How to Minimize Windows in Elementary OS

Elementary Feature

If you are new to Elementary OS, particularly if you are coming from a Windows (or Windows-like) operating system, you might be confused on how to minimize windows in Elementary OS. While it seems like a simple task, there is no minimize button for you to click, which makes it an almost impossible task. Here we will explain how minimizing windows work in Elementary OS and also how to change this behavior if it’s not to your liking.

Okay, So How Do I Minimize a Window in Elementary OS?

Whether you launched an app from the dock at the bottom of the screen or launched it from the Applications menu at the top of the screen, an icon for that application should be in the dock below.

Elementary Pre Minimise

Click the icon to minimize the window. If you want to use a shortcut key, press Win + H.

Elementary Minimised

Click the icon again to bring it back up. That’s the quick answer, and if that’s all you wanted to know, you can stop reading here.

But for our more patient readers, hold on a second, because the dock system is an elegant interface that’s worth exploring properly. When used as intended, the dock becomes the central driving force behind Elementary OS: you launch your apps from it, you control your windows with it – the dock is what ties the desktop together and is meant to be tailored to your habits.

To make the most of the dock, you should remove any icons you don’t use and add any icons that you will. For anything you won’t use, right-click on the icon and uncheck the box that says: “Keep in Dock.” The icon will then disappear, and the dock will grow shorter.

Elementary Keep In Dock

For anything you want to add to the dock, first open the Applications menu. Now you can add the program to your dock by either clicking and dragging the application from the menu onto the dock or by right-clicking on the application and choosing “Add to Dock” from the menu.

Elementary Add To Dock

Compare the default dock layout:

Elementary Dock Before

…with a dock tailored to a user’s habits:

Elementary Dock After

Once customized to your tastes, the dock serves up only the applications and functions you really use, driving everything from one place. It’s clean, simple, and elegant.

Fine, But I Want an Actual Minimize Button

Minimalism isn’t for everyone, and sometimes there are features you want to put back. Elementary Tweaks allows you to add a minimize button and gives power users further control over the user interface. To install Elementary Tweaks, just run the following three commands:

sudo apt install software-properties-common
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:philip.scott/elementary-tweaks
sudo apt install elementary-tweaks

Once installed, open System Settings, and in the Personal section, open Tweaks.

Elementary Tweaks

In the Appearance section, look for Layout in the Window Controls field. Open the drop-down box, from which you can choose multiple window layouts with minimize buttons, such as macOS, Windows, and Ubuntu.

Elementary Adding Button

Beyond just adding a minimize button, Elementary OS also has an extensive series of keyboard shortcuts built into its interface. These really add power to the desktop and are excellent for machines where mouse input may be cumbersome, such as ultra-mobile PCs.

Elementary Keys List

Tapping the Windows button reveals a list of the most important key combinations – a super-cool feature we’d like to see on other desktops!

Still not convinced about Elementary’s interface? Is it a bit too Mac-like for your tastes? Check out our list of the best Linux distros for Windows users. If you are still exploring Linux, check out some of the best Linux distros for beginners.

John Knight

John Knight is a writer, most notably for Linux Format (UK), Linux Journal (US), and Maximum PC (US). Outside of open source and general computing material, John has also written for automotive publications, and is currently writing material on vintage gaming and drumming. Other areas of interest include Psychology, French, and Japanese.

Subscribe to our newsletter!

Our latest tutorials delivered straight to your inbox