How to Group Apps Together In Ubuntu Unity Launcher with Drawer

Despite of lots of hues and cries, Unity is still here even after more than one year. One of the main features of Unity is its launcher which resides (mostly) in the left of the screen and enables a user to place the application shortcuts here for a quick launch. By default the size of the icons in the launcher is quite big. Even if you tweak your Unity using configuration application like MyUnity, not more than 18 icons can be visible in the launcher at one glance (at least in my Dell Inspiron N4010).

Many users felt the need to group the similar applications together in the launcher and save some space. Some advanced users did manage to tweak Unity for it, but those tricks are not everyone’s cup of tea. Though there is no official app as such available from Ubuntu, a new app, Drawers, has emerged on the horizon that could be very well candidate of Ubuntu Software Centre in next release of Ubuntu 12.10.

Drawers is a an application which allows a user to group a bunch of application shortcuts together in one folder and hence free up the space from the main launcher. Drawers, as the name suggests like a table drawer, keeps files (read apps shortcuts) in it. And you can open the drawer to find the file (read launch the app).

There is a PPA available from the developers to install Drawer in Ubuntu. Open the terminal (Ctrl+Alt+T) and type the following commands:

Once you have Drawers installed, go to Unity dash and launch Drawers.

Drawers-Unity

As soon as it is opened, it will prompt you to create a new group/drawer. I named it “Browser” to keep all my web browsers in it.

Drawers-Unity

It creates a new drawer by the name of “Browsers”, in my case, in the location”~/.local/share/applications“. Go to this location and drag and drop this newly created drawer in the launcher.

Now we need to add applications by drag and drop in the drawer. Few things to note here:

1. Make sure that you have opened the newly created drawer.

2. You cannot drag and drop applications from launcher itself. You have to look in to the dash first and then drag and drop the application into drawer.

Once you have successfully dragged and dropped apps (or files or folders) in the drawer, you will be able to see them by left clicking on the drawer:

Drawers-Unity

3. Right click on the drawer shows the apps in text columns instead of icons:

Drawers-Unity

You can also rearrange the apps in the drawer by dragging them. Clicking on the settings button gives you a wide variety of configuration option such as renaming the drawer, using a custom icon, changing the font size, transparency etc.

Drawers-Unity

What are your views on Drawers? Do you think it is worth giving a try or you would stick to the way you were using the launcher previously. If you liked it, do you think it deserves a place in Ubuntu Software Centre? Do let us know of your views.

8 comments

  1. I really like the idea!

    I’m using it now and it works fine, need some polishing still though (e.g. drawers don’t close and open as expected in some cases). Drawers also open up rather slowley. Some keyboard shortcuts should also be very usefull.

    Looking forward to install Drawers from Ubuntu Software Centre in next release of Ubuntu 12.10!

    Regards,
    Magnus.

  2. Exactly what I’ve been looking for. I use an application called Bins in my Windows 7 environment, so glad to have found something similar for my Ubuntu desktop. About to download it, I’ll report back once I’ve given it a test run. :)

  3. i mainly use xfce and ubuntu but i love playing with unity and watching it evolve. this tool is one of the best new apps i have seen in a while for unity. i stopped by my parents place recently and put it on mom’s desktop pc. after i told her she said ” why when i just get used to my desktop do you add something new”. she laughed but she doesnt know she is part of a larger user experiment called desktop ubuntu linux. and she is doing fantastic for 71 years old :)

  4. I really like drawers and have been looking at other similar programs as well. While I have kind of gotten used to the new unity way with its search function, it is just not as convient as the old menu system. So I use drawer add to the Avant Window Manager now until I find something better. What I did was create a drawer called applications and then in there I created individual drawers for things like Accessories, Development, or System. Then I added the desktop links to those drawers. Now, it is much nicer to use. It did take awhile though as in unity you can just copy multiple desktop links and drag them to the drawer. You have to do it one application at a time. This is the fault of unity though, not drawers.

    The only negative things I have noticed is that annoying popup asking for a donation. While I agree a donation might be in order, it should be my idea and should not annoy me like it does. It should be in some kind of a help menu.

  5. FANTASTIC! I can’t believe how locked-down unity is. Drawers should be a feature that comes standard in Ubuntu. Unity’s sidebar is extremely frustrating to me because I have about 100 applications installed, and it takes me F-O-R-E-V-E-R to get to apps on the bottom, and you can’t even speed up the scroll speed. SO painful. I am a huge ubuntu fan, but unity is incredibly frustrating and clunky. Drawers helps me make unity workable. Thanks for this extremely clear how-to…

  6. Drawers or a similar functionality should be a basic component of the unity sidebar!! For example I mounted my external 1TB usb drive and the toolbar added for each drive an individual icon… E.g. I would expect one drawer icon with all my mounted devices!! Thx for the post!

  7. Fantastic!!!
    I’ve installed and started setting it up.
    I will also donate as this is definitely worth it.
    Also, I’m hoping the “drawer” icons will be customizable in the future.
    Say a “folder” icon for a drawer containing folders, an “appi” icon for applications etc.
    I first moved all of my app icons onto the desktop to avoid fishing for them in the launcher.
    But now I can setup “Applications”, “Places” and “System” drawers.
    The Drawers will be the only items on my launcher.
    Many thanks!!

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