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:

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

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

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

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!

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Lowell is the founder and CEO of How-To Geek. He’s been running the show since creating the site back in 2006. Over the last decade, Lowell has personally written more than 1000 articles which have been viewed by over 250 million people. Prior to starting How-To Geek, Lowell spent 15 years working in IT doing consulting, cybersecurity, database management, and programming work.
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