How to Hide the Top Bar and Side Panel in Ubuntu

You decided to try Ubuntu 22.04 and the Gnome desktop environment that comes with it. You feel, though, that Gnome's top bar and side panel are always in the way and would prefer your apps to take up the whole screen. Learn how to hide the top bar and side panel in Ubuntu 22.04.

Also read: Ubuntu 20.04 Review: ZFS, Snap Store and Faster Desktop

Hide the Side Panel (Dock)

  1. Press the Win key on your keyboard and type "dock" to filter the app list down to the sub-page you need in "Appearance Settings."
  2. Select the Settings entry that appears to open that page.
Hide Top Bar Ubuntu 02 Dock Search
  1. Enable the toggle next to "Auto-hide the Dock."
Hide Top Bar Ubuntu 03 Side Panel Hide

Permanently Hide the Side Panel

It is also possible to completely disable the side panel in Ubuntu 22.04. This is useful if you want to have a vanilla GNOME desktop without reinstalling the entire desktop environment. Follow the instructions below:

  1. Install the Gnome Extensions plugin:
sudo apt install gnome-shell-extensions
Hide Top Bar Ubuntu 04 Install Gnome Shell Extensions
  1. Open this program by going through your Applications Menu and typing "Extensions," which will display an icon with four jigsaw puzzle pieces that you can click to launch the program.
Hide Top Bar Ubuntu 05 Extensions Search Program
  1. The Extensions program will list all of the available add-ons that come with your default Ubuntu installation. Scroll down and toggle the "Ubuntu Dock" entry.
Hide Top Bar Ubuntu 06 Hide Side Dock

The side panel will be disabled, and any active window will be moved to the default Gnome dock in the Overview Menu.

Hide Top Bar Ubuntu 07 Desktop Without Dock

Also read: How to Boot to Recovery Mode (Safe Mode) in Ubuntu

Hide the Top Bar in Ubuntu

  1. Open your browser and visit Gnome's Extensions page.
  2. Click on "Click here to install browser extension" to install an add-on to Firefox that will enable one-click installation of extensions to your Gnome desktop.
Hide Top Bar Ubuntu 08 Gnome Extensions Website
  1. When Firefox asks if you want to allow the site to install an add-on, click "Continue to Installation."
Hide Top Bar Ubuntu 09 Install Browser Extension
  1. Do the same for the pop-ups that follow. When the first asks if you want to "Add GNOME Shell Integration," click "Add." When it informs you that "GNOME Shell Integration has been added to Firefox," click "Okay, Got It."
Hide Top Bar Ubuntu 10 Browser Extension Installed
  1. There's a search field under the link you used to install the GNOME Shell Integration extension in the previous step. Click on it and type "hide top bar" to find the Gnome extension you need.
Hide Top Bar Ubuntu 11 Gnome Extension Top Bar
  1. Select the extension to visit its page. Apart from an extended description and the option to download it, you'll also see a switch on the top right.
  2. Click on this switch to toggle it to "On" and install the extension.
Hide Top Bar Ubuntu 12 Extension Page Toggle
  1. Click on "Install" in the pop-up that appears over the page.
Hide Top Bar Ubuntu 13 Extension Page Confirm Install
  1. You should now see that the top bar has disappeared (if your Firefox is in maximized mode).
Hide Top Bar Ubuntu 14 Extension Page Toggled Option

Also read: 5 Ways to Hide Desktop Icons in Ubuntu

Selectively Hide the Top Bar in Ubuntu

It is also possible to only hide the top bar while inside the Overview Menu. Similar to hiding your desktop icons in Gnome, you need to install and modify a Gnome extension by following the below steps.

  1. Turn off any extension that currently hides your top bar. For example, I toggled off the "Hide Top Bar" extension.
Hide Top Bar Ubuntu 15 Extension Disable
  1. install "Hide Panel Lite" from the Gnome Extensions website.
Hide Top Bar Ubuntu 16 Hide Panel Lite Extension
  1. Modify how this extension works by going to its source directory:
cd /home/$USER/.local/share/gnome-shell/extensions/hide-panel-lite@fthx/
  1. Open and edit the "extension.js" file by running it with a text editor:
nano ./extension.js
  1. Find the "enable()" function and edit both of the "this.showing" and "this.hiding" variables to look something like this:
this.showing = Overview.connect('hiding', this._show_panel.bind(this));
this.hiding = Overview.connect('showing', this._hide_panel.bind(this));
Hide Top Bar Ubuntu 17 Extensions Js Modification
  1. Save your file and reload Gnome by restarting your computer. Your top bar will disappear when you are inside the Overview Menu.
Hide Top Bar Ubuntu 18 Overview Without Top Bar

Auto-Hiding in Action

Both elements of the desktop auto-hide based on the proximity of other windows. Firefox is running in windows mode in my screenshot and doesn't need the space occupied by the Dock and Top Bar, so they remain visible.

Hide Top Bar Ubuntu 19 Demo Desktop

As Firefox's window is moved to the left, the dock will auto-hide when they overlap.

Hide Top Bar Ubuntu 20 Demo Hide Side Panel

If you move the window towards the top, the same will happen with the top bar.

Hide Top Bar Ubuntu 21 Demo Top Panel

And if you move it to the top left, they'll disappear as the window approaches both. The same happens if you maximize a window.

Also read: Top 7 Debian-Based Distros to Try If You Want an Ubuntu Alternative

Frequently Asked Questions

GNOME Extensions in Firefox says "native host controller is not detected." Is Ubuntu broken?

No! The version of Firefox you are using with Gnome Extensions is in a sandbox environment, so the website cannot find the appropriate "gnome-extensions" helper program on your Ubuntu machine. To fix this, remove Firefox by running the following command: sudo snap remove firefox. Include the appropriate Firefox repository and install Firefox by running the following command: sudo add-apt-repository ppa:mozillateam/ppa && sudo apt install firefox.

Is it possible to install a GNOME Extension without a browser?

Yes! This is useful if you do not want to install a non-Snap browser to your machine just to add Gnome Addons. Install the gnome-extensions-manager program by running the command sudo apt install gnome-extensions-manager.

Will disabling the Side Panel break Ubuntu-specific features?

No! By default, the Ubuntu Side Panel is only a cosmetic dock on top of the regular Gnome desktop, so removing the Side Panel will not affect any existing features of Ubuntu. For example, it is still possible to use Alt + 1 to open the first pinned program in your Ubuntu dock.

Image credit: Safar Safarov via Unsplash Alterations and all screenshots by Ramces Red

Ramces Red
Ramces Red - Staff Writer

Ramces is a technology writer that lived with computers all his life. A prolific reader and a student of Anthropology, he is an eccentric character that writes articles about Linux and anything *nix.

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