Left – or right – of centre?

One of the odd things in recent versions of Ubuntu has been the switch to place the window controls (minimize, maximize, and exit) in the top-left corner of the window instead of the previous location in the top-right corner.  For new users, coming from the Windows world, this would require a steep learning curve, since the mouse seems to have a will of its own when it comes to sliding up the window to the right in order to close an application.  If it makes you feel any better, old hands at Ubuntu Linux have exactly the same problem.

The switch actually created a lot of controversy among users.  This wasn’t helped by Mark Shuttleworth’s associated comment where he stated “This is not a democracy. Good feedback, good data, are welcome. But we are not voting on design decisions.” However, what was largely lost in the ensuing flame war was that the user interface is configurable.  It is really easy to change the location of the windows’ controls – and return them to their rightful (well, usual) place – in the top-right corner of the window.

The instructions are as follows:

1.  Open a Terminal window by navigating to Applications – Terminal

2.  Type the command:  gconf-editor

3.  Navigate to apps – metacity – general

4.  In the right window, right click on button_layout

5.  Select Edit key

6.  Change the Value field from maximize,minimize,close: to :minimize,maximize,close

7.  Press OK

8.  Close gconf-editor
(using the Close button that is now in the right corner of the window!)

9.  Close the Terminal window.

Note that in Step 6, we moved the colon from the right end of the field to the left end.  This switches the window controls from the left to the right side of the window.  At the same time, we changed the order in which the three options are displayed, once again to make the control sequence that which we normally expect.

And, no, I didn’t figure this out myself.  As indicated in one of my tips, Google is both your – and my – friend.  A search on how to move the window controls yielded many hits that essentially provided the above information, some in plain text, and others complete with screenshots for those for whom a picture really is worth a thousand (or 403) words.


Mark Shuttleworth: “This is not a democracy”

Quick and Easy Title Bar Button Side Switching in Ubuntu 10.04 (Lucid)/9.10 (Karmic)

Move Window Buttons Back to the Right in Ubuntu 10.04 / 10.10

This entry was posted in Tweaks. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s