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How to Enable Icons on the Ubuntu System Menu (Minor Annoyances)

If you’ve spent more than five minutes using Ubuntu, you might have noticed that the System menu doesn’t have any icons, but the other ones do. Why? Who knows! Either way, here’s how to enable those missing icons.

In case you didn’t notice, have no idea what we’re talking about, or just want visual confirmation, here’s the system menu by default:

image

Notice that the Applications menu has icons, as does the Places menu.

image

Enable Icons on the Ubuntu System Menu

Enabling the icons is a very simple matter—either open up a terminal window, or hit Alt+F2 to bring up the Run Application dialog, and then paste in the following command:

gconftool-2 --type Boolean --set /desktop/gnome/interface/menus_have_icons True

image

At this point you’ll immediately notice that the icons have arrived. Yay!

image

If you want to disable the icons again, do the same thing, but put False at the end.

gconftool-2 --type Boolean --set /desktop/gnome/interface/menus_have_icons False

That’s all there is to it. Note that this tip was sent in by reader Dave. Thanks!

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 07/5/10

Comments (9)

  1. Mrrix32

    Mine already has the icons. I don’t remember having to add them :/

  2. Steve

    Mine didn’t, but it does now.

    Thanks.

  3. Bjarnovikus

    Thanks :D

    When I’m back at my ubuntu I will do this fix :)

  4. PendragonUK

    Sweet little fix, thanks…

  5. miko

    this can also be done using the command:- gconf-editor from the terminal and going to /desktop/gnome/interface/menus_have_icons and ticking the box, great tip thanks, I never actually noticed before i read this article that the icons were missing :)

  6. hasi

    sweet, I was wondering abt that too. hehe

  7. Spydeyrch

    Also, you can use ubuntu tweak and set not only the icons but the window functions (close, minimize, maximize) location, sources, programs, colors, splash screens, etc. Great little tool and simple to use.

  8. Emmental

    I wasn’t even aware the System menu *had* icons.

    The reason I ended up here after much Googling is because having that setting set to False apparently also prevents icons appearing on menu items in wxPython.

    This change did the trick (and gave me bonus System menu icons) so thanks for the tip.

  9. David Tavárez

    Also it works on Fedora13

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