

The GtkWidget::destroy signal is emitted when a widget is disposed, and therefore can no longer be used to break reference cycles. A typical sign of a reference cycle involving a toplevel window is when closing the window does not make the application quit.

Stop using GdkScreen

The GdkScreen object has been removed in GTK 4. Most of its APIs already had replacements in GTK 3 and were deprecated, a few remaining replacements have been added to GdkDisplay.

Stop using the root window

The root window is an X11-centric concept that is no longer exposed in the backend-neutral GDK API. If you need to interact with the X11 root window, you can use GdkX11.Display.get_xrootwindow to get its XID.

Stop using GdkVisual

This object is not useful with current GTK drawing APIs and has been removed without replacement.

Stop using GdkDeviceManager

The GdkDeviceManager object has been removed in GTK 4. Most of its APIs already had replacements in GTK 3 and were deprecated in favor of GdkSeat.

Adapt to GdkWindow API changes

GdkWindow has been renamed to GdkSurface.

In GTK 4, the two roles of a standalone toplevel window and of a popup that is placed relative to a parent window have been separated out into two interfaces, GdkToplevel and GdkPopup. Surfaces implementing these interfaces are created with gdk_surface_new_toplevel() and gdk_surface_new_popup(), respectively, and they are presented on screen using gdk_toplevel_present() and gdk_popup_present(). The present() functions take parameters in the form of an auxiliary layout struct, GdkPopupLayout or GdkToplevelLayout.

If your code is dealing directly with surfaces, you may have to change it to call the API in these interfaces, depending on whether the surface you are dealing with is a toplevel or a popup.

As part of this reorganization, X11-only concepts such as sticky, keep-below, urgency, skip-taskbar or window groups have either been removed or moved to X11 backend api. If you need to use them on your X11 windows, you will have to use those backend apis or set the corresponding X11 properties (as specified in the EWMH) yourself.

Subsurfaces are not currently supported. Native and foreign subwindows are no longer supported. These concepts were complicating the code and could not be supported across backends.

A number of GdkWindow APIs are no longer available. This includes gdk_window_reparent(), gdk_window_set_geometry_hints(), gdk_window_raise(), gdk_window_restack(), gdk_window_move(), gdk_window_resize(). If you need to manually control the position or stacking of your X11 windows, you you will have to use Xlib apis.

A number of minor API cleanups have happened in GdkSurface as well. For example, gdk_surface_input_shape_combine_region() has been renamed to gdk_surface_set_input_region(), and gdk_surface_begin_resize_drag() has been renamed to gdk_toplevel_begin_resize().

The "iconified" window state has been renamed to "minimized"

The GDK_TOPLEVEL_STATE_ICONIFIED value of the GdkSurfaceState enumeration is now GDK_TOPLEVEL_STATE_MINIMIZED in the GdkToplevelState enumeration.

The GdkWindow functions gdk_window_iconify() and gdk_window_deiconify() have been renamed to gdk_toplevel_minimize() and gdk_toplevel_present(), respectively.

The behavior of the minimization and unminimization operations have not been changed, and they still require support from the underlying windowing system.

Adapt to GdkEvent API changes

Direct access to GdkEvent structs is no longer possible in GTK 4. GdkEvent is now a strictly read-only type, and you can no longer change any of its fields, or construct new events. All event fields have accessors that you will have to use.

Event compression is always enabled in GTK 4, for both motion and scroll events. If you need to see the uncoalesced motion or scroll history, use gdk_event_get_history() on the latest event.

Stop using grabs

GTK 4 no longer provides the gdk_device_grab() or gdk_seat_grab() apis. If you need to dismiss a popup when the user clicks outside (the most common use for grabs), you can use the GdkPopup GdkPopup:autohide property instead. GtkPopover also has a GtkPopover:autohide property for this. If you need to prevent the user from interacting with a window while a dialog is open, use the GtkWindow:modal property of the dialog.

Adapt to coordinate API changes

A number of coordinate APIs in GTK 3 had variants taking int arguments: gdk_device_get_surface_at_position(), gdk_surface_get_device_position(). These have been changed to use double arguments, and the int variants have been removed. Update your code accordingly.

Any APIs that deal with global (or root) coordinates have been removed in GTK 4, since not all backends support them. You should replace your use of such APIs with surface-relative equivalents. Examples of such removed APIs are gdk_window_get_origin(), gdk_window_move() or gdk_event_get_root_coords().

Adapt to GdkKeymap API changes

GdkKeymap no longer exists as an independent object.

If you need access to keymap state, it is now exposed as properties on the GdkDevice representing the keyboard: GdkDevice:direction, GdkDevice:has-bidi-layouts, GdkDevice:caps-lock-state, GdkDevice:num-lock-state, GdkDevice:scroll-lock-state and GdkDevice:modifier-state. To obtain the keyboard device, you can use

gdk_seat_get_keyboard (gdk_display_get_default_seat (display)

If you need access to translated keys for event handling, GdkEvent now includes all of the translated key state, including consumed modifiers, group and shift level, so there should be no need to manually call gdk_keymap_translate_keyboard_state() (which has been removed).

If you need to do forward or backward mapping between key codes and key values, use gdk_display_map_keycode() and gdk_display_map_keyval(), which are the replacements for gdk_keymap_get_entries_for_keycode() and gdk_keymap_get_entries_for_keyval().

Adapt to changes in keyboard modifier handling

GTK 3 has the idea that use of modifiers may differ between different platforms, and has a GdkModifierIntent api to let platforms provide hint about how modifiers are expected to be used. It also promoted the use of <Primary> instead of <Control> to specify accelerators that adapt to platform conventions.

In GTK 4, the meaning of modifiers has been fixed, and backends are expected to map the platform conventions to the existing modifiers. The expected use of modifiers in GTK 4 is:

Primary accelerators
Extending selections
Modifying selections
Prevent text input

Consequently, GdkModifierIntent and related APIs have been removed, and <Control> is preferred over <Primary> in accelerators.

A related change is that GTK 4 no longer supports the use of archaic X11 ‘real’ modifiers with the names Mod1,…, Mod5, and GDK_MOD1_MASK has been renamed to GDK_ALT_MASK.

Replace GtkClipboard with GdkClipboard

The GtkClipboard API has been removed, and replaced by GdkClipboard. There is not direct 1:1 mapping between the old an the new API, so it cannot be a mechanical replacement; the new API is based on object types and GValue like object properties, instead of opaque identifiers, so it should be easier to use.

For instance, the example below copies the contents of an entry into the clipboard:

static void
copy_text (GtkWidget *widget)
  GtkEditable *editable = GTK_EDITABLE (widget);

  // Initialize a GValue with the contents of the widget
  GValue value = G_VALUE_INIT;
  g_value_init (&value, G_TYPE_STRING);
  g_value_set_string (&value, gtk_editable_get_text (editable));

  // Store the value in the clipboard object
  GdkClipboard *clipboard = gtk_widget_get_clipboard (widget);
  gdk_clipboard_set_value (clipboard, &value);

  g_value_unset (&value);

whereas the example below pastes the contents into the entry:

static void
paste_text (GtkWidget *widget)
  GtkEditable *editable = GTK_EDITABLE (widget);

  // Initialize a GValue to receive text
  GValue value = G_VALUE_INIT;
  g_value_init (&value, G_TYPE_STRING);

  // Get the content provider for the clipboard, and ask it for text
  GdkClipboard *clipboard = gtk_widget_get_clipboard (widget);
  GdkContentProvider *provider = gdk_clipboard_get_content (clipboard);

  // If the content provider does not contain text, we are not interested
  if (!gdk_content_provider_get_value (provider, &value, NULL))

  const char *str = g_value_get_string (&value);

  gtk_editable_set_text (editable, str);

  g_value_unset (&value);

The convenience API for specific target types in GtkClipboard has been replaced by their corresponding GType:

GtkClipboard GType
gtk_clipboard_request_text() G_TYPE_STRING
gtk_clipboard_request_rich_text() GTK_TYPE_TEXT_BUFFER
gtk_clipboard_request_image() GDK_TYPE_PIXBUF
gtk_clipboard_request_uris() GDK_TYPE_FILE_LIST

Note: Support for rich text serialization across different processes for GtkTextBuffer is not available any more.

If you are copying the contents of an image, it is recommended to use GDK_TYPE_PAINTABLE instead of GDK_TYPE_PIXBUF, to minimize the amount of potential copies.

Stop using gtk_get_current_... APIs

The function gtk_get_current_event() and its variants have been replaced by equivalent event controller APIs: gtk_event_controller_get_current_event(), etc.

Convert your UI files

A number of the changes outlined below affect .ui files. The gtk4-builder-tool simplify command can perform many of the necessary changes automatically, when called with the --3to4 option. You should always review the resulting changes.

The <requires> tag now supports for the lib attribute the gtk value only, instead of the gtk+ one previously.

Adapt to GtkBuilder API changes

gtk_builder_connect_signals() no longer exists. Instead, signals are always connected automatically. If you need to add user data to your signals, gtk_builder_set_current_object() must be called. An important caveat is that you have to do this before loading any XML. This means if you need to use gtk_builder_set_current_object(), you can no longer use gtk_builder_new_from_file(), gtk_builder_new_from_resource(), or gtk_builder_new_from_string(). Instead, you must use vanilla gtk_builder_new(), then call gtk_builder_set_current_object(), then load the XML using gtk_builder_add_from_file(), gtk_builder_add_from_resource(), or gtk_builder_add_from_string(). You must check the return value for failure and manually abort with g_error() if something went wrong.

You only have to worry about this if you were previously using gtk_builder_connect_signals(). If you are using templates, then gtk_widget_init_template() will call gtk_builder_set_current_object() for you, so templates work like before.

Adapt to event controller API changes

A few changes to the event controller and GtkGesture APIs did not make it back to GTK 3, and have to be taken into account when moving to GTK 4. One is that the GtkEventControllerMotion::enter and GtkEventControllerMotion::leave signals have gained new arguments. Another is that GtkGestureMultiPress has been renamed to GtkGestureClick, and has lost its area property. A GtkEventControllerFocus has been split off from GtkEventControllerKey.

In GTK 3, GtkEventController:widget was a construct-only property, so a GtkWidget was provided whenever constructing a GtkEventController. In GTK 4, GtkEventController:widget is now read-only. Use gtk_widget_add_controller() to add an event controller to a widget.

In GTK 3, widgets did not own their event controllers, and event controllers did not own their widgets, so developers were responsible for manually keeping event controllers alive for the lifetime of their associated widgets. In GTK 4, widgets own their event controllers. gtk_widget_add_controller() takes ownership of the event controller, so there is no longer any need to store a reference to the event controller after it has been added to a widget.

Although not normally needed, an event controller could be removed from a widget in GTK 3 by destroying the event controller with g_object_unref(). In GTK 4, you must use gtk_widget_remove_controller().

Focus handling changes

The semantics of the GtkWidget:can-focus property have changed. In GTK 3, this property only meant that the widget itself would not accept keyboard input, but its children still might (in the case of containers). In GTK 4, if :can-focus is FALSE, the focus cannot enter the widget or any of its descendents, and the default value has changed from FALSE to TRUE. In addition, there is a GtkWidget:focusable property, which controls whether an individual widget can receive the input focus.

The gtk4-builder-tool utility, when called with the --3to4 option of the simplify command, will replace :can-focus by :focusable.

The feature to automatically keep the focus widget scrolled into view with gtk_container_set_focus_vadjustment() has been removed together with GtkContainer, and is provided by scrollable widgets instead. In the common case that the scrollable is a GtkViewport, use GtkViewport:scroll-to-focus.

Use the new apis for keyboard shortcuts

The APIs for keyboard shortcuts and accelerators have changed in GTK 4.

Instead of GtkAccelGroup, you now use a GtkShortcutController with global scope, and instead of GtkBindingSet, you now use gtk_widget_class_add_shortcut(), gtk_widget_class_add_binding() and its variants. In both cases, you probably want to add actions that can be triggered by your shortcuts.

There is no direct replacement for loading and saving accelerators with GtkAccelMap. But since GtkShortcutController implements GListModel and both GtkShortcutTrigger and GtkShortcutAction can be serialized to strings, it is relatively easy to implement saving and loading yourself.

Stop using GtkEventBox

GtkEventBox is no longer needed and has been removed.

All widgets receive all events.

Stop using GtkButtonBox

GtkButtonBox has been removed. Use a GtkBox instead.

Adapt to GtkBox API changes

The GtkBox pack_start() and pack_end() methods have been replaced by gtk_box_prepend() and gtk_box_append(). You can also reorder box children as necessary.

Adapt to GtkWindow API changes

Following the GdkSurface changes, a number of GtkWindow APIs that were X11-specific have been removed. This includes gtk_window_set_position(), gtk_window_set_geometry_hints(), gtk_window_set_gravity(), gtk_window_move(), gtk_window_parse_geometry(), gtk_window_set_keep_above(), gtk_window_set_keep_below(), gtk_window_begin_resize_drag(), gtk_window_begin_move_drag(). Most likely, you should just stop using them. In some cases, you can fall back to using the underlying GdkToplevel APIs (for example, gdk_toplevel_begin_resize()); alternatively, you will need to get the native windowing system surface from the GtkWindow and call platform specific API.

The APIs for controlling GtkWindow size have changed to be better aligned with the way size changes are integrated in the frame cycle. gtk_window_resize() and gtk_window_get_size() have been removed. Instead, use gtk_window_set_default_size() and gtk_window_get_default_size().

Adapt to GtkHeaderBar and GtkActionBar API changes

The gtk_header_bar_set_show_close_button() function has been renamed to the more accurate name gtk_header_bar_set_show_title_buttons(). The corresponding getter and the property itself have also been renamed. The default value of the property is now TRUE instead of FALSE.

The gtk_header_bar_set_custom_title() function has been renamed to the more accurate name gtk_header_bar_set_title_widget(). The corresponding getter and the property itself have also been renamed.

The gtk_header_bar_set_title() function has been removed along with its corresponding getter and the property. By default GtkHeaderBar shows the title of the window, so if you were setting the title of the header bar, consider setting the window title instead. If you need to show a title that’s different from the window title, use the GtkHeaderBar:title-widget property to add a GtkLabel as shown in the example in the GtkHeaderBar documentation.

The gtk_header_bar_set_subtitle() function has been removed along with its corresponding getter and the property. The old “subtitle” behavior can be replicated by setting the GtkHeaderBar:title-widget property to a GtkBox with two labels inside, with the title label matching the example in GtkHeaderBar documentation, and the subtitle label being similar, but with "subtitle" style class instead of "title".

The gtk_header_bar_set_has_subtitle() function has been removed along with its corresponding getter and the property. Its behavior can be replicated by setting the GtkHeaderBar:title-widget property to a GtkStack with GtkStack:vhomogeneous property set to TRUE and two pages, each with a GtkBox with title and subtitle as described above.

Some of the internal structure of GtkHeaderBar has been made available as public API: GtkWindowHandle and GtkWindowControls. If you have unusual needs for custom headerbars, these might be useful to you.

The :pack-type child properties of GtkHeaderBar and GtkActionBar have been removed. If you need to programmatically place children, use the gtk_header_bar_pack_start() and gtk_header_bar_pack_end() methods. In UI files, use the type attribute on the child element.

The gtk4-builder-tool utility can help with this conversion, with the --3to4 option of the simplify command.

Adapt to GtkStack, GtkAssistant and GtkNotebook API changes

The child properties of GtkStack, GtkAssistant and GtkNotebook have been converted into child meta objects.

Instead of gtk_container_child_set (stack, child, …), you can now use g_object_set (gtk_stack_get_page (stack, child), …). In .ui files, the GtkStackPage objects must be created explicitly, and take the child widget as property. The changes to GtkNotebook and GtkAssistant are similar.

gtk4-builder-tool can help with this conversion, with the --3to4 option of the simplify command.

Adapt to button class hierarchy changes

GtkCheckButton is no longer derived from GtkToggleButton. Call gtk_check_button_set_active() instead of gtk_toggle_button_set_active().

GtkRadioButton has been removed, and its grouping functionality has been added to GtkCheckButton and GtkToggleButton. Use grouped check buttons for traditional radio groups, and used grouped toggle buttons for view switchers. The new API to set up groups of buttons is gtk_check_button_set_group() and gtk_toggle_button_set_group().

gtk4-builder-tool can help with this conversion, with the --3to4 option of the simplify command.

Adapt to GtkScrolledWindow API changes

The constructor for GtkScrolledWindow no longer takes the adjustments as arguments - these were almost always NULL.

Adapt to GtkBin removal

The abstract base class GtkBin for single-child containers has been removed. The former subclasses are now derived directly from GtkWidget, and have a “child” property for their child widget. To add a child, use the setter for the “child” property (e.g. gtk_frame_set_child()) instead of gtk_container_add(). Adding a child in a ui file with <child> still works.

The affected classes are:

If you have custom widgets that were derived from GtkBin, you should port them to derive from GtkWidget. Notable vfuncs that you will have to implement include the GObject dispose vfunc (to unparent your child), Gtk.WidgetClass.compute_expand (if you want your container to propagate expand flags) and Gtk.WidgetClass.get_request_mode (if you want your container to support height-for-width).

You may also want to implement the GtkBuildable interface, to support adding children with <child> in ui files.

Adapt to GtkContainer removal

The abstract base class GtkContainer for general containers has been removed. The former subclasses are now derived directly from GtkWidget, and have class-specific add() and remove() functions.

The most noticeable change is the use of gtk_box_append() or gtk_box_prepend() instead of gtk_container_add() for adding children to GtkBox, and the change to use container-specific remove functions, such as gtk_stack_remove() instead of gtk_container_remove(). Adding a child in a ui file with <child> still works.

The affected classes are:

Without GtkContainer, there are no longer facilities for defining and using child properties. If you have custom widgets using child properties, they will have to be converted either to layout properties provided by a layout manager (if they are layout-related), or handled in some other way. One possibility is to use child meta objects, as seen with GtkAssistantPage, GtkStackPage and the like.

If you used to define child properties with <packing> in ui files, you have to switch to using <layout> for the corresponding layout properties. gtk4-builder-tool can help with this conversion, with the --3to4 option of the simplify command.

The replacements for gtk_container_add() are:

Widget Replacement
GtkActionBar gtk_action_bar_pack_start(), gtk_action_bar_pack_end()
GtkBox gtk_box_prepend(), gtk_box_append()
GtkExpander gtk_expander_set_child()
GtkFixed gtk_fixed_put()
GtkFlowBox gtk_flow_box_insert()
GtkGrid gtk_grid_attach()
GtkHeaderBar gtk_header_bar_pack_start(), gtk_header_bar_pack_end()
GtkIconView -
GtkInfoBar gtk_info_bar_add_child()
GtkListBox gtk_list_box_insert()
GtkNotebook gtk_notebook_append_page()
GtkPaned gtk_paned_set_start_child(), gtk_paned_set_end_child()
GtkStack gtk_stack_add_child()
GtkTextView gtk_text_view_add_child_at_anchor(), gtk_text_view_add_overlay()
GtkTreeView -

Stop using GtkContainer::border-width

GTK 4 has removed the GtkContainer::border-width property (together with the rest of GtkContainer). Use other means to influence the spacing of your containers, such as the CSS margin and padding properties on child widgets, or the CSS border-spacing property on containers.

Adapt to gtk_widget_destroy() removal

The function gtk_widget_destroy() has been removed. To explicitly destroy a toplevel window, use gtk_window_destroy(). To destroy a widget that is part of a hierarchy, remove it from its parent using a container-specific remove API, such as gtk_box_remove() or gtk_stack_remove(). To destroy a freestanding non-toplevel widget, use g_object_unref() to drop your reference.

Adapt to coordinate API changes

A number of APIs that are accepting or returning coordinates have been changed from ints to doubles: gtk_widget_translate_coordinates(), gtk_fixed_put(), gtk_fixed_move(). This change is mostly transparent, except for cases where out parameters are involved: you need to pass double* now, instead of int*.

Adapt to GtkStyleContext API changes

The getters in the GtkStyleContext API, such as gtk_style_context_get_color(), gtk_style_context_get_border(), or gtk_style_context_get_margin() have lost their state argument, and always use the context’s current state. Update all callers to omit the state argument.

The most commonly used GtkStyleContext API, gtk_style_context_add_class(), has been moved to GtkWidget as gtk_widget_add_css_class(), as have the corresponding gtk_style_context_remove_class() and gtk_style_context_has_class() APIs.

Adapt to GtkCssProvider API changes

In GTK 4, the various GtkCssProvider load functions have lost their GError argument. If you want to handle CSS loading errors, use the GtkCssProvider::parsing-error signal instead. gtk_css_provider_get_named() has been replaced by gtk_css_provider_load_named().

Stop using GtkShadowType and GtkRelief properties

The shadow-type properties in GtkScrolledWindow, GtkViewport, and GtkFrame, as well as the relief properties in GtkButton and its subclasses have been removed. GtkScrolledWindow, GtkButton and GtkMenuButton have instead gained a boolean has-frame property.

Adapt to GtkWidget's size request changes

GTK 3 used five different virtual functions in GtkWidget to implement size requisition, namely the gtk_widget_get_preferred_width() family of functions. To simplify widget implementations, GTK 4 uses only one virtual function, Gtk.WidgetClass.measure, that widgets have to implement. gtk_widget_measure() replaces the various gtk_widget_get_preferred_ functions for querying sizes.

Adapt to GtkWidget's size allocation changes

The Gtk.WidgetClass.size_allocate vfunc takes the baseline as an argument now, so you no longer need to call gtk_widget_get_allocated_baseline() to get it.

The ::size-allocate signal has been removed, since it is easy to misuse. If you need to learn about sizing changes of custom drawing widgets, use the GtkDrawingArea::resize or GtkGLArea::resize signals. If you want to track the size of toplevel windows, use property notification for GtkWindow:default-width and GtkWindow:default-height.

Switch to GtkWidget's children APIs

In GTK 4, any widget can have children (and GtkContainer is gone). There is new API to navigate the widget tree, for use in widget implementations: gtk_widget_get_first_child(), gtk_widget_get_last_child(), gtk_widget_get_next_sibling(), gtk_widget_get_prev_sibling().

Don't use -gtk-gradient in your CSS

GTK now supports standard CSS syntax for both linear and radial gradients, just use those.

Don't use -gtk-icon-effect in your CSS

GTK now supports a more versatile -gtk-icon-filter instead.


Old Replacement
-gtk-icon-effect: dim -gtk-icon-filter: opacity(0.5)
-gtk-icon-effect: highlight -gtk-icon-filter: brightness(1.2)

Don't use -gtk-icon-theme in your CSS

GTK 4 always uses the current icon theme, with no way to change this.

Don't use -gtk-outline-...-radius in your CSS

These non-standard properties have been removed from GTK CSS. Just use regular border radius.

Adapt to drawing model changes

This area has seen the most radical changes in the transition from GTK 3 to GTK 4. Widgets no longer use a draw() function to render their contents to a cairo surface. Instead, they have a Gtk.WidgetClass.snapshot function that creates one or more GskRenderNodes to represent their content. Third-party widgets that use a draw() function or a GtkWidget::draw signal handler for custom drawing will need to be converted to use gtk_snapshot_append_cairo().

The auxiliary GtkSnapshot object has APIs to help with creating render nodes.

If you are using a GtkDrawingArea for custom drawing, you need to switch to using gtk_drawing_area_set_draw_func() to set a draw function instead of connecting a handler to the GtkWidget::draw signal.

Stop using APIs to query GdkSurfaces

A number of APIs for querying special-purpose windows have been removed, since these windows no longer exist: gtk_tree_view_get_bin_window(), gtk_viewport_get_bin_window(), gtk_viewport_get_view_window().

Widgets are now visible by default

The default value of GtkWidget:visible in GTK 4 is TRUE, so you no longer need to explicitly show all your widgets. On the flip side, you need to hide widgets that are not meant to be visible from the start. The only widgets that still need to be explicitly shown are toplevel windows, dialogs and popovers.

A convenient way to remove unnecessary property assignments like this from ui files it run the command gtk4-builder-tool simplify --replace on them.

The function gtk_widget_show_all(), the GtkWidget:no-show-all property and its getter and setter have been removed in GTK 4, so you should stop using them.

Adapt to changes in animated hiding and showing of widgets

Widgets that appear and disappear with an animation, such as GtkInfoBar, GtkRevealer no longer use gtk_widget_show() and gtk_widget_hide() for this, but have gained dedicated APIs for this purpose that you should use instead, such as gtk_info_bar_set_revealed().

Stop passing commandline arguments to gtk_init

The gtk_init() and gtk_init_check() functions no longer accept commandline arguments. Just call them without arguments. Other initialization functions that were purely related to commandline argument handling, such as gtk_parse_args() and gtk_get_option_group(), are gone.

The APIs to initialize GDK separately are also gone, but it is very unlikely that you are affected by that.

GdkPixbuf is deemphasized

A number of GdkPixbuf-based APIs have been removed. The available replacements are either using GIcon, or the newly introduced GdkTexture or GdkPaintable classes instead. If you are dealing with pixbufs, you can use gdk_texture_new_for_pixbuf() to convert them to texture objects where needed.

GtkWidget event signals are removed

Event controllers and GtkGestures have already been introduced in GTK 3 to handle input for many cases. In GTK 4, the traditional widget signals for handling input, such as GtkWidget::motion-event or GtkWidget::event have been removed. All event handling is done via event controllers now.

Invalidation handling has changed

Only gtk_widget_queue_draw() is left to mark a widget as needing redraw. Variations like gtk_widget_queue_draw_rectangle() or gtk_widget_queue_draw_region() are no longer available.

Stop using GtkWidget::draw

The GtkWidget::draw signal has been removed. Widgets need to implement the Gtk.WidgetClass.snapshot function now. Connecting draw signal handlers is no longer possible. If you want to keep using cairo for drawing, use gtk_snapshot_append_cairo().

Window content observation has changed

Observing widget contents and widget size is now done by using the GtkWidgetPaintable object instead of connecting to widget signals.

Monitor handling has changed

Instead of a monitor number, GdkMonitor is now used throughout. gdk_display_get_monitors() returns the list of monitors that can be queried or observed for monitors to pass to APIs like gtk_window_fullscreen_on_monitor().

Adapt to monitor API changes

The gdk_monitor_get_workarea() API is gone. Individual backends can still provide this information, for example with GdkX11.Monitor.get_workarea.

If you use this information, your code should check which backend is in use and then call the appropriate backend API.

Adapt to cursor API changes

Use the new gtk_widget_set_cursor() function to set cursors, instead of setting the cursor on the underlying window directly. This is necessary because most widgets don’t have their own window anymore, turning any such calls into global cursor changes.

For creating standard cursors, gdk_cursor_new_for_display() has been removed, you have to use cursor names instead of GdkCursorType. For creating custom cursors, use gdk_cursor_new_from_texture(). The ability to get cursor images has been removed.

Adapt to icon size API changes

Instead of the existing extensible set of symbolic icon sizes, GTK now only supports normal and large icons with the GtkIconSize enumeration. The actual sizes can be defined by themes via the CSS property -gtk-icon-size.

GtkImage setters like gtk_image_set_from_icon_name() no longer take a GtkIconSize argument. You can use the separate gtk_image_set_icon_size() setter if you need to override the icon size.

The :stock-size property of GtkCellRendererPixbuf has been renamed to GtkCellRendererPixbuf:icon-size.

Adapt to changes in the GtkAssistant API

The :has-padding property is gone, and GtkAssistant no longer adds padding to pages. You can easily do that yourself.

Adapt to changes in the API of GtkEntry, GtkSearchEntry and GtkSpinButton

The GtkEditable interface has been made more useful, and the core functionality of GtkEntry has been broken out as a GtkText widget. GtkEntry, GtkSearchEntry, GtkSpinButton and the new GtkPasswordEntry now use a GtkText widget internally and implement GtkEditable. In particular, this means that it is no longer possible to use GtkEntry API such as gtk_entry_grab_focus_without_selecting() on a search entry.

Use GtkEditable API for editable functionality, and widget-specific APIs for things that go beyond the common interface. For password entries, use GtkPasswordEntry. As an example, gtk_spin_button_set_max_width_chars() has been removed in favor of gtk_editable_set_max_width_chars().

Adapt to changes in GtkOverlay API

The GtkOverlay :pass-through child property has been replaced by the GtkWidget:can-target property. Note that they have the opposite sense: pass-through == !can-target.

Use GtkFixed instead of GtkLayout

Since GtkScrolledWindow can deal with widgets that do not implement the GtkScrollable interface by automatically wrapping them into a GtkViewport, GtkLayout is redundant, and has been removed in favor of the existing GtkFixed widget.

Adapt to search entry changes

The way search entries are connected to global events has changed; gtk_search_entry_handle_event() has been dropped and replaced by gtk_search_entry_set_key_capture_widget() and gtk_event_controller_key_forward().

Adapt to GtkScale changes

The default value of GtkScale:draw-value has been changed to FALSE. If you want your scales to draw values, you will have to set this property explicitly now.

gtk4-builder-tool can help with this conversion, with the --3to4 option of the simplify command.

Stop using gtk_window_activate_default()

The handling of default widgets has been changed, and activating the default now works by calling gtk_widget_activate_default() on the widget that caused the activation. If you have a custom widget that wants to override the default handling, you can provide an implementation of the “default.activate” action in your widgets’ action groups.

Stop using gtk_widget_grab_default()

The function gtk_widget_grab_default() has been removed. If you need to mark a widget as default, use gtk_window_set_default_widget() directly.

Stop setting ::has-default and ::has-focus in .ui files

The special handling for the :has-default and :has-focus properties has been removed. If you want to define the initial focus or the the default widget in a .ui file, set the GtkWindow:default-widget or GtkWindow:focus-widget properties of the toplevel window.

Stop using the GtkWidget::display-changed signal

To track the current display, use the GtkWidget:root property instead.

GtkPopover::modal has been renamed to autohide

The modal property has been renamed to GtkPopover:autohide.

gtk-builder-tool can assist with the rename in ui files.

gtk_widget_get_surface has been removed

gtk_widget_get_surface() has been removed. Use gtk_native_get_surface() in combination with gtk_widget_get_native() instead.

gtk_widget_is_toplevel has been removed

gtk_widget_is_toplevel() has been removed. Use GTK_IS_ROOT, GTK_IS_NATIVE or GTK_IS_WINDOW instead, as appropriate.

gtk_widget_get_toplevel has been removed

gtk_widget_get_toplevel() has been removed. Use gtk_widget_get_root() or gtk_widget_get_native() instead, as appropriate.

GtkEntryBuffer ::deleted-text has changed

To allow signal handlers to access the deleted text before it has been deleted, the GtkEntryBuffer::deleted-text signal has changed from G_SIGNAL_RUN_FIRST to G_SIGNAL_RUN_LAST. The default handler removes the text from the GtkEntryBuffer.

To adapt existing code, use g_signal_connect_after() or G_CONNECT_AFTER when using g_signal_connect_data() or g_signal_connect_object().

GtkMenu, GtkMenuBar and GtkMenuItem are gone

These widgets were heavily relying on X11-centric concepts such as override-redirect windows and grabs, and were hard to adjust to other windowing systems.

Menus can already be replaced using GtkPopoverMenu in GTK 3. Additionally, GTK 4 introduces GtkPopoverMenuBar to replace menubars. These new widgets can only be constructed from menu models, so the porting effort involves switching to menu models and actions.

Tabular menus were rarely used and complicated the menu code, so they have not been brought over to GtkPopoverMenu. If you need complex layout in menu-like popups, consider directly using a GtkPopover instead.

Since menus are gone, GtkMenuButton also lost its ability to show menus, and needs to be used with popovers in GTK 4.

GtkToolbar has been removed

Toolbars were using outdated concepts such as requiring special toolitem widgets. Toolbars should be replaced by using a GtkBox with regular widgets instead and the “toolbar” style class.

GtkAspectFrame is no longer a frame

GtkAspectFrame is no longer derived from GtkFrame and does not place a label and frame around its child anymore. It still lets you control the aspect ratio of its child.

Stop using custom tooltip windows

Tooltips no longer use GtkWindows in GTK 4, and it is no longer possible to provide a custom window for tooltips. Replacing the content of the tooltip with a custom widget is still possible, with gtk_tooltip_set_custom().

Switch to the new Drag-and-Drop api

The source-side Drag-and-Drop apis in GTK 4 have been changed to use an event controller, GtkDragSource. Instead of calling gtk_drag_source_set() and connecting to GtkWidget signals, you create a GtkDragSource object, attach it to the widget with gtk_widget_add_controller(), and connect to GtkDragSource signals. Instead of calling gtk_drag_begin() on a widget to start a drag manually, call gdk_drag_begin(). The ::drag-data-get signal has been replaced by the GtkDragSource::prepare signal, which returns a GdkContentProvider for the drag operation.

The destination-side Drag-and-Drop API in GTK 4 have also been changed to use an event controller, GtkDropTarget. Instead of calling gtk_drag_dest_set() and connecting to GtkWidget signals, you create a GtkDropTarget object, attach it to the widget with gtk_widget_add_controller(), and connect to GtkDropTarget signals. The ::drag-motion signal has been renamed to GtkDropTarget::accept, and instead of ::drag-data-received, you need to use async read methods on the GdkDrop object, such as gdk_drop_read_async() or gdk_drop_read_value_async().

Adapt to GtkIconTheme API changes

gtk_icon_theme_lookup_icon() returns a GtkIconPaintable object now, instead of a GtkIconInfo. It always returns a paintable in the requested size, and never fails. A number of no-longer-relevant lookup flags and API variants have been removed.

Note that while GTK 4 is moving towards GdkPaintable as a primary API for paintable content, it is meant to be a ‘pure’ content producer, therefore a GtkIconPaintable for a symbolic icon will not get recolored depending on the context it is rendered it. To properly render a symbolic icon that is provided in the form of a GtkIconPaintable (this can be checked with gtk_icon_paintable_is_symbolic()), you have to call gtk_icon_paintable_get_icon_name() and set the icon name on a GtkImage.

Adapt to GtkImage changes

GtkPictures behaviour was “split out” of GtkImage as the latter was covering too many use cases; if you’re loading an icon, GtkImage in GTK3 and GTK4 are perfectly equivalent. If you are loading a more complex image asset, like a picture or a thumbnail, then GtkPicture is the appropriate widget.

One noteworthy distinction is that while GtkImage has its size computed by GTK, GtkPicture lets you decide about the size.

Update to GtkFileChooser API changes

GtkFileChooser moved to a GFile-based API. If you need to convert a path or a URI, use g_file_new_for_path(), g_file_new_for_commandline_arg(), or g_file_new_for_uri(); similarly, if you need to get a path, name or URI from a GFile, use g_file_get_path(), g_file_get_basename() or g_file_get_uri(). With the removal or path and URI-based functions, the “local-only” property has been removed; GFile can be used to access non-local as well as local resources.

The GTK_FILE_CHOOSER_ACTION_CREATE_FOLDER action has been removed. Use GTK_FILE_CHOOSER_ACTION_SELECT_FOLDER, instead. If a new folder is needed, the user can create one.

The “confirm-overwrite” signal, and the “do-overwrite-confirmation” property have been removed from GtkFileChooser. The file chooser widgets will automatically handle the confirmation of overwriting a file when using GTK_FILE_CHOOSER_ACTION_SAVE.

GtkFileChooser does not support a custom extra widget any more. If you need to add extra widgets, use gtk_file_chooser_add_choice() instead.

GtkFileChooser does not support a custom preview widget any more.

Stop using blocking dialog functions

GtkDialog, GtkNativeDialog, and GtkPrintOperation removed their blocking API using nested main loops. Nested main loops present re-entrancy issues and other hard to debug issues when coupled with other event sources (IPC, accessibility, network operations) that are not under the toolkit or the application developer’s control. Additionally, “stop-the-world” functions do not fit the event-driven programming model of GTK.

You can replace calls to gtk_dialog_run() by specifying that the GtkDialog must be modal using gtk_window_set_modal() or the GTK_DIALOG_MODAL flag, and connecting to the GtkDialog::response signal.

Stop using GtkBuildable API

All the GtkBuildable API was made private, except for the getter function to retrieve the buildable ID. If you are using gtk_buildable_get_name() you should replace it with gtk_buildable_get_buildable_id().

Adapt to GtkAboutDialog API changes

GtkAboutDialog now directly derives from GtkWindow, the GtkDialog API can no longer be used on it.

Adapt to GtkTreeView and GtkIconView tooltip context changes

The getter functions for retrieving the data from GtkTreeView and GtkIconView inside a GtkWidget::query-tooltip signal do not take the pointer coordinates as inout arguments any more, but as normal in ones.

See: gtk_tree_view_get_tooltip_context(), gtk_icon_view_get_tooltip_context()

Adapt to GtkPopover changes

In GTK 3, a GtkPopover could be attached to any widget, using the relative-to property. This is no longer possible in GTK 4. The parent widget has to be aware of its popover children, and manage their size allocation. Therefore, only widgets with dedicated popover support can have them, such as GtkMenuButton or GtkPopoverMenuBar.

If you want to make a custom widget that has an attached popover, you need to call gtk_popover_present() in your Gtk.WidgetClass.size_allocate vfunc, in order to update the positioning of the popover.

Stop using GtkFileChooserButton

The GtkFileChooserButton widget was removed, due to its shortcomings in the user interaction. You can replace it with a simple GtkButton that shows a GtkFileChooserNative dialog when clicked; once the file selection has completed, you can update the label of the GtkButton with the selected file.

Adapt to changed GtkSettings properties

In GTK 3 the GtkSettings:gtk-cursor-aspect-ratio property of GtkSettings was a float. In GTK 4 this has been changed to a double.

Changes to consider after the switch

GTK 4 has a number of new features that you may want to take advantage of once the dust has settled over the initial migration.

Consider porting to the new list widgets

In GTK 2 and 3, GtkTreeModel and GtkCellRenderer and widgets using these were the primary way of displaying data and lists. GTK 4 brings a new family of widgets for this purpose that uses list models instead of tree models, and widgets instead of cell renderers.

To learn more about the new list widgets, you can read the List Widget Overview.