As of Ubuntu 10.04, the minimize, maximize, and close buttons on all windows were moved to the left side and the system menu was removed. Prior to version 11.10, you could use several methods to restore the original button arrangement.

To move the windows buttons in 10.04, 10.10, and 11.04, you could use Ubuntu Tweak or the Gnome-Art Manager or manually move the buttons using the Configuration Editor (gconf-editor). However, in Ubuntu 11.10 with the Gnome 3 desktop environment, these methods for moving the buttons are obsolete. The only way to move the buttons now is to use a program called Mwbuttons (Metacity Window Buttons) that allows you to specify the availability and position of the window buttons.

To install Mwbuttons, download the Debian/Ubuntu DEB ALL file, not the tar.gz file.

Go to the desktop or open the file manager (from the Places menu) and navigate to the folder where you saved the .deb file. Double-click on the file.

The Ubuntu Software Center opens and the mwbuttons screen displays. Click Install.

To install software, you must authenticate. Enter your password in the Password edit box on the Authenticate dialog box and click Authenticate.

The progress of the installation displays where the Install button was.

When the installation is done, “Installed” displays next to a check mark. To close the Ubuntu Software Center, click the X button on the window’s title bar.

To start mwbuttons, click the Dash home icon on the Unity desktop.

Enter “mwbuttons” (without the quotes) in the search box. You don’t need to press Enter. Results are displayed as you type. Click the Metacity Window Buttons icon that displays.

The Metacity Window Buttons window displays. There are eight drop-down lists from which you can choose which buttons will be available and the order of the buttons on all windows in Ubuntu.

For example, to put the close button back in its usual place, select the X button from the drop-down list on the far right side of the Metacity Window Buttons window.

NOTE: The buttons available in each drop-down list are as follows, in this order: system menu, maximize, minimize, close. The maximize button is a toggle button. Clicking it once maximizes the window, if it isn’t already, and clicking it again returns it to its previous state.

We selected the buttons as shown on the following image to put the window buttons back in their usual places.

Any window you open now will display the window buttons where you placed them.

You can also quickly set the buttons to the way they were in Karmic Koala (9.10). To do this, move your mouse to the top panel on the desktop to access the menu bar for Metacity Window Buttons and select Karmic style from the Settings menu. You can also use this menu to go back to the style from Lucid Lynx (10.04) or you can even select the Mac OS X style. To go back to the previously set button arrangement, select Restore style.

When you maximize a window on the Unity desktop in Ubuntu 11.10, the buttons go back to the left side in the following order: close, minimize, maximize. They also move to the top panel along with the menu. If you click the maximize button again, the buttons go back to where you placed them.

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Lori Kaufman is a technology expert with 25 years of experience. She's been a senior technical writer, worked as a programmer, and has even run her own multi-location business.
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