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Customizing the Unity Desktop

Customizing the Unity Desktop

There does not appear to be a great deal of customization available for the Unity interface, apart from being able to change the desktop wallpaper (-using the same process as for the Gnome GUI) and adding shortcuts to applications.


Adding a Desktop Launcher pre-Ubuntu 12.04

To add a shortcut to the desktop, simply do the following:

  • Right-click on the desktop background and choose: "Create Launcher":
    Unity Create Launcher

  • Choose the type of entry you require (Application, Application in Terminal window or Location) from the "Type:" drop-down; enter the name you want to see displayed on the desktop in the "Name:" field, then click on the "Browse" button:
    Unity Create Launcher Dialogue Box

  • Navigate to the application/script/folder that you want the shortcut to point to (-hint: most apps sit under /usr/bin), select it, then click the "Open" button:
    Unity Pick Application

  • Type in a description of what the shortcut is for and then click "OK":
    Unity Add Shortcut Description

  • You should then see the shortcut added to your desktop (-you can then click-drag it to the location you desire - including the Unity Launcher bar itself):
    Unity Add Shortcut Description


Adding a Desktop Launcher in Ubuntu 12.04 and above

From Ubuntu 12.04 onwards, Canonical removed the ability to add a shortcut to the desktop via a right-click. You can now only add a new application to the desktop by installing an application called gnome-panel. This can be installed via the Software Centre -or via the command line by typing:

$ sudo apt-get install gnome-panel

Once installed, you can create a new launcher icon by doing the following:

  • Start the application from the Command Line by typing:

    >$ gnome-desktop-item-edit ~/Desktop/ --create-new>

    You will then see the new launcher dialogue display

  • Choose the type of entry you require (Application, Application in Terminal window or Location) from the "Type:" drop-down; enter the name you want to see displayed on the desktop in the "Name:" field, then click on the "Browse" button:
    Unity Create Launcher Dialogue Box

  • Navigate to the application/script/folder that you want the shortcut to point to (-hint: most apps sit under /usr/bin), select it, then click the "Open" button:
    Unity Pick Application

  • Type in a description of what the shortcut is for and then click "OK":
    Unity Add Shortcut Description

  • You should then see the shortcut added to your desktop:
    Unity Add Shortcut Description

  • You can then click-drag it to the location you want - including the Unity Launcher bar itself:
    Unity Shortcut in the Launcher


Customizing the Unity Launcher

The main customization available in the Launcher is the ability to lock your favourite applications into the Unity launcher on the left hand side of the screen. To do this, simply launch your application then, once it's icon displays in the taskbar, simply right-click it and check the "Keep in Launcher" option:

Keep in Launcher

Enabling this option means that even when you close your application, it's icon will remain in the launcher, making it easier for you to find the next time you need it.

You can also customize the order that applications are listed in the Launcher. If you want to change the order, simply do the following:

  • Click on the icon that you wish to reorder
  • Keeping the mouse button down, pull the application out of the Launcher bar, to the right
  • Move the icon upwards or downwards (-still keeping the mouse button down) to the desired position
  • Finally, move the icon back into the launcher (left) in the desired position, then release the mouse button
  • The icon should snap into it's new position:

Unity Desktop



Comment from James :

You say, "Right-click on the desktop background and choose: "Create Launcher" When I do that, I don't see any choice on the menu called "Create Launder". Am I doing something wrong ???


Linuceum: You are correct! Ubuntu seem to have removed the "Create Launcher" option in 12.04. There's a good article on a workaround at http://www.geekyboy.com/archives/384 under the heading Method 2.


 

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