What intrinsic purpose does the static unity panel hold for the OS?

There has to be a great reason for this thing to HAVE to be here. It ONLY goes away in fullscreen apps and I can't use everything fullscreen

Why can the unity panel not be hidden?


3 Answers 3


The Unity panel cannot be hidden because the code doesn't currently allow it. Why it doesn't allow it is because nobody has added the code to allow it. Is it written in stone that it has to be that way? I don't know. I doubt it. If you can come up with good solutions to the problems that arise when the panel is hidden, I'm very confident they will be considered. But it is important to not think about these things too subjectively. We can't consider one part of the puzzle at a time. We have to consider all of it simultaneously. For instance, we don't want the desktop to feel completely different if a window is maximized or not. That would be inconsistent and confusing.

The top panel is used for indications, and these are important. Because unlike other operating systems and desktops, notifications doesn't stay open. So you need a way to see that something has happened if you haven't been looking at the screen. This could be done differently, but then other issues tend to pop up.

The panel itself doesn't actually consume much extra space. Because it also saves space that was previously used by the window menu bars. So the screen real estate is just used somewhere else. If you have more than one window open, then it will often consume much less space than was previously used. In any case, on a large screen, the panel doesn't consume much space.

The smaller a screen becomes, the more likely it is that you'll maximize your windows and use one at a time. In that case, the panel doesn't consume any space at all. The window decorator will be merged into it, so even if it is still visible, it doesn't consume any extra space! Neat trick, that one.

In multiple screen scenarios, however, the discussion about whether it should be visible on all screens is valid and interesting. I don't know if any conclusions have been drawn in that regard. It might be that it should be configurable. But that's not an easy discussion either. There are so many possibilities, but we probably wouldn't want to have all those options in code and in config GUIs. Perhaps one good option would be to use the same choice as for the launcher? But some might not like that. My guess is that this will become configurable in some way in the future, but that it won't happen in 12.04. But that's just a guess.

I hope this at least helps explain why it isn't obvious that it should be possible to hide the panel. Or at least not obvious enough that it should take precedence over other tasks. And like everything else, you know, development resources are limited.

  • on ubuntu 12.10, it got implemente! but I got it hidden by pressing alt+super+rightClick and auto-hide option; now I cannot undo it, I am lost.. dconf-editor has nothing about it I think.. Oct 7, 2013 at 18:18
  • I use Ubuntu and OS X. In OS X there is a way to auto-hide it, although the menu bar there serves essentially the same purpose as in Ubuntu. In all the time using it (I do set it to auto hide on my macbook air to get more screen space), I have not run into a single problem, including with notifications.
    – user69659
    Oct 26, 2015 at 17:35

12.04 official release allows auto-hide of the unity panel.

Open System Settings and click on Appearance and select the Behavior tab to adjust the settings.

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  • 5
    He's talking about the top panel, this setting is for the launcher Apr 28, 2012 at 5:02
  • Thanks, Jorge. I like the unity launcher. It's not entirely fair to compare 12.04 to Windows, but even with XP I can autohide every notification zone and customize a mac style dock-like toolbar, built into the OS.
    – newboldrob
    May 17, 2012 at 5:09

I think they have written the code to hide it but they don't just show it to general setting because it is not the best practice for designing. It is easily to understand that.

For example, if you want to see wifi turn on or off, you can see at the top. Another example, applications that don't need to see the top panel such as the terminal. You can choose full-screen mode without seeing the top panel.

It the best concept of UX and UI. However, if you want to make the top panel hidden, you can use Gnome instead of Unity.

  • I hope that OP has got a solution for his question earlier, after all he asked the question Mar 24 '12 at 17:42
    – Soren A
    Mar 15, 2018 at 15:05
  • I am just a newbie of Stackoverflow, and I am trying to help as much as I can. Although, it might not a good answer. I answer based on my own experience. OP might get the solution already. However, this answer is going the public, so it might help someone. Thank for reminding me. Mar 15, 2018 at 16:09

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