Ubuntu 16.04 LTS includes a long-awaited feature: You can now move the Unity desktop’s launcher to the bottom of your screen. It isn’t locked to the left side of your screen anymore. However, this option requires a terminal command or tweaking tool, as it isn’t offered in Ubuntu’s normal System Settings window.

Despite this new option, the Unity 7 desktop environment is still a bit restrictive. You can only have your launcher bar on the left side of the screen or on the bottom–not at the right side or top of your screen. But at least it’s a step in the right direction.

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Option One: Run a Terminal Command

This just takes a single terminal command. Don’t worry–even if you’re never used the terminal before, you can do this in a few seconds with a quick copy and paste.

First, open a terminal window. To do this, click the Ubuntu icon at the top-left corner of your screen to open the Dash, search for “Terminal”, and press Enter.

Copy and paste–or type–the following command into the terminal window and press Enter. The launcher will immediately appear at the bottom of your screen, so you don’t have to reboot or log in and log out again.

gsettings set com.canonical.Unity.Launcher launcher-position Bottom

Ubuntu will remember this setting, so you’ll never have to run this command again. The launcher will always appear on the bottom of your screen when you sign in.

To move the launcher back to the left side of the screen again, run the following command instead:

gsettings set com.canonical.Unity.Launcher launcher-position Left

Option Two: Use Unity Tweak Tool

Unity Tweak Tool is a third-party application that allows you to quickly control this and many other hidden Unity desktop settings. Unity has quite a few options you can configure, from icon animations to workspace behavior, and only a few of them are normally exposed in Ubuntu’s user interface.

To install this tool, open the Software application included with Ubuntu, search for “Unity Tweak Tool,” and install it.

Launch Unity Tweak Tool application and click the “Launcher” icon under Unity.

Click “Bottom” to the right of Position under the Appearance heading. You can also set the option back to “Left” from here. The launcher will immediately switch to whatever side of the screen you choose.

Option Three: Change the Setting with Dconf Editor

If you prefer, you could use the Dconf Editor application to change this setting instead of using the gsettings terminal command above. There’s no real advantage to doing it this way–it’s faster to just run the terminal command. But it’s an option.

To install this tool, open the Software app, search for the “Dconf Editor” application, and install it.

Launch the Dconf Editor application and navigate to com > canonical > unity > launcher.

Click the “launcher-position” value in the right pane and set it to “Bottom.” You can also set it back to “Left” from here.

It would be nice if Ubuntu provided an easy way to control this option from the default System Settings tool–likely under the Appearance pane–but this option hasn’t been added to Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial Xerus at launch. It’s unlikely it will ever be added. But Ubuntu users finally have an officially supported way to move the launcher to the bottom of the screen, so it’s hard to complain too much.

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Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times and Reader's Digest, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than one billion times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
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