I've installed Ubuntu 16.04 on my laptop and I'm using gnome-shell 3.18.4. When I'm trying to move the window buttons to the right by using dconf-edit How to switch window controls to the left (Gnome Shell)? I'm unable to move the window buttons to the right.
What can I do to move the buttons to the right?

  • 3
    One way is to use Gnome 3 or other windows manager that puts buttons on the right, but I think you are not asking for that kind of answer.
    – nobody
    May 3, 2016 at 11:37
  • 1
    Reformulate your question as "How to do this or that" instead
    – userDepth
    May 4, 2016 at 1:10
  • Not possible with unity desktop. Get used to it! May 5, 2016 at 17:30
  • 1
    Ubuntu MATE 16.04 has the windows buttons on the right, additionally there's a Munity - a Unity look alike
    – pfeiffep
    May 6, 2016 at 16:25
  • 2
    Canonical refused to implement any option for this in 16.04, see this bug: "The window controls in Unity are on the left. It is not a setting, it's where the designers chose to place them. This will not change.". I personally find this incredibly obtuse, but, you get what you pay for. Sep 20, 2016 at 23:06

3 Answers 3


If I understand you correctly and you are on (Vanilla) Ubuntu 16.04 with GNOME Shell installed (version 3.18.4) the following command should move the buttons to the right:

gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.wm.preferences button-layout ':minimize,maximize,close'

To set them back, the command is:

gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.wm.preferences button-layout 'close,maximize,minimize:'
  • 1
    This worked for me on Ubuntu 16.04 with Gnome-Shell. Big Thanks
    – dufte
    May 19, 2016 at 7:45
  • 1
    This works, and i have used a modified version to show the contextual menu en the left side: gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.wm.preferences button-layout 'menu:minimize,maximize,close'
    – Ftaveras
    Jul 30, 2016 at 16:37
  • 1
    @DanDascalescu: This question and answer are talking about Ubuntu 16.04 with GNOME Shell, not with Unity.
    – matthias
    Sep 24, 2016 at 16:27
  • 8
    Nice! In Unity, this will never work: "The window controls in Unity are on the left. It is not a setting, it's where the designers chose to place them. This will not change.". I personally find this incredibly obtuse. Sep 24, 2016 at 22:43
  • Well it looks like I'm switching to GNOME instead of Unity then. May 22, 2017 at 17:27

At the moment there is not much that can be done to shift the window buttons to the right in a standard installation of Ubuntu Xenial Xerus. Since Trusty Tahr the handling of window decorations is no longer accessible from org.gnome.desktop.wm.preferences and is now handled by Unity itself. Alterations with tools such as the Tweak Tool or Dconf Editor in this area are no longer respected and will exasperatingly and silently be ignored.

So until someone can produce a suitable patch for the Unity source code, and I would personally welcome such a patch, we are stuck with buttons to the left.


  • 1
    This is an explanation not an answer. Put it in a comment instead.
    – userDepth
    May 4, 2016 at 1:10
  • 12
    This is an unusual case in that there is no answer at the moment, thus the explanation is the only answer....
    – andrew.46
    May 4, 2016 at 1:14
  • 1
    Are you trying to imply that this is not a question ? It is, and deserves an answer despite it being clear or not.
    – userDepth
    May 4, 2016 at 1:19
  • 3
    No that is not my implication at all and I find the question perfectly clear. I would dearly like to see an answer that provides movement of the buttons. Feel free to provide a better answer btw :)
    – andrew.46
    May 4, 2016 at 1:21
  • 1
    I know the situation, but my reasons are that a question deserves an answer instead of an explanation. If you have an explanation the put it in a comment is my suggestion. Fluffy Llamas
    – userDepth
    May 4, 2016 at 2:01

Hmmm... Interesting. I was thinking... I'm on 16.04. I'm also on gnome-shell 3.18. But my window buttons are on the right.

Lightbulb, when reading the comments: Oh, I'm on Ubuntu GNOME, rather than Ubuntu vanilla.

If you wanted to use Ubuntu as distro and Gnome Shell as the DE (as I also prefer), you'll have a better Gnome experience by installing the Ubuntu GNOME flavor instead. So why not give it a try? The base distribution will just be the same anyways.

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