In Unity, if you open the applications dash or even if you just press the meta key to open the search dash, they always pop out with a default size of something looking 800x600ish. In the lower right hand of the dash is an icon which maximizes the overlay to the whole screen.

Is there a way to get these dash overlays to pop out maximized by default?

2 Answers 2


The dash is designed to open "half-way" for screens that are larger than a standard netbook. This is called "Desktop" mode.

You can force it to use "netbook" mode through the following:

gsettings set com.canonical.Unity form-factor 'Netbook'

If you want to reverse this try

gsettings set com.canonical.Unity form-factor 'Automatic'


gsettings set com.canonical.Unity form-factor 'Desktop'

Alternatively, you can install the configuration editor dconf-editor from the package dconf-tools and do the same the graphical way:

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for 12.04

For 12.04 and later you can use MyUnity: Install MyUnity

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There is also a rather neat overlooked method...

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Click the dash maximise button as shown, followed by the dash button itself. This changes from desktop to netbook and most importantly the setting is retained when you logout and login.

For other options:

  • Works a treat, thanks a lot. Why the unity team thinks that I don't want to see as much information as possible if my screen is larger than a stamp is beyond me, but at least now I know how to change it. Also your answer piqued my curiosity and with some digging around (like here: askubuntu.com/questions/34490/…) I now found out about the gconf/dconf debate which I was so far totally unaware of. Thanks!
    – nem75
    Apr 22, 2011 at 8:08

If you are using Unity 2D (11.10) you can get the maximized dash adding a single line on dash.qml in the 'Connections' block:

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