How to move Unity launcher to the bottom of screen on Ubuntu

By design Unity launcher is placed at the left side of Ubuntu desktop and has remained immovable ever since it was introduced to the public in 2010. Ubuntu users who wanted to have Mac OS X-style launcher have had to either replace Unity launcher with an alternative dock such as CairoDock or Docky, or even switch to a more customizable desktop environment such GNOME.

Fast forward to Ubuntu 16.04, and the community request for a "movable" launcher is finally answered. Starting from Ubuntu 16.04, you can move the vertical Ubuntu launcher bar to the bottom of the desktop. In this post, let me show how you can change the position of the Unity launcher on Ubuntu 16.04 or later.

Move the Unity Launcher for the Current User

Method One: Command Line Approach

You can change the position of the Unity launcher from the command line using gsettings.

To obtain the current position of the launcher, run the following command:

$ gsettings get com.canonical.Unity.Launcher launcher-position

The command will print the launcher's current position which is set to 'Left' by default. Use the following command to move the launcher to the bottom.

$ gsettings set com.canonical.Unity.Launcher launcher-position Bottom

The change will be effective immediately, and remain permanent across reboots.

To change the launcher's position back to the left-side, run:

$ gsettings set com.canonical.Unity.Launcher launcher-position Left

Method Two: GUI-based Approach

A graphical counterpart for gsettings is GUI-based dconf-editor. Here is how to move the Unity launcher with this tool.

First, install dconf-editor:

$ sudo apt-get install dconf-editor

Launch dconf-editor, and click on "com"->"canonical"->"unity"->"launcher" in the left sidebar. Then in the right panel, change the value of "launcher-position" to "Bottom".

Similar to gsettings, dconf-editor will make a permanent change to the position of the Unity launcher.

Move the Unity Launcher for All New Users

So far the above methods change the position of the Unity launcher for the current user's desktop only. The system-wide default location of the Unity launcher still remains set to "Left". This means if you create a new user, the Unity launcher of the new user will still appear in the left side bar.

If you want to change the "default" position of the Unity launcher to the bottom of the screen, so that the change applies to every new desktop user, you can modify GSettngs schemas as follows.

$ cd /usr/share/glib-2.0/schemas

In that directory, create a .gschema.override file for the Unity launcher with the following content:

$ sudo vi 50_unity-launcher.gschema.override
[com.canonical.Unity.Launcher]
launcher-position='Bottom'

Finally, compile the modified GSettngs schemas:

$ sudo glib-compile-schemas /usr/share/glib-2.0/schemas/

At this point, the default position of the Unity launcher should be changed to the bottom. Any subsequently created new user will have his/her Unity launcher show up at the bottom of the screen.

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Dan Nanni is the founder and also a regular contributor of Xmodulo.com. He is a Linux/FOSS enthusiast who loves to get his hands dirty with his Linux box. He likes to procrastinate when he is supposed to be busy and productive. When he is otherwise free, he likes to watch movies and shop for the coolest gadgets.

6 thoughts on “How to move Unity launcher to the bottom of screen on Ubuntu

  1. For me below error is shown. Even thorough GUI, there is no such key available over there. Using Ubuntu 14.04.4 LTS
    No such key 'launcher-position'

  2. Why users had to wait for this simple feature to come to Unity for a more than a decade? Back in 2010 Mark Shuttleworth said "I'm afraid that won't work with our broader design goals, so we won't implement that."
    Source: https://bugs.launchpad.net/unity/+bug/668415
    Now, should users wait for another decade before they will be able to move Unity launcher to Right?
    Unity? Thanks but no thanks. I prefer to stick to Mate, KDE Plasma, XFCE, Gnome or any other desktop that allows me to do that. Why Shuttleworth cannot understand that users moving launchers in their desktops is sort of "right brain/left brain" thing?

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