Gromit-MPX, an on-screen annotation tool

about gromit-mpx

In the next article we are going to take a look at Gromit-MPX (GRaphics Over Miscellaneous Things). This is a tool for making annotations on the screen It works on any Unix desktop environment, under X11 and Wayland. Its main functionality is to support us in presentations. Normally, we would have to move the mouse pointer around the point of interest until, hopefully, everyone notices it. With Gromit-MPX, we can draw anywhere on the screen, highlighting a button or area on which we want to focus attention.

Gromit-MPX is a utility for making annotations on the entire desktop and windows that are displayed. The original annotation tool is Gromit and it also uses the function Multi-Pointer This tool is free and open source software.

The program runs in the background and it is activated on demand, allowing us to draw on all the applications that are running on the desktop. The drawing remains on the screen for as long as we want. In case we do not like the drawing, with the right button of the mouse, we can delete what we do not like.

General characteristics

gromit-mpx running on the web browser

The key features include:

  • Independent from the desktop. Gromit-MPX works with GNOME, KDE, XFCE, …
  • Hotkey based. The fundamental philosophy is that Gromit-MPX does not get in the way of the user’s way of doing things by placing a user interface widget on our desktop, as this can hide more important content.
  • Provides a user interface, but only in the form of a tray icon, although not in all systems.
  • The menu entries indicate the options to increase / decrease the thickness of the lines and increase / decrease the opacity of the lines, but this functionality need a pressure sensitive input device.
  • The F9 key toggles painting on the screen. This key is the one that will allow us to draw directly on the desktop and on any window that occupies that space. Then we can draw anywhere on the screen. Annotations are removed by pressing the Shift + F9 keys at the same time. To delete a part of the drawing, we will only have to use the right button of the mouse.
  • Undo / redo commands are cumulative. The maximum undo / redo depth is 4 strokes.
  • While Gromit-MPX comes with a default configuration, users can change the key combinations and the settings of the drawing tool.

These are just some of the features of this program. Can be consult all of them in detail from the project’s GitHub page.

Gromit-MPX installation as Flatpak

This program can be installed easily using its corresponding flatpak pack. To use this type of package, in Ubuntu 20.04 we will have to have the ability to use this type of package. If you still don’t have this technology enabled on your system, you can follow the guide written by a colleague in this blog. When we have available the possibility of installing flatpak packages, we will only have to open a terminal (Ctrl + Alt + T) and execute the command:

install gromit-mpx

flatpak install flathub net.christianbeier.Gromit-MPX

After installation, we can use the program launcher that we will find on our computer or write in the terminal (Ctrl + Alt + T) the following command to start the program:

launcher tool

flatpak run net.christianbeier.Gromit-MPX

Once the program has started, it will first offer us a welcome message on the screen. On the second screen we will see a list of the default keyboard shortcuts that we can use to work with this tool.

gromit-mpx start


For remove this program from our system, we will only have to open a terminal (Ctrl + Alt + T) and execute the command:

uninstall gromit

flatpak remove net.christianbeier.Gromit-MPX

Gromix-MPX is a basic annotation tool, but it can be very useful. The most outstanding feature of this program is its ability to activate / deactivate the functionality that will allow us to draw on the screen, then disable the drawing and later re-enable the drawing on the screen when we need it. For get more information about how to use or configure this tool, on the project’s GitHub page, they provide information about this.

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