Coming from a Mac environment, there’s a lot I like about Ubuntu Linux but one thing still confuses me: Why do app menus show up on the very top of the screen, rather than on the app windows themselves? Can I change this behavior??
Always glad to hear from Ubuntu and other Linux users as I’m a big fan of Linux myself – and have written for Linux Journal for many years, as it happens. While over time Linux has been inspired by both Mac and Windows for user interface elements, there are still some parts that show their roots from the long-ago X Window System, also known as X11 or even X11R6 to indicate the very latest version of this venerable graphical user environment that was first created back in 1984 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (remember, the first Mac system also came out in 1984, and the first functional version of Microsoft Windows came out in 1985).
Things have evolved a lot since those days, however, and we’re now used to animations, drop shadows, crisp graphics and text, and lots of gee-whiz features to keep things lively and interesting. The amount of flexibility surrounding your user experience has dramatically increased too and there’s not much you can’t tweak at this point, from sizes to colors to styles to shapes.
And, yes, menu locations. Here’s the scoop (using Ubuntu 16.04 as a reference OS). To start, here’s an example of what you’re talking about, where the menu options for the program that’s front and center aren’t on the app window at all, but on the very top of the screen:
We’re in the Files browser, but the File, Edit, View, Go, Bookmarks and Help menu items are on the very top of the screen (very much the way that MacOS X works, of course). You can move these to the title bar of the program or app window itself, however.
To start, find and click on the Settings gear icon on the launchbar:
Now you’ll be looking at quite a few Settings and Preferences that let you fine tune your Linux experience:
For this particular tweak to the settings, you’ll want to choose “Appearance“, the icon on the top left. Click on it, then make sure you choose “Behavior” from the tabs along the top.
Here’s what you’ll see:
Look more closely at the bottom left. The prompt is “Show the menus for a window” and the choices are “In the menu bar” (the default, and what you have set currently) and “In the window’s title bar”. Change to the latter option and when you go back to the Files program window, you’ll see the menu options have migrated to where you want:
And that’s how ya do it. While you’re there, check out some of the other Appearance settings too, including color scheme and desktop image. Lots of things you can tweak, for sure.
Keep rockin’ that Linux too!