Taming Ubuntu Unity Sidebar

Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal has stirred up boundless controversy. At first I was overwhelmingly underwhelmed but I decided to stick with it and I’m coming around.

My first gripe was the sidebar – I don’t like it at the side, you can’t move it and there didn’t seem to be any way to hide it. It’s too obtrusive for my minimalist tastes but I’ve found that a bit of tinkering will banish it from view. If you feel the same way here’s how to take charge of it:

First install the CompizConfig Settings Manager, either from the Software Center or from a Terminal. I find Terminal easiest for program installation: type or copy this command into a Terminal window:

sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager

Bonus tip. You can open a Terminal window using the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Alt+T

When that’s completed open your newly installed CompizConfig Settings Manager. An easy way to start any application in Unity is to click on the Ubuntu logo at the top left of your screen (or just tap the Super or Windows key) and start typing the name of the application. By the time you’ve typed the first 2 or 3 letters you should see the app’s logo. Click on it:

Open app from Unity

In the Desktop section click on “Ubuntu Unity Plugin“.

Here’s what you’ll see:

CompizConfig Settings windowClick on the “Hide Launcher” dropdown menu and set it to “Autohide” as shown above.

That’s it! Your sidebar will disappear and it’ll pop out again whenaver your mouse cursor touches the left edge of your screen or if you press the Windows/Super key.

But wait, there’s more …

If you click on the “Experimental” tab in CompizConfig Settings Manager you’ll find some more options. for instance, I prefer the Sidebar icons to be smaller than the default and there’s an option there to reduce them to as small as 32 pixels. Be aware that experimental means just that! If you’re not an experienced user steer clear.

Get out of trouble

If Unity does break something, run this command in Terminal:

unity --reset

To reset icons:

unity --reset-icons



4 thoughts on “Taming Ubuntu Unity Sidebar

  1. Nice one, dude!
    But if you wanna hide the sidebar completly, so that it just appears when
    you press super, go to the unity plugin and press the ‘reveal mode’ button.
    Then click on the green marked window on the left side so that it turns red!
    After that, unity will restart and the sidebar won’t appear if you don’t press the super key.
    Greets, Phil

Comments are closed.