How To Add A Minimise Button In Elementary OS Luna

Yesterday I announced that I have been testing Elementary OS Luna. So far I’m really loving it but as with most things, nothing is perfect and the lack of a minimise button on windows was really starting to irritate me. So, I went to my trusty friend Google to see if they had any advice on how to resolve this issue.

Unfortunately, with Elementary OS Luna being a development release there isn’t much info out there on it yet. So, I went to work trying to figure it out for myself and with about 20 minutes of free time and some common sense, I managed to work it out. The result isn’t perfect but I now have a minimise button and I can also manage what side of the window my buttons are displayed (coming from a Windows background I prefer them on the right).

Here is what a typical default window look like in Elementary OS Luna. Note that the maximise button is on the far right and the close button on the left. By default to minimise a window you have to click on an applications corresponding icon in plank (the panel at the bottom of the screen).

So after five minutes of tweaking here is what I have now:

As you can see, my window management icons are now both on the right hand side but there is no minimise icon displayed. But it is there I assure you. The reason it’s not displayed (I think) is because the guys at Elementary HQ didn’t want a minimise button and therefore didn’t write one into the theme. However, if you click on the part of the window where the minimise button should be, the window will now minimise.

What you need to change

All you need to do is open up “dconf editor” from the application menu and navigate down the tree on the left hand side of the window to the following path org > pantheon > desktop > gala > appearance.  Once there, all you need to do is change the “Button-Layout” field from it’s default value of “close:maximize” to “:minimize,maximize,close” (all without quotes). 

This will move all three buttons over to the right of the window. If you want them on the left then simply change the text to “close,maximize,minimize” (no colon required) instead. How it works is if you imagine the colon to be the centre of the window; anything to the left of it will appear on the left hand side and anything to the right of the colon will appear to the right. All you need to do then is simple arrange the words close, maximise & minimize, separated by commas with no spaces into the order that you wish them to be displayed on the window.

Finally, just to prove to you guys that the minimise button is in fact working (although no icon unfortunately) here is a quick video:

[youtube id="xecFk21XO-A" width="600" height="350"]
How To Add A Minimise Button In Elementary OS Luna
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  • Agmenor

    I realized something, after reading a few blog posts about user interface, etc. Basically, what is the difference between minimizing, closing and quitting an app ? Shouldn’t an app always open in its latest state when you launch it ? Like, for instance, in iOS ?

    • Kev Quirk

      No, minimising the app is exactly that. ‘Hiding’ it to your dock, panel or taskbar. It is no closing it. If you close LibreOffice for example, it will not re-open the last application. Same with many other applications. Minimisation keeps the applications open and in the same state. It’s just hidden. Closing an application closes it completely down.

      Desktop computers work in a completely different way to operating systems like iOS or Android. When you hit your home button in either, you’re not closing the app, but actually just minimising it.

  • brainofdane

    I’m so glad you’re testing and sharing your opinions. The minimize issue is discussed in a journal article from Daniel himself:

    Basically, elementary is changing the way we think of closing applications, at least with the default apps. The Human Interface Guidelines (HIG) says that an application should remember the last state it was in before closing, and open back up in that state. Noise and Midori already do that very well.

    Of course, they realize that not all apps will behave that way, so they are using Luna (and possibly Luna+X) as a transition period. In the mean time, they have left the option to minimize by clicking on the icon in the dock, and they are working on the best way to indicate that an app is still open in the dock.

    Thanks for the informative article. I hope some people find this useful until the dream of near-instant close/open is fully realized–and I think elementary is almost there.

  • nathan1465

    One of the biggest annoyances with Luna I have.

  • Leonardo Jaime

    Gracias!! amigo me ha sido de mucha ayuda!!, and now how i see my desktop icons? :)

  • JaviPas

    Thanks for posting this, useful trick!

  • Rho

    Hi Kev, nice tip.
    An small addition, you can also change the window border theme, by replacing “elementary” for other theme with similar style, like graybird for instance. Then you’ll have that precious icon back.

    I have another problem… you’ll probably might be able to help me. I’m trying to set the keyboard shortcut super+d (win+d) (or any shortcut) to MINIMIZE ALL the windows and see the desktop. Any ideas of how to get it?

  • Zarko Korac

    I have applied this edit to 32bit unstable build dating 12/31/2012 and I actually can see the minimize button.

    unstable downloads are here:

    • Kev Quirk

      Yeah the elementary team have updated the theme slightly. They also have subtle shadows behind the bottoms now as well. It’s all coming together nicely but I don’t think I will be installing it on my main machine until at least the RC.

  • raoul223
  • françois kevin Bile Ebelle

    Thanks for this!!

  • @_martinCx

    Guys, you can always right-click the title bar and get the usual context menu, minimaze being the first option listed. :) It even has a shortcut!

    Hope this helps!

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