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QGIS Configuration

QGIS is highly configurable through the Settings menu. Choose between Panels, Toolbars, Project properties, Options and Customization.

Panels and Toolbars

In the Panels‣ menu you can switch on and off QGIS widgets. The Toolbars‣ menu provides the possibility to switch on and off icon groups in the QGIS toolbar (see figure_panels_toolbars).

Figure Panels and Toolbars:


The Panels and Toolbars menu nix


Activating the QGIS Overview

In QGIS you can use an overview panel that provides a full extent view of layers added to it. It can be selected under the menu Settings ‣ Panels. Within the view is a rectangle showing the current map extent. This allows you to quickly determine which area of the map you are currently viewing. Note that labels are not rendered to the map overview even if the layers in the map overview have been set up for labeling. If you click and drag the red rectangle in the overview that shows your current extent, the main map view will update accordingly.


Show Log Messages

Since QGIS 1.8 it’s possible to track the QGIS messages. You can activate checkboxLog Messages in the menu Settings ‣ Panels and follow the messages in the General and Plugin tab during loading and operation.

Project Properties

In the properties window for the project under nix Settings ‣ Project Properties or win Settings ‣ Project Properties you set project specific options. These include:

  • In the General tab the project title, selection and background color, layer units, precision, and the option to save relative paths to layers can be defined. You can define the layer units (only used when CRS transformation is disabled) and the precision of decimal places to use.
  • The CRS Coordinate Reference System tab enables you to choose the CRS for this project, and to enable on-the-fly re-projection of raster and vector layers when displaying layers from a different CRS.
  • With the third Identifiable layers tab you set (or disable) which layers will respond to the identify tool. (See the Map tools paragraph from the Options section to enable identifying of multiple layers.)
  • The tab OWS Server allows to define information about the QGIS mapserver Service Capabilities, the Extent and the CRS Restrictions as well as the WFS Capabilities. Activating the checkbox Add WKT geometry to feature info response will allow to query the WMS layers.


mActionOptions Some basic options for QGIS can be selected using the Options dialog. Select the menu option Settings ‣ mActionOptions Options. The tabs where you can optimize your options are:

General Tab

  • checkbox Prompt to save project changes when required
  • checkbox Warn when opening a project file saved with an older version of QGIS
  • Change Selection and Background color
  • Change the QGIS Style
  • Change the icon theme (choose between ‘default’, ‘classic’ and ‘gis’)
  • Change icon size between 16, 24 and 32 pixel.
  • Change the menu size
  • Define double click action in legend (choose between ‘open layer properties’ and ‘open ‘) attribute table.
  • checkbox Capitalize layer names in legend
  • checkbox Display classification attribute names in legend
  • checkbox Create raster icons in legend
  • checkbox Hide splash screen at startup
  • checkbox Show tips at startup
  • checkbox Open identify results in a dock window (QGIS restart required)
  • checkbox Open snapping options in a dock window (QGIS restart required)
  • checkbox Open attribute table in a dock window
  • checkbox Add PostGIS layers with double click and select in extended mode
  • checkbox Add new layers to selected or current group
  • checkbox Copy geometry in WKT representation from attribute table
  • Attribute table behavior (choose between ‘Show all features’ (default), ‘Show selected features’,’Show features in current canvas’)
  • Attribute table row cache
  • Define Representation for NULL values
  • Prompt for raster sublayers selectstring. Some rasters support sublayers - they are called subdatasets in GDAL. An example is netcdf files - if there are many netcdf variables, GDAL sees every variable as a subdataset. The option is to control how to deal with sublayers when a file with sublayers is opened. You have the following choices:
    • ‘Always’: always ask (if there are existing sublayers)
    • ‘If needed’: ask if layer has no bands, but has sublayers
    • ‘Never’: never prompt, will not load anything
    • ‘Load all’: never prompt, but load all sublayers
  • Scan for valid items in the browser dock selectstring. The ‘Check extension’ option was designed to speed up the loading of a directory, which can be time-consuming when ‘Check file contents’ is activated and there are many files (tens or hundreds).
  • Scan for contents of compressed files (.zip) in browser dock selectstring This option was also designed to speed up the loading of a directory. You have the following choices:
    • ‘Basic Scan’: checks that the extension is supported by one of the drivers
    • ‘Full Scan’: opens every file to check it is valid
    • ‘Passthru’: don’t use this option it will be removed in the next QGIS version

GDAL tab

GDAL is a data exchange library for raster files. In this tab you can define which GDAL driver to be used for a raster format as in some cases more than one GDAL driver is available.

Plugins tab

  • Add Path(s) to search for additional C++ plugin libraries.

Rendering Tab

  • checkbox By default new layers added to the map should be displayed
  • Define Number of features to draw before updating the display.
  • checkbox Use render caching where possible to speed up redraws
  • checkbox Make lines appear less jagged at the expense of some drawing performance
  • checkbox Fix problems with incorrectly filled polygons
  • checkbox Use new generation symbology for rendering
  • Define the default Raster settings for visualisation: ‘RGB band selection’, checkbox Use standard deviation and ‘Contrast Enhancement’
  • Add/remove Path(s) to search for Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) symbols

Additionally you can define whether to save the path for svg textures absolute or relative in the General tab of the Settings ‣ Project Properties menu.

Map tools Tab

  • The Mode setting determines which layers will be shown by the Identify tool. By switching to ‘Top down’ or ‘Top down, stop at first’ instead of ‘Current layer’ attributes for all identifiable layers (see the Project properties section under: Projects to set which layers are identifiable) will be shown with the Identify tool.
  • checkbox Open feature form, if a single feature is identified
  • Define Search radius for identifying and displaying map tips as a percentage of the map width
  • Define Ellipsoid for distance calculations
  • Define Rubberband color for measure tools
  • Define Decimal places
  • checkbox Keep base unit
  • radiobuttonon Define preferred measurement units (‘meters’ or ‘feet’)
  • radiobuttonon Define preferred angle units (‘Degrees’, ‘Radians’ or ‘Gon’)
  • Define Mouse wheel action selectstring (‘Zoom’, ‘Zoom and recenter’, ‘Zoom to mouse cursor’, ‘Nothing’)
  • Define Zoom factor for wheel mouse

Overlays Tab

  • Define Placement algorithm selectstring for labels, symboly and diagrams (choose between ‘Central point’ (standard), ‘Chain’, ‘Popmusic tabu chain’, ‘Popmusic tabu’ and ‘Popmusic chain’)

Digitizing Tab

  • Define Rubberband Line color and Line width
  • Define Default snap mode selectstring (‘To vertex’, ‘To segment’, ‘To vertex and segment’)
  • Define Default snapping tolerance in map units or pixel
  • Define search radius for vertex edits in ‘map units’ or ‘pixel’
  • checkbox Show markers only for selected features
  • Define vertex Marker style selectstring (‘Cross’ (default), ‘Semi transparent circle’ or ‘None’) and vertex Marker size.
  • checkbox Suppress attributes pop-up windows after each created feature
  • checkbox Reuse last entered attribute values
  • Validate geometries Editing complex lines/polygons with many nodes can end up with very slow rendering. This is because the default validation procedures in QGIS can use a lot of time. To speed up rendering it is possible to select GEOS geometry validation (starting from GEOS 3.3) or to switch it off. GEOS geometry validation is much faster, but the disadvantage is that only the first geometry problem will be reported.

The next 3 options refer to the mActionOffsetCurve Offset Curve tool in Advanced digitizing. Through the various settings, it is possible to influence the shape of the line offset. These options are possible from GEOS 3.3 .

  • Join style for curve offset
  • Quadrantsegments for curve offset
  • Miter limit for curve offset


The CRS tab is divided in two areas. The first area allows to define the default CRS for new projects.

  • Select a CRS and Always start new projects with this CRS.
  • checkbox Enable on the fly re-projection by default

The second area allows to define the action, when a new layer is created, or when a layer without CRS is loaded.

  • radiobuttonoff Prompt for Coordinate Reference System (CRS)
  • radiobuttonoff Use project Coordinate Reference System (CRS)
  • radiobuttonon Use default Coordinate Reference System (CRS) displayed below

Locale Tab

  • checkbox Overwrite system locale and Locale to use instead
  • Information about active system locale

Network Tab

Figure Network Tab:


Proxy-settings in QGIS

  • checkbox Use proxy for web access and define ‘Host’, ‘Port’, ‘User’, and ‘Password’.
  • Set the Proxy type selectstring according to your needs.
    • Default Proxy: Proxy is determined based on the application proxy set using
    • Socks5Proxy: Generic proxy for any kind of connection. Supports TCP, UDP, binding to a port (incoming connections) and authentication.
    • HttpProxy: Implemented using the “CONNECT” command, supports only outgoing TCP connections; supports authentication.
    • HttpCachingProxy: Implemented using normal HTTP commands, it is useful only in the context of HTTP requests
    • FtpCachingProxy: Implemented using an FTP proxy, it is useful only in the context of FTP requests
  • Define Cache settings (path and size)
  • Define WMS search address, default is http://geopole.org/wms/search?search=\%1\&type=rss
  • Define Timeout for network requests (ms) - deeingebundenfault is 60000

Excluding some URLs can be added to the text box below the proxy-settings (see Figure_Network_Tab) by pressing the [Add] button. After that double-click into the just created URL-field and enter the URL you would like to exclude from using the proxy. Obviously the button [Remove] removes the selected entry.

If you need more detailed information about the different proxy-settings, please refer to the manual of the underlying QT-library-documentation at http://doc.trolltech.com/4.5/qnetworkproxy.html#ProxyType-enum.


Using Proxies

Using proxies can sometimes be tricky. It is useful to ‘trial and error’ the above proxy types and check if they succeed in your case.

You can modify the options according to your needs. Some of the changes may require a restart of QGIS before they will be effective.

  • nix settings are saved in a texfile: $HOME/.config/QuantumGIS/qgis.conf
  • osx you can find your settings in: $HOME/Library/Preferences/org.qgis.qgis.plist
  • win settings are stored in the registry under:


The customization tool is a new development in QGIS 1.8.. It lets you (de)activate almost every element in the QGIS user interface. This can get very useful if you have a lot of plug-ins installed that you never use and that are filling your screen.

Figure Customization 1:


The Customization dialog nix

QGIS Customization is divided into five groups. In checkbox Docks you find the dock windows. Dock windows are applications that can be started and used as a floating, top-level window or embedded to the QGIS main window as a docked widget (see also Panels and Toolbars). In checkbox Menus you can hide entries in the Menu bar. In the checkbox Status Bar features like the coordinate information can be daectivated. In checkbox Toolbars you can (de)activate the toolbar icons of QGIS and in checkbox Widgets you can (de)activate dialogs as well as their buttons.

With mActionSelect Switch to catching widgets in main application you can click on elements in QGIS you want to be hidden and find the corresponding entry in Customization (see figure_customization). You can also save your various different setups for different use cases as well. Before your changes are applied, you need to restart QGIS.