The Unity Launcher in Ubuntu is locked to the left side of the screen. If you would rather have a launcher at the bottom of the screen, there is a way to convert the Unity Launcher into a dock-style launcher at the bottom of the screen.

We have previously shown you how to install and use Cairo-Dock to get a Mac OS X-style dock at the bottom of your Ubuntu desktop. However, the Unity Launcher was still on the left side of the screen. We will show you a way to automatically hide the Unity Launcher and show Cairo-Dock at the bottom of the screen.

NOTE: When we say to type something in this article and there are quotes around the text, DO NOT type the quotes, unless we specify otherwise.

First, we will be installing the Unity Tweak Tool and Cairo-Dock. To install the Unity Tweak Tool, click the Ubuntu Software Center icon on the Unity Launcher.


Start typing “unity tweak” in the search box in the upper-right corner of the Ubuntu Software Center window. Results start to display in the list as you type. When the “Unity Tweak Tool” displays in the list, click on it and then click the “Install” button.


When the “Authenticate” dialog box displays, enter your password in the “Password” edit box and click “Authenticate.”


The progress of the installation is displayed on the right side of the “Unity Tweak Tool” item in the list.


Now, search for Cairo-Dock and install it using the same procedure we described for installing the Unity Tweak Tool.


When the installation of Cairo-Dock is finished, click the X button in the upper-left corner of the Ubuntu Software Center window to close it.


To open the Unity Tweak Tool, click the icon on the Unity Launcher.


NOTE: If you don’t have an icon on the Unity Launcher for the Unity Tweak Tool, open the Dash and type “unity”. The Unity Tweak Tool icon should display under “Applications” in the results. Click the icon to start the tool.


In the “Unity” section of the Unity Tweak Tool, click “Launcher.”


On the “Launcher” tab, click the “Auto-hide” switch so it reads “ON.” The Unity Launcher immediately hides. You can change the “Auto-hide animation,” “Reveal location,” and “Reveal sensitivity” as well.


To start Cairo-Dock, move your mouse to the left side of the screen (or top left corner, depending on your settings) to show the Unity Launcher. Then, click the Cairo-Dock icon on the launcher.


The Cairo-Dock displays at the bottom of the screen. For more information about customizing and using Cairo-Dock, see our article.


If you want Cairo-Dock to display automatically when you log in, right-click anywhere on the dock and move your mouse over “Cairo-Dock.” Then, select “Launch Cairo-Dock on startup” from the sub-menu that displays.

NOTE: Once you select the “Launch Cairo-Dock on startup” option, it is removed from the menu. If you change your mind and don’t want Cairo-Dock to start automatically when you log in, you can disable it in the Startup Applications tool.


This method of switching to a dock-style launcher gives you the best of both worlds. You can have a dock at the bottom of the screen and still access the Unity Launcher by hovering your mouse over the left side of the screen.

Lori Kaufman Lori Kaufman
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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