How to AutoHide the Unity Launcher In Ubuntu Natty

One of the (most hated?) features in Ubuntu is the Unity theme that changed almost every aspect of the familiar GNOME environment that you are used to. You can’t add custom icons to the panel or to the system tray, you have to change your workflow and get used to the dash. To make it worst, you have to put up with a launcher bar that stays on the side and won’t go away until you place a window on top of it. While you won’t be able to change much of the interface, you can, however, change the behavior of the launcher bar and get it to go out of sight (autohide) when not in use. Here’s the way:

1. Install Compiz Config Settings Manager (either via Ubuntu Software Center or Synaptic Package Manager).

2. Once installed, press “Alt + F2” and type “ccsm“.

ccsm-search

3. Scroll down the list until you see the icon “Ubuntu Unity Plugin”. Click on it.

ccsm-select-unity-plugin

4. Under the “Reveal Mode” section. You should be able to see the option to hide launcher. You can select “Never”, “Autohide”, “Dodge Windows” or “Dodge Active Windows”.

ccsm-autohide

5. The default option is “Dodge Windows”, but you can change it to “Autohide”, or “Never” if you want the launcher to be always there. There is no confirmation button. Once you have made the change, just click the Back button, or close the Compiz app.

That’s it. Your Unity Launcher bar should autohide itself when not in use. To retrieve it, simply move your mouse cursor to the left corner of the screen. It will take about 1 second for the launcher to appear again.

10 comments

  1. Annoyed with Unity, at the log in screen, I usually choose my name and then at the bottom, I choose Ubuntu Classic Desktop. That way I can always have the usual gnome panel and not Unity. Although the search feature is promising, the dock is extremely annoying/slow and the bar at the top is too OS X-like for my tastes.

    • Thanks for the tip! I can’t believe how bad the unity thing is. I tried “Ubuntu classic” like you suggested and now I have the old way back. Unity is something that I imagine executives like to see at board meetings, and it somehow made it into the product without anyone saying “This works terribly for real users”.

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