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My talk slides use a mostly-white background image (supplied by organizers) that has some visual patterns at the bottom. I would like to tell beamer to not cover these patterns (as it makes text less readable).

I can set horizontal margins with \setbeamersize.

But how can I set vertical margins for all my slides?

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@Papiro: I need to set vertical margins. – Alexander Gladysh Apr 21 '13 at 3:45
Beamer moves the text area down so it won't overlap with the title bar, but \textheight is not resized. This can be seen by putting \includegraphics[height=\textheight]{example-image} in a normal and plain frame. It seems the only solution to your problem is not to put anything at the bottom of the frame. – erik Apr 24 '13 at 11:54

For the top margin you may try to place a \vspace in the frametitle:


and for the bottom margin, a \vspace in the footline:

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Does not work for me. – Alexander Gladysh Apr 22 '13 at 9:00
A MWE would be useful. However, beamer loads the geometry package, so you can play around with the following and set the best result for you (it accepts negative values): \geometry{ paperwidth=\the\paperwidth, paperheight=\the\paperheight, hmargin=1cm,% vmargin=0cm,% head=0.5cm, % headsep=0pt,% foot=0.5cm % } – cacamailg Apr 22 '13 at 12:29
I didn't mentioned that but my solution can't work with a [plain] frame because there isn't any frame title nor footline in this kind of frame. Aren't you in this case? – GuillaumeM Apr 22 '13 at 15:01

Putting vertical space before the frame title does not solve the problem for the frames without a title.

You could instead try increasing the \headsep:

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