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

A ton of users are dissatisfied with the decision to change the buttons on the title bar, however, it's incredibly easy to change back and forth between the old (Karmic) look, and the new (Lucid Alpha) look. You do not have to be on Lucid to test out the new look. These commands work fine on Karmic and (probably) older.

First, open up a terminal.

If you want your Title Bar icons to look like they do in Karmic (RIGHT side), copy and paste the following code into the Terminal and press Enter

gconftool-2 --set "/apps/metacity/general/button_layout" --type string ":minimize,maximize,close"

If you want your Title Bar icons to look like they do in Lucid Alpha (LEFT  side), copy and paste the following code into the Terminal and press Enter:

gconftool-2 --set "/apps/metacity/general/button_layout" --type string "maximize,minimize,close:"

Method 2

To change the buttons layout from left side of the window to  the rightside , hit the  alt-F2 keys then type gconf-editor, then apps > metacity  > general > button layout > menu:minimize,maximize,close

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13 Responses

  1. saeed says:

    When i copied the cmd from your site i got the following error:

    Error setting value: Bad key or directory name: ““/apps/metacity/general/button_layout””: Must begin with a slash ‘/’

    when i copied it from ubunuforums, i got this error:

    Error setting value: Failed to contact configuration server; some possible causes are that you need to enable TCP/IP networking for ORBit, or you have stale NFS locks due to a system crash. See http://projects.gnome.org/gconf/ for information. (Details – 1: Failed to get connection to session: Did not receive a reply. Possible causes include: the remote application did not send a reply, the message bus security policy blocked the reply, the reply timeout expired, or the network connection was broken.)


  2. cm says:

    I would recommend using Ubuntu Tweak instead. You can drag and drop the button positions and things are less likely to go wrong.

  3. Victor says:

    Obviously you can also find this setting in the graphical configuration editor: gconf-edit.

    It’s just a one-character change, really. Put the colon to the left if you want buttons on the right, put the colon on the right if you want the buttons on the left. Bling bling!

  4. Sparkie says:

    You don’t need the quotes. I got the same error message, but managed to do the switchover with the following code:

    gconftool-2 –set /apps/metacity/general/button_layout –type string :minimize,maximize,close

  5. Dbdougla says:

    The problem is the “smart quotes” in the examples above. Instead of the slanted quotes, you must delete them and use regular, vertical ones.

  6. Paul Johnson says:

    Thanks very much for this advice!

    This tip worked extremely well for me, after changing the smart quotes to straight quotes. I prefer the Window Maker style of buttons, with the minimize on the left and close on the right, no maximize button. i can get that with the colon in the middle:

    gconftool-2 –set “/apps/metacity/general/button_layout” –type string “minimize:close”

  7. Spliff85555 says:

    Thank you very much, that helped immediately! 🙂

  8. peter says:

    The command in the post will hide the menu (with options to move the window to another workspace etc). To get the menu back, do the following:

    gconftool-2 –set /apps/metacity/general/button_layout –type string menu:minimize,maximize,close

  9. vol7ron says:

    Command didn’t work for me either, but I ran it as root. When I exited out of superuser, I ran it again and it worked correctly.

  10. Trevor says:

    Ah, that’s better, thanks

  11. Frank says:

    Cool and swift. thanks

  12. harm says:

    Isnt gconf-editor easier to use?

    First thing i do after a fresh install is some tweaks on Ubuntu with gconf-editor. the gnome-panel (autohide size , time) the buttons and other stuff.

    In gconf-editor scroll to metacity – general and see button layout.

  13. kronictokr says:

    havent been impressed with any “tweaking” tools since lucid

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