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I recently installed the latest version of Ubuntu, and I noticed that when you try to click on an icon in the launcher, unless you wait for one second or drag the icon to the right, you will not be able to rearrange the icon. What would the purpose of that be?

detailed diagram of the situation

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closed as not a real question by belacqua, jokerdino, RolandiXor, John S Gruber, jrg Aug 21 '12 at 1:22

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4 Answers 4

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The main reason that a simple drag does not reposition an icon is that the launcher needs to handle having more applications open and/or locked in the launcher than will fit on screen. So the default drag action is to scroll the launcher.

While it would be possible to have drag default to moving the icon when the launcher doesn't need to scroll, it would make the response to a drag dependent on what else you have open at the time, rather than having consistent behaviour all the time.

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Dragging vertically is used to scroll the icon list if not all icons fit on your screen.

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I just found the answer. The reason is because if you have more applications than the launcher can fit, then you can drag the icons vertically to scroll through the launcher.

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Why it's designed that way is a matter of speculation, but we can probably think of good reasons for most of those behaviors:

  1. It would be important, when moving icons, to avoid moving them unintentionally. The mouse pointer is often moving when the click is made, yet that click is probably most often just done to open the application. To have the icon dragged at that moment would be very inconvenient. A delay of some time - and a one-second delay does not seem unreasonable - to make sure that the click-and-hold is intended would prevent moving the icon when it is not intended.

  2. The need to drag the icon to the right seems reasonable, too. Perhaps it would make more sense to you if you thought of it as dragging the icon from the launcher, and then back to it. It makes the user's intention quite clear, so that Unity is not likely to misinterpret the gesture. It might work as well just to move the icon up or down, but this way works, too.

Suggestions to change such behaviors might be welcome, I suppose, to those who develop Unity, but these actions actually appear to me to be pretty well-thought-out. After having used Unity for about a year now, both of these actions seem very comfortable. Most important, though, is that they work. You can move the icons and rearrange the launcher, and the method is not excessively complex or involved. (Why do we drive on the right in some countries and on the left in others? There are historical reasons, yes, but I don't think, in the end, one way is better than another. It's just what one is accustomed to doing.)

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