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The Unity GUI

 Video Tour of the Ubuntu Unity Desktop

Introduction to Unity

From Ubuntu 11.04 onwards, Canonical rolled out the Unity desktop which sits on top of Gnome.Unity provides a kind of iPhone-like interface, that Appleogists may find appealing. The main difference is that instead of listing applications in menus across the top line of the screen, in Unity they are listed in a scrollable list of icons down the left hand side of the screen:

The main difference is that, instead of listing applications in menus across the top line of the screen, in Unity they are listed in a scrollable list of icons down the left hand side of the screen..

Unity Desktop


The Top Panel

The Unity top panel is a simplified version to the Gnome equivalent and can be divided into three main areas.

  1. The Ubuntu menu (Ubuntu Menu) in the top left, which allows you to find applications and launch them if they are not already in the Unity Launcher.

    Note: from Ubuntu 12.04 onwards, Canonical moved the Ubuntu Menu to become the first icon in the Unity Launcher itself:
    Ubuntu Menu in Launcher

  2. The Application menu area (top middle): this is where the currently active window's menu bar will normally dock. If no application is open -or everything is minimised- the following menu options will be displayed:

    Ubuntu Places Menu

    • File menu: allows you to open, edit and create files

    • Edit menu: insert, delete, cut and paste, etc functions

    • View menu: options to control what is displayed on the desktop

    • Places menu will be displayed. This is the equivalent of the Windows Explorer : allowing you to locate files and manipulate file on your discs):

    • Help menu: this allow you to locate help on using Unity

  3. The Status bar (top right):

    Unity Control Panel

    This comprises:

    1. Up/Down Arrow Icon : Network connection status (-allows you to check your network connection, enable or disable connections, etc)

    2. Speaker Icon: Sound / Volume settings (-change or mute volume level, change sound preferences, launch Banshee, etc)

    3. Envelope Icon: eMail / Chat and Broadcast (-configure and launch various communication technologies, including email, chat and Ubuntu One accounts)

    4. Time and Date Display : Time and date display, plus access to the calendar, task list, etc)

    5. Time and Date Display: Chat and Broadcast setup (-configure chat, broadcast accounts):

    6. Power On Icon: System Menu (-logout, switch user, access system functions and shutdown/reboot PC, etc)


The Unity Launcher

Down the left hand edge of the screen, you will see a number of scrollable icons which act as shortcuts to applications, scripts and directories. This is known as the Unity Launcher.


The Desktop

The Desktop in Unity is basically everything else. By default, it is the standard Ubuntu purple wallpaper, but this can be customised as desired, by right-clicking the desktop and choosing the Change Desktop Background option.


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