Ask Ubuntu is a question and answer site for Ubuntu users and developers. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I was playing around with some settings, and now I need to reset GNOME to it's defaults - how do I do that?

share|improve this question
up vote 100 down vote accepted

For Unity-related configuration resetting, take a look here.

This command will delete your configuration files. Once it's run there is no going back!

Still with me?


Run the following in the terminal or Alt+F2:

rm -rf .gnome .gnome2 .gconf .gconfd .metacity

That will do is remove all the GNOME2 configuration settings. Log out, and log back in. You'll be back to a stock desktop.

You can backup before playing around with your settings in the future:

mkdir ./.old-gnome-config && mv ./.gnome* ./.old-gnome-config && mv .gconf* ./.old-gnome-config && mv ./.metacity ./.old-gnome-config


If your config isn't worth saving run the following:

rm -rf .gnome .gnome2 .gconf .gconfd .metacity .cache .dbus .dmrc .mission-control .thumbnails ~/.config/dconf/user ~.compiz*

To back up and reset GNOME3:

mkdir ./.old-gnome-config/ && mv ./.gnome* ./.old-gnome-config/ && mv .gconf* ./.old-gnome-config/ && mv ./.metacity ./.old-gnome-config/ && mv ./.cache ./.old-gnome-config/ && mv ./.dbus ./.old-gnome-config/ && mv ./.dmrc ./.old-gnome-config/ && mv ./.mission-control ./.old-gnome-config/ && mv ./.thumbnails ./.old-gnome-config/   && mv ~/.config/dconf/* ./.old-gnome-config/
share|improve this answer
more concise and precise to use a for loop for the backup step, e.g. for f in .gnome .gnome2 .gconf .gconfd .metacity; do mv $f ${f}.bak; done or mkdir -p ~/.backup-gnome-config/ && for f in .gnome .gnome2 .gconf .gconfd .metacity; do mv $f ~/.backup-gnome-config/; done – hobs Aug 13 '12 at 1:38

Fore me those directories were not sufficient - I had to delete ~/.config/dconf/user as well.

This helped for me in those two cases:

  • gnome-panel config broken (tried to specify location "left" for one gnome panel, it immediately crashed and could not be started afterwards)
  • GTK Theme and GTK Icons broken (nevertheless the selection via e. g. gnome-tweak-tool, it remained in ugly Windows-style grey look and icons were standard gnome - I have no clue how this was provoked, it appeared suddenly after login)

This corresponds to the Gnome 3 Fallback Mode I use on Linux Mint 12 Lisa (Oneiric based). But the GTK problem persisted in all other login modes as well (MATE, Gnome 3 Standard)!

I am unsure now to which mechanism the ~/.config/dconf/user file corresponds, as I found out that in Linux Mint only mateconf-editor is installed by default but outfitted with the title and icon of gconf-editor from Natty! After installing gconf-editor additionally, this one is titled identically but has a different (new) icon. But don't rely on this icon stories, because this will rely on the icon theme which is Mint-X-Dark for me.

Theory says that dconf is the successor for gconf, but I found no information regarding the GUIs.

share|improve this answer
Yes, I had the same problem and needed to remove ~/.config/dconf aswell – wim Jan 4 '12 at 23:25
+1 for the info, but it'd be even better if you rewrite to incorporate your edits – djeikyb Jan 5 '12 at 22:23
This helped with the missing Lock Screen menu option (which is probably down to yet another corrupt dconf config) – prusswan Nov 30 '12 at 4:59
Saved my life! Spent the last two hours unable to load my Ubuntu desktop, but deleting ~/.config/dconf/user did the trick – leopld Jan 9 '15 at 14:52

If you want to reset your GNOME specific settings to default as if you had never logged in try

rm -rf .gnome .gnome2 .gconf .gconfd .metacity
share|improve this answer

Logout, switch to command line (Alt+ctrl+F1), login, do: rm -rf .gnome .gnome2 .gconf .gconfd .metacity, switch to X (Alt+ctrl+F7).

Just like they described it here:

share|improve this answer

You can use the mv command.

The syntax is:

mv source1 source2 source3 ... sourceN destination

So in your case:

mv .gnome .gnome2 .gconf .gconfd .metacity .cache \
.dbus .dmrc .mission-control .thumbnails .config/dconf/user \
.compiz* ./.old-gnome-config/

The last one is the destination.

share|improve this answer
Explanation: This is moving the old configuration to backup destination ./.old-gnome-config/ it needs to be run in the home directory. Afterwards ubuntu restores the default configuration. – mondjunge Oct 21 '13 at 10:22

I did :

cd $HOME
cd .config
rm -R *
sudo reboot

And I've found my desktop like the first day I create my user account, but all my software params are the same (firefox, thunderbird, filezilla...)

share|improve this answer
This helped me. Thank YOUUU!! – thednp Sep 8 '15 at 17:54
Its help me.. Thanks @P-J Marquet – Amitabha Biswas Mar 30 at 10:59

Reinstalling gnome-tweak-tool resolved this issue and after reboot the GNOME 3 come up again. Actually gnome-tweak-tool was installed but the system detects it as a uninstalled one.

share|improve this answer
Are you saying that reinstalling gnome-tweak-tool actually resets GNOME settings to their defaults? Or just that it can fix some problems that might motivate someone to want to reset them? – Eliah Kagan Oct 7 '12 at 12:15

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.