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

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6 Answers 6

up vote 76 down vote accepted
+400

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?

GNOME2

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

GNOME3

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/
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8  
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

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
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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.

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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

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:

http://www.linuxjournal.com/content/resetting-gnomes-settings-ubuntu

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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.

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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

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.

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4  
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

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