I installed or uninstalled some packages. I do not even remember what I was doing. As a result, now I can't see most of the system settings in settings window. Any idea how to solve this problem.

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When I hover mouse over the window title, it shows 'Unknown Application name' I must have removed something, not sure what :-)

  • 9
    I encountered the same problem after addressing problems with sound (following a suggestion to remove and reinstall alasbase and pulseaudio - this fixed my sound problem). Reinstalling ubuntu-desktop worked for me (and sound still working)
    – AnGus
    Jun 5, 2014 at 0:44
  • Reinstalling ubuntu-desktop solved my sound problem which couldnt be helped by reinstalling alsa and pulseaudio. Thanks a lot
    – user294605
    Jun 18, 2014 at 9:17
  • 2
    Unity seems to have a (unjustified?) dependency on evolution; running sudo apt-get purge evolution* triggers this. To get the System Settings back without much evolution cruft, I ran sudo apt-get install unity-control-center --no-install-recommends afterwards, some evolution-related components get installed and System Settings with all of its icons is back. Oct 11, 2015 at 15:01
  • @NickolaiLeschov that's exactly the problem: I usually want to slim down my Ubuntu dev machine and remove useless packages which include evolution (that is linked with emails in my mind) ... and end up without core Ubuntu features.
    – Matthieu
    Oct 20, 2020 at 7:58

4 Answers 4


You may have accidentally removed some packages (or some dependencies which caused the package to uninstall). In any case, you may try installing (or re installing) the package ubuntu-desktop. Correct any accidental package uninstallation by:

sudo apt-get install ubuntu-desktop
  • 4
    same problem here Indigo and I was just playing with sound... thx cshubhamrao Apr 29, 2014 at 14:16
  • 18
    Also came a cross this problem wile experiencing sound problems and trying to fix them. Think it happened when I reinstalled alsa-base and pulsesound.
    – Thomas K
    Jul 10, 2014 at 7:20
  • 46
    sudo apt-get install unity-control-center is probably all you need, not the entire ubuntu-desktop Aug 17, 2014 at 0:36
  • 2
    @DavidUnderhill yes, but the OP may also have accidentally removed some more packages, installing the ubuntu-desktop is sure shot way to fix any more missing packages Aug 17, 2014 at 15:42
  • 22
    I met this problem after I issues this command: apt-get remove --purge alsa-base pulseaudio
    – PhatHV
    May 27, 2015 at 4:03

Uninstall and then reinstall System Settings (unity-control-center) from the Ubuntu Software Center application.

Or run this command in terminal

  1. sudo apt-get remove unity-control-center
  2. sudo apt-get install unity-control-center
  • 13
    +1 This completely fixes the issue for me without reinstalling all the other stuff that comes with ubuntu-desktop, and is the best answer here.
    – Jason C
    Jul 7, 2014 at 19:45
  • 1
    Did the trick for me, though line #1 said unity-control-center wasn't installed, but second line did it. I've been messing with my 14.04 Ubuntu recently, installed Cinnamon, removed some stuff, and disabled some services, etc, so no clue what cased settings appear like that, but i am pretty sure installing cinnamon played into it some how. Good answer, though -minimalistic and practical Nov 13, 2014 at 6:15
  • Awesome, worked for me without reboot. I think I also lost settings when trying to deal with sound issues.
    – Rmurphy
    Nov 15, 2019 at 17:00
  • This solved the issue for me. Jan 22, 2021 at 14:16
  • what's the difference between unity-control-center and gnome-control-center?
    – Felix Xu
    May 27, 2021 at 3:04

If reinstalling ubuntu-desktop still doesn't cut it for you, you may be accessing system settings in a wrong way. Try to open them directly from a terminal (rather than a bogus shortcut like I was):

  • Thank you for those using the gnome-desktop like me. Just couldn't remember the name for what needed to be removed and reinstalled.
    – Terrance
    May 26, 2015 at 16:26

Yep removing a few programs as suggested BY Ubuntu left settings LOST.

and I had noticed in rem, moving the package, that it also removed gnome-control-center.

Re-installing it solved the problem! find it in software or alternatively type this in a terminal ...

sudo apt install gnome-control-center

Always Trying to help, Mark

  • neither one of these solutions solved the settings issue. Only devices tab is shown in settings. Apr 21, 2020 at 18:22
  • 4
    This was the best answer for me in Ubuntu 20.04. ubuntu-desktop wanted to download and install the internet. This just fixed my problem. It matches this: rubelmiah.com/how-to-fix-missing-settings-in-ubuntu Oct 25, 2020 at 0:44

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