Ubuntu 10.4: How to place the window close button on the right again

Ubuntu 10.4 is live. I’ve been using Ubuntu for around 4 to 5 years, and I am a pretty happy user.

From my point of view, the big problem I found on this release (which I just installed 5 minutes ago) is that they changed the window buttons from the right to the left side of the window. I think 95% of the users are used to the buttons on the right side, and I don’t see the point on moving them to the left.

Anyway, I don’t like it, so I searched around, and I’ve found a quick and easy solution.

Press Alt+F2, then type gconf-editor and press enter. That’s for opening the configuration editor.

Once on this editor, in the item tree at the left, you have to look for this path  app -> metacity -> general and you doubleclick on the field named  button_layout.

Then, you have only to change the value field and put this:


You save the changes, and voila!! all the windows reconfigured again!

Now all the windows show the minimize, maximize and close buttons on the right again 😉

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  1. Eric
    30/04/2010 at 7:40 pm Permalink

    Thanks. Change for change’s sake is one of the reasons I can’t stand Microsoft software anymore. Let’s hope Canonical starts to calm down on random UI changes.

  2. J
    01/05/2010 at 1:52 am Permalink

    Thanks for this!!! I love ubuntu, but changing just to be different when its been on the right side for so long is ridiculous. Anywho, thanks again!

  3. Moschops
    01/05/2010 at 10:37 am Permalink

    If I wanted conventional, I’d be using an Apple. Fuck moving it to the top right; how do I move it to the bottom left?

  4. steve
    01/05/2010 at 2:05 pm Permalink

    Useful, thank you

  5. Robert Clay
    01/05/2010 at 3:27 pm Permalink

    God bless for this. I love 10.4 but this one aspect was driving me crazy.

  6. Jamsh
    02/05/2010 at 12:06 am Permalink


    02/05/2010 at 1:45 am Permalink


  8. CryHavoc
    02/05/2010 at 5:49 am Permalink

    Thanks a lot. I also was wondering why can someone have such a silly idea.


  9. morrigan
    02/05/2010 at 6:58 am Permalink

    very good, I am glad that you helped us all be EFFICIENT again!! 😀

  10. Otar Chekurishvili
    02/05/2010 at 10:23 am Permalink

    That’s what I was missing from the old releases.

    Thank you!

  11. Pau Sánchez
    02/05/2010 at 11:16 am Permalink

    You are all welcome!

    I can’t understand why that change was released, to me it makes no sense. I’ve been reading lots and lots of complaints about it, but Canonical hasn’t changed their mind.

    Anyway, it was easy to fix, although they could just have opened a dialog box during installation and ask if you prefer buttons on the left, or on the right. It was really that simple to keep everyone happy.

    Thank you all for the comments 😉

  12. Aravind
    03/05/2010 at 5:09 am Permalink

    Excellent, thanks.

    Just one thing to add to the instructions:

    After you paste the “menu:minimize,maximize,close” text into the button_layout properties field, you have to hit the ‘ENTER’ button for the effect to come into place.

    The effect is instantaneous and does not require a reboot.

  13. Pau Sánchez
    03/05/2010 at 8:55 am Permalink

    @Aravind you are right, the changes are instantaneous, but I think I never said the opposite :p

  14. Joe Blow
    03/05/2010 at 3:03 pm Permalink

    Marry me

  15. Rob
    03/05/2010 at 7:25 pm Permalink

    Thanks mate, it much better now! 😀

  16. Yoshi
    04/05/2010 at 2:44 am Permalink


  17. Roy van Arem
    04/05/2010 at 3:32 am Permalink

    I just installed 10.4 and the very first thing I did was looking for a solution for this illogical placement of the minimize/maximize buttons. Especially if for example chromium still had these buttons on the top right side. Unbelievably annoying this was. If they want Ubuntu to be used by a larger audience, they shouldn’t start doing irrational things like this, cause people will be scared away from Ubuntu. If there would not have been a solution to this, I would has reverted my PC to Windows.

  18. Pravin
    05/05/2010 at 5:00 am Permalink

    Worked! Thanks!

  19. Stu
    05/05/2010 at 9:41 am Permalink

    What, are we trying to appeal to Mac users now? jeesh. Good tip!! found this on google, cuz I was just as pissed as everyone else about this.

  20. Rob Doan
    05/05/2010 at 4:11 pm Permalink


  21. Dan
    05/05/2010 at 5:13 pm Permalink

    Thank you SOOOO much!

  22. mickleberry
    05/05/2010 at 5:28 pm Permalink

    Thanks Codigo Manso! Much appreciated. What a good fix.

    Strange there’s no option to change it in the gui. i think the ubuntu people are trying to appeal to the broadest possible audience aren’t they. Trying to push the advanced users off to debian?

  23. Raxen
    06/05/2010 at 1:13 pm Permalink

    Much better! I had to chmod my %gconf.xml file located at ~/.gconf/apps/metacity/general to get this fix to work, but its working normally again. Thanks!

  24. Josh
    06/05/2010 at 2:32 pm Permalink


    You’re not advanced enough :) See, gnome’s philosophy is to hide options in that mess of a registry called gconf. I think what they don’t understand is that while yes, more options will confuse the “grandma” type user there is a large segment of the population that is not a “techie” but can figure things out by clicking around. That type of user is off to the internet and has to now muck around in the registry – that user is also, coincidentally, the most likely to try Ubuntu to see what this “Linux” thing is all about.

    I’m personally not a fan of gnome for that very reason, and Ubuntu taking something that is relatively standard and changing it because, to quote shuttleworth, “there’s a lot of things we plan to do with the right side” is just unbelievable for me. Then change it when you have those things ironed out and tested (although why these “things” couldn’t go on the left side is beyond me).

    It’s really too bad Ubuntu decided not to listen to their users on this one. I haven’t found anyone that liked this option, and people who are building boxes are setting it back manually. So all they did was set a default that most people will change anyway. Nice move guys.

  25. Ville
    08/05/2010 at 12:52 pm Permalink

    Here is some background for the debate about the right/wrong side.

    Back in the early nineties we lived in a happy world where window close button was in the same corner for everyone no matter what operating system they used. Then one operating system provider decided that they had strong enough position in the market that they could afford pissing off all their customers by changing the side and get a new generation of customers conditioned to be incompatible with the competitors’ products. And so they did.

    Over time some others copied this irrational change and Ubuntu was one of them. So from this background their recent change can be seen as a return from the wrong side back to the correct side. And this uproar it raised was a proof that the evil scheme of that one operating system provider had worked perfectly!

  26. Cygnus
    08/05/2010 at 5:15 pm Permalink

    Thanks dude! That was awesome to find!

  27. Kari
    12/05/2010 at 10:41 am Permalink

    I think every Ubuntu 10.4 installer will visit your site, thanks dude!

  28. Glenn
    12/05/2010 at 11:41 am Permalink

    Thank God!! I’ve always used the buttons on the right and this was driving me insane…

  29. Ed
    13/05/2010 at 3:49 am Permalink

    Thanks Paul for this help blog.
    I wonder what made developers think everyone would want to change to driving on the left?. My family members simply did not even see the top left icons and wondered how to close a window.

  30. Dharmin
    13/05/2010 at 11:09 am Permalink

    Hey thanks a lot dude!!

  31. Anderson Nobre
    18/05/2010 at 9:37 am Permalink


  32. veto
    19/05/2010 at 3:07 am Permalink

    Thanks a lot. That was so useful.

  33. ThunderB
    19/05/2010 at 3:43 am Permalink


    And to the 10.4 developers “If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it!”

  34. Mark Dees
    21/05/2010 at 5:59 pm Permalink

    Thanks, that was driving me nuts.

  35. Hia
    22/05/2010 at 9:01 am Permalink

    If you do not want to fiddle around with config files and prefer to do it on the gui, just right click on the desktop. Choose “Change Desktop Background”, and on the Theme tab, choose another one! ie. New Wave.

  36. Steve
    25/05/2010 at 10:42 am Permalink


  37. Warren
    01/06/2010 at 9:31 am Permalink


    To whatever bozo decided to make this change at Ubuntu: Phfplplplzzzzt!! :-)


  38. Paul
    03/06/2010 at 11:38 pm Permalink

    From my side I would also like to thank you for this quick fix. Bloody irritating going up to the right to close a window only to realize your on the wrong side of the screen

  39. Brian Holbrook
    04/06/2010 at 1:04 pm Permalink

    Ummm, if it’s that big of a deal to you all why not just change from the default theme? Ain’t that hard. Plenty of Windows-style GUI themes out there, and more than a couple are pre-installed. There has never been standard button placement in any *nix distro. Just seems silly to get up in arms over this when certain distros have been placing the buttons on the left by default for at least ten years. It’s Linux, if *you* don’t like it, *you* can change it. That’s what makes Linux preferable to other OS’s, no?

  40. Christopher
    06/06/2010 at 6:47 am Permalink

    Thank you so much for this, it was driving me insane!

  41. Corporal Tunnel
    11/06/2010 at 9:39 am Permalink

    Thank you! That was ridiculous.

  42. eesofgraham
    12/06/2010 at 7:18 pm Permalink

    Thank you so much for fixing what can best be described as a strange choice by the Ubuntu team.

  43. Manish Kamdar
    13/06/2010 at 12:58 am Permalink

    Thanks a lot….. It worked and I am back on track like before. It is quite a sudden change in the UI especially since we have been used to the right side for ages now.

  44. Angelo
    18/06/2010 at 6:58 pm Permalink

    Yeah they’re on crack with those window buttons! The buttons are supposed to be on the same side as the scroll bar. Stop trying to be like Apple and making things different just to be different.

  45. Mat
    22/06/2010 at 9:47 am Permalink


    And btw, I’m pretty new to Ubuntu, so don’t know actually how it works, but isn’t there a place you can vote against or for features? I guess all those feedbcks (even bad) should be heard by canonical developers!

  46. Pau Sánchez
    22/06/2010 at 10:24 am Permalink

    In fact, there is http://brainstorm.ubuntu.com/ where users can even vote which solution should be implemented to a particular problem or issue.

    I don’t know the URL of the issue (which should exist for sure)

  47. Rodndey
    27/06/2010 at 4:03 pm Permalink

    Thanks heaps. Simple instructions

  48. Jason P. Brown
    27/06/2010 at 6:56 pm Permalink

    Thanks for saving me a heap of time. I picked 10.4 to migrate my mother’s PC from Windows to Ubuntu and this alone would have been a deal-breaker.

    To Ubuntu – I’m all for giving lefty a whirl, but please, consider the aging parent of geeks when you make decisions like these, and the earful we are sure to get for your fancy changes!

  49. Jason P. Brown
    27/06/2010 at 6:56 pm Permalink

    Thanks for saving me a heap of time. I picked 10.4 to migrate my mother’s PC from Windows to Ubuntu and this alone would have been a deal-breaker.

    To Ubuntu – I’m all for giving lefty a whirl, but please, consider the aging parent of geeks when you make decisions like these, and the earful we are sure to get for your fancy changes!

  50. anony mouse
    30/06/2010 at 5:20 am Permalink

    The reason why Ubuntu has become a success is because it is a supported moderator of windows users going…. OMG are %^&^ing kidding me? Its a softcore interface that bridges the gap between windows and linux, and has made great strides for hardware support.

    However, the reality exists that not one person I know runs ubuntu 100% of the time. Regardless if the situation is running windows in a vm, running ubuntu in a vm, running wine or dual booting. Shuttleworths defense of the 10.10 plans and decision to move buttons to the left is bad. I don’t want to hunt and peck for my close button and have to consider if this app is under wine, java or ubuntu native or who is controlling the window painting before I choose where I’m going to close my window.

    Thank you for a nice simple solution, and we can only hope that future versions allow decisions on left/right orientation. How can such a simple thing annoy me so greatly? IDK, but it certainly does.

  51. Yuewang
    03/07/2010 at 9:12 pm Permalink

    This is an weird change

  52. Tony
    09/07/2010 at 8:46 am Permalink

    what on earth would make them put in on the left side is something I can never understand.

    Great fix- works and now I am happy again!

    Thank you.

  53. jake
    11/07/2010 at 10:53 am Permalink

    Thank you!

  54. forkless
    15/07/2010 at 7:57 pm Permalink

    Just wanted to say thanks!

    I really like the new look of Ubuntu, but this immediately started driving me nuts.

  55. Bright
    18/07/2010 at 4:13 pm Permalink

    Echo that. It was infuriating and pointless. Maybe Ubuntu is trying to find changes for the sake of changes. The OS is excellent and is close to polishing. Maybe they were bored?

  56. relayer
    20/07/2010 at 5:35 pm Permalink

    TY! TY!

  57. France
    24/07/2010 at 7:23 am Permalink

    Thx from France

  58. majster-pl
    25/07/2010 at 12:04 pm Permalink

    GOOD JOB MATE!! thanks!

  59. James Macfie
    15/08/2010 at 1:21 pm Permalink

    That was super simple and super helpful!

  60. Adrian
    20/08/2010 at 2:03 pm Permalink

    God thats been driving me CRAZY! Thanks so much!

  61. FrankT
    22/08/2010 at 8:54 pm Permalink

    Thank you.

  62. Nathan Hawks
    02/09/2010 at 6:34 pm Permalink

    Much appreciated, just what I was looking for.

  63. Jose
    06/09/2010 at 8:42 am Permalink

    Thanks!, I was looking for this.

  64. Dave S
    10/09/2010 at 10:40 pm Permalink

    Omigosh, at LONG LAST I can have my close button on the left, and min/max buttons on the right, just like my Amiga oh so long ago!! I always hated that MS grouping it with the min/max buttons has caused many screams of anguish and frustration and yes, lost $$ because of accidentally-closed windows when I was just trying to move them out of the way. I like what the Ubuntu developers did only because it motivated me to find a solution, and in doing so I discovered that Ubuntu can give back to me what I lost all those years ago.

  65. Chris
    23/09/2010 at 11:27 am Permalink

    I just updated 5 mins ago and couldn’t believe my eyes.
    Thanks for the quick fix for this… I can only call it bug..?

  66. Moby
    26/09/2010 at 11:16 am Permalink

    Thank U v.much i’v been searching about this.

  67. polebridge
    13/10/2010 at 6:17 pm Permalink

    It was like having the steering wheel on the wrong side of the car. I could get used to it after awhile, with some minor crashes along the way.

    I like having a spacer before the close “menu:minimize,maximize,spacer,close”

    Thanks for this fix.

  68. dashesy
    29/10/2010 at 11:20 am Permalink

    I hated Google for forcing their “everything bar” and for redirecting all my searches through their servers to spy my searching habits. For which I install two separate add-ons in Firefox!!
    I liked XP, but the new taskbar of Win7 just drives me crazy, so again I install a tweak to give me “somehow” the good old task-bar back.

    I hope Ubuntu does not fall into the same league. I love Ubuntu, I do not want MAC.

  69. sampath
    02/11/2010 at 11:52 pm Permalink

    thanku 2 google !!
    thanku…thanku very much Pau Sanchez

  70. Joebuntu
    06/11/2010 at 12:57 pm Permalink

    Great fix worked like a charm and necessary being I am a righty… Now if I can just figure out how to get my Thunderbird accounts back in order after upgrading to 10.4. Dont know if that is the default or a bug but all the accounts are scrambled and the format inbox drop down menus are way out of whack. Ahhhh the love of a challenge… I am working my way though the update re-adjustment phase…

  71. abrakadabra
    07/11/2010 at 3:42 pm Permalink

    That was nice and simple solution to a very irritating thingy.

  72. hakim
    09/11/2010 at 3:17 am Permalink

    Thanks for the guide. After install ubuntu 10.10 I just confuse why the ‘close’ button move to the top left? But, it back to right again after applying your tips :)

  73. Revo
    09/11/2010 at 9:12 am Permalink

    Thanks, that helped a lot.
    I killed applications using the terminal before i found the buttons on the left …

  74. o.O
    20/11/2010 at 1:59 am Permalink

    Wow.. Thanks a lot it worked.
    My comment here would not have made much of a difference, just wanted to thank for the info.


  75. seercan
    07/12/2010 at 12:43 pm Permalink

    eywallahhhh sonundaaa :)

  76. Warp3
    07/12/2010 at 1:07 pm Permalink

    Thank you! I just installed Ubuntu 10.10 and the “MacOS X” style button placement was getting annoying fast. None of the other Linux distros I’ve used do that by default. Then again, there is a lot about Ubuntu 10.10’s interface that reminds me of MacOS X, so perhaps that was the intent.

  77. sree...
    07/12/2010 at 11:15 pm Permalink

    this helps us to gettin more user friendly ubuntu… thanks for the article…. for what the developers making such a foolish changes in ubuntu….? all the users are left handers…? huuu…?
    please make user friendly apps…. that will help ubutu to reach to lakhs of people…

  78. sarmatis
    14/12/2010 at 11:11 pm Permalink

    The problem is still present in version 10.10. Thanks for quick fix that give me peace again.

  79. Gunwant Singh
    22/12/2010 at 10:05 am Permalink

    Thanks, that was helpful.

  80. Subash
    23/12/2010 at 11:28 pm Permalink

    That was clean solution to my problem. Thank you !

  81. Ajith
    06/01/2011 at 11:16 pm Permalink

    Great, Thanks

  82. harichirayil
    15/02/2011 at 12:21 pm Permalink

    thanks dear…………..

  83. bobSaget
    19/02/2011 at 8:31 pm Permalink

    Thank you, Thank You, THANK YOU!!!!

  84. Only the Right is Right
    26/02/2011 at 3:52 pm Permalink

    Thanks, never too late to make everyone change to the Right!

  85. VLad
    09/03/2011 at 12:34 am Permalink

    Thanx, man. Really quick and efficient fix, just what I was looking for.

  86. stranger from a strange land
    10/03/2011 at 6:11 pm Permalink

    Thank you! I’m a first time Ubuntu user. Had been using Windows and MacOSX before. I always hated the button placement on the left as in MacOSX. It’s much more difficult and exhaustive for the wrist when you’re right-handed.

  87. Stella
    25/03/2011 at 8:08 am Permalink

    Thanks for this. Much appreciated.

  88. Leandro
    31/03/2011 at 5:49 pm Permalink

    Thank you.

  89. write
    27/04/2011 at 1:30 pm Permalink

    this is work… thanks…

  90. twincamspit
    14/05/2011 at 2:37 am Permalink

    Also works in 11.04. You’d think that they’d put the option in the Window preferences though ffs… Which also should be available from a right-click on a window titlebar IMHO to make it user-friendly. Ubuntu is supposed to be easy to use, I can see them losing potential Windows converts due to such thoughtlessness; or maybe there’s a copyright problem, as Microsoft loves copyrighting things that don’t belong to them, but c’mon, an easy option for GUI users to set this preference would make sense surely?

  91. skpendurti
    22/05/2011 at 6:14 pm Permalink

    Thanks that worked like a charm. Besides, I’ve set it to default.

  92. effah
    07/07/2011 at 11:21 pm Permalink

    this is incredible. am really satisfied with your solution. many thanks

  93. raptorak
    13/07/2011 at 6:56 am Permalink

    You sir, are a god

  94. arbit
    12/08/2011 at 10:24 am Permalink

    thanks 😀

  95. Roberto
    06/11/2011 at 3:11 am Permalink

    Thanks again a lot,
    used this info in 10.04 and now I have used this again in 11.10
    Hope I had not to use it anymore on next release…..

  96. Ravi
    10/12/2011 at 9:47 am Permalink


    Thanks a lot, my first day of ubuntu usage,

    really helping a lot, to open & close 100s of windows


  97. zendba
    29/01/2012 at 11:17 am Permalink

    Awesome tech tip…thank you….Windows has tons of dumb stuff…but close on the RHS is not one of them….thank you !!

  98. sonoloulou
    08/10/2013 at 2:53 am Permalink

    Hey guys, don’t know if you’re still there because it’s been a while since the first person posted.
    I haven’t read all the replies because I just discovered a way to do this. Yes, you do type in gconf-editor, to go megacity and then buttons, but instead of leaving the word “menu” there followed by a colon, you simply delete them, et voilà!
    Now my pages look more like they did on my Mac before it was stolen. So I’m happy. For people wanting to get back to the PC feel, well, just do the opposite.
    Have a happy day :)

  99. dumbass
    07/11/2013 at 10:50 am Permalink

    I can see gears icon after doing alt-f2 and ‘gconf-editor’ but when I click on it or double click on it, nothing happens.

    Those at coding centres do realize from all discussions that people dont like buttons on left but too arrogant to shift it on right again ? Hope they find something equally irritating placed on their vehicles. Buncha Bas***s