How to move window buttons from left to right in Ubuntu 10.04

In the latest Ubuntu, the team have made the decision to move the window buttons (minimize, maximize and close) from the right to the left. I don’t agree with this change, so thankfully it’s not a difficult one to reverse.

To relocate the buttons back to their rightful place on the right, follow these steps.

If you don’t mind using the command line, this single command will switch the windows back for you, as pointed out by fran in the comments.

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

Otherwise, you can follow these steps to use a graphical interface

Open gconf-editor by typing


into the terminal

Navigate to /apps/metacity/general

Change the value


in the box labeled “button layout” to


Now, your buttons should be back the way they were in 9.10.


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  1. I like it. It’s odd because I’ve been a Windows user for 12 years, but it seems more instinctive already. I was talking to a few guys in IT today about it and I was saying how I think it might be something to with being right-handed and the natural feeling of moving the mouse to the left instead of the right.

    Any idea why they opted for this? It seems like something that’s going to isolate more people than it is draw people in.

    • The intention is to use the right hand side of the window for some other, as yet unspecified functions. I don’t understand why they stuck with it though, as this thread clearly shows that it’s not popular.

      But, so long as its easy to change back, I’m happy enough to watch this space and see what they do with it.

      • One of the things I noticed they got rid of was the little button that allowed you to choose “Only on this Workspace”/”Always on Top” etc.

        Now you have to right-click the window bar.

  2. what about?

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

    Faster isn’t it?

    • The command line generally is quicker, I’ll add that at the top, but some people like to use a GUI for things, I don’t know why, but they do!

      Thanks for pointing it out.

      • Just installed Ubuntu on the home desktop since Windows is giving some blue screens (to be fair, I did install Win7 on a four-year old machine…).

        Decided that for the mother’s profile I’d move the buttons back for the sake of stopping the inevitable looks of confusion and ensuing heart attacks.

        Anyway, what Fran said is easier. A lot easier. As in, woah.

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