ImageSize works fine as an option for Show when used in a call.


enter image description here

But SetOptions does not know about that:

SetOptions::optnf: ImageSize is not a known option for Show.

Does anyone understand this?

V11.0.1 on Win 7 x64

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ if you want a workaround, use something like show[x__] := Show[x, ImageSize -> 400] $\endgroup$
    – Jason B.
    Feb 28, 2017 at 2:18

2 Answers 2


I have a vague memory of this question being asked before but I cannot find it now.

Show has no formal options; that is Options[Show] is {}. (As MB1965 just posted I see.) I think this makes sense as Show does not really have any options of its own; it instead appends the options it is given to the compound Graphics or Graphics3D that it creates. It does not make sense for it to append a large list of default parameters to everything it creates; that would defeat the purpose of the construct IMHO.

Even if we Unprotect Show and give it Options it doesn't know what to do with these; they are not applied. However because of this if we wish we can modify the function to make it append our options.


Show[x___] :=
  Block[{$innerShow = True},
    Show[x, Options @ Show]
  ] /; ! TrueQ[$innerShow]

Options[Show] = {ImageSize -> 222};

This is a settable option now; i.e. you can use SetOptions[Show, ImageSize -> 900] etc.


p1 = Plot[Sin[x], {x, 0, 2 Pi}];

Show[p1, Background -> LightBlue]

Rasterize[%, "RasterSize"]

enter image description here

{222, 125}

Jason B.'s recommendation of a user show replacement is of course "safer" but what's the fun in that? :^) You can give it settable Options if you wish:

Options[show] = {ImageSize -> 222};

show[x__] := Show[x, Options @ show]

Look at Options:

In[683]:= Options[Show]

Out[683]= {}

SetOptions only works (at least for what I've seen) when the option is represented in Options for the symbol.

Show is simply a special beast that combines the graphics objects passed with any options inserted. It does not track the entire set of options any of the graphics it knows about can take.


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