Minimize and Maximize in GNOME3

A couple of things here:

  • Minimize and Maximize are still available and functional in the right-click menu and as shortcuts. Like always.
  • When using GNOME Shell there’s only a Close button on the window, GNOME3’s default.

In one sentence: GNOME3 changed the default layout of window controls. Default being the important word:

  • Can I revert this?
    , if you really want to. You only need to change a key in the configuration system. Just as you have always been able to change GNOME2’s window-controls configuration.

Please give GNOME Shell a try, don’t be afraid of changes. If it’s a bad decision, we’ll notice in time and fix it. It’s not the end of the world. Not yet ๐Ÿ™‚

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51 Responses to Minimize and Maximize in GNOME3

  1. anonimo says:

    Same logic applies to the close button. Why is it still there?

  2. Mark Smith says:

    First impression of GNOME 3? It sucks. I’m open to change and some of it looks interesting, but on the whole, it’s an obfuscated pile of dung. It’s completely unintuitive – what does one do with it? Oh, found apps, now what? I want to change my font sizes – can’t do that anymore. There’s no clear way of doing most trivial tasks. Adding something to favorites on the left? Forget it. Adding a shortcut to the apps? Ya, right. Revealing the old desktop, which was a good workspace for current projects? No way. Get pissed off and want to go back to the old way? Search Google, cuz GNOME isn’t going to help. It’s been made so simple that not even tips, tutorials or help are available. “Gee, this is easy, I’ve been developing it for months, how come you can’t figure it out? Are you stupid?”

    I started with KDE when it was first released – before GNOME even existed. I immediately switched to GNOME when it came out. I never thought I’d say this, but KDE is now looking like the better option.

  3. diegoe says:

    Of course, the argument can apply to anything which has a correspondance in a menu ;).

    However, Close has a different effect than Maximize and Minimize, Close “kills” the window/application for the user, it’s a much more severe action than the others, and undoable.

    Plus, a few applications/situations expect that the user will be able to quit/close without a menu or keyboard shortcut.

  4. diegoe says:

    You can add applications to the “dash” (favorites on the left). Just right click on any running application shown there and select “Add to favorites”. Or look for it in Applications and then right-click and “Add to favorites”.

    GNOME 3 has not been released yet, it’s normal that you can’t find any tutorial or documentation yet. Most of it is unpublished since it’s still in development.

    Many of us are constantly showing GNOME Shell to non-geeks to see how they react to it, in my personal experience (contrary to yours) most people grasp it without guidance. Something that -to be honest- I didn’t really expected. Specially when my friends are computer unfriendly.

    When GNOME3 is out and stable, give it a try. You’ll be able to make your mind then with the full facts ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Daniel says:

    Is there an alternative to vertical & horizontal maximize (2nd & 3rd mouse button)? I use these actions very often to arrange my windows and replacing them with manual resizing would feel like a huge step backwards.

  6. dbrodie says:

    @diegoe: Why not have a “star” in the app list (not dash) that allows yo to mark an app as favorite, like bookmarks?

  7. diegoe says:

    I think what you want are desktop shortcuts for “Maximize window vertically” and “Maximize window horizontally”. Both are available in GNOME2 and GNOME3, but have no default key.

    Just go to System > Preferences > Keyboard shortcuts in GNOME2 or System Settings > Keyboard (Shortcuts tab) in GNOME3.

    Was that what you meant?

  8. Piotr Pyclik says:

    Isn’t leaving options to maximize and minimize windows in right-click menu a bit inconsistent? Main argument about removing minimize button was, that it’s no longer suitable, since there’s no taskbar to minimize windows to.

  9. diegoe says:

    Mmm, a more obvious way to mark applications as favorites could help.

    You can also drag the launchers in Applications to the dash. But maybe it’s not that obvious anyway…

    Don’t know how a more obvious UI would look… Mmm… The most similar thing to this is OSX’s dock, which works similar to this: either you drag it or mark it as “anchored” in the Apps list or when it’s running.

  10. Daniel says:


    Exactly, thanks.

  11. diegoe says:

    I think the “not so middleground” was to not *expose* it with buttons, but not remove the functionality from less frequent places like the context menu.

  12. Piotr Pyclik says:

    You’re probably right. Now, sorry for the offtopic, but it makes me puzzled – when testing GNOME 3, I can find any way to change GTK themes, fonts and icons in new GNOME Control Center, such as in GNOME 2’s System -> Preferences -> Appearance applet…

  13. diegoe says:

    Well, they changed that. It’s supposed to be exposed in a not-so-distant “GNOME Plumbing” panel in the Control Center. Optional for people that want to tweak common stuff.

    Right now you can change it, but you’ll have to use dconf-editor. Specifically desktop > interface. Or the gsettings command-line tool:
    $ gsettings (get or set or list-recursively) org.gnome.desktop.interface

    Of course, this is a workaround until such Plumbing panel exists. Consider that there’s probably no more than 2 themes working with GTK3 right now, so you are probably not missing much options right now.

  14. azzorcist says:

    Why not just put one button that will show context menu like the left button that exist in GNOME 2 and other OS. Just remove all the other buttons.

  15. John Smith says:

    So basically you’re trading travel distance for device presses.

    > If it’s a bad decision, we’ll notice in time and fix it.
    Given all the past rationales GNOME provided to us since GNOME2… I don’t believe it.

  16. Juanjo says:

    I’ve seen the video and I like it (currently my jhbuild env is broken, and I didn’t have the time to deal with it).

    But regarding you comment about changes: I disagree. The way Gnome 3 tries to force the user to focus in just ONE task at time is quite effective, in a bad way, because I really want to do two or three things at the same time (reading documentation from a web and having a console and gvim open in the same screen it’s possible with Gnome 2).

    I work with laptops only, but I guess that if I had a 21″ screen, focusing in just one task at time, seems like a waste of space to me.

    If you take all of this together, and see like the Gnome team haven/t been very responsive to the critics so far (I’m not talking about the troll, but constructive criticism), I don’t think is the end of the world, but may be the end of Gnome for me (may be until Gnome 3.2, if some things change).

  17. me says:

    >If itโ€™s a bad decision, weโ€™ll notice in time and fix it.

    What are we, some kind of lab rats for you?

    It’s obvious for example that button activated maximisation of windows both easier to learn and more efficient compared to gesture like opration of gnome 3. I see clear trend towards making gnome less efficient and more appealing to “iPad populace”. Probably because corporate pressure or because key people want to be “relevant” and “innovative” in things that person with integrity doesn’t want to…

    And all this in times when even apple drives toward death of desktop metaphor and of unmaximized windows.

  18. Martin says:

    Would you kindly tell me *what key* I need to change and what value I need to change it to?

    Reverting this change was the first thing I tried after using Gnome-Shell for 5 minutes. I found no obvious gconf-key for mutter, and the key for metacity was configured to still show minimize and maximize. Please help me out.

  19. Guy says:

    I personally miss some parts of the old desktop. I’m using the shell for two weeks and try to get used to it. Some parts are really awesome. I absolutely love the virtual desktop handling. The new top-panel looks great and is much cleaner as the old one. The new way to start apps is fine too.

    But i’m really missing the application switcher at the bottom. I find myself using vim+screen again instead of gedit and gnome-terminal just because switching applications is not that convenient anymore.

    I think about to use one of those fancy cairo based docks to bring back the features I miss. Just because people figure out how something is done doesn’t mean that it improves the way they are working.

    So things I’m deffinitly going to change for myself after two weeks:
    – I’m going to bring back a panel at the bottom in one or the other way. At first to switch apps during work and also to put one or two starters there.
    – I love messy desktops. I /want/ my files to be there. It’s simply the way I want to organise my temporary files.
    – I also like the minimise/maximise button. I’m using them a lot. I often have more than 5 windows open at a single screen. It simply easier to minimize a window as to move it at the side when you want to put a window at the left and the other one at the right side to work.

    All in all the shell is still a improvement after a few workflow-optimizations.

  20. Comet says:

    looks pretty bad ass to me. I’m going to wait for the official release. I imagine Ubuntu will be all over this upgrade. As usual, there will be some confused or angry people because they’ll have to learn something new, but that’s the fun part of computing in the first place. It reminds me of all the old people complaining about switching to Windows 7 after 8 years of using XP. Get over it, try something new, and eventually you’ll see why the changes were made. Do you think the people who made this software really wanted to piss people off? They wanted to make their workflow easier and faster. Which I’m sure it will do once you learn the basics of the new UI. Cheers Gnome.

  21. Andre says:

    I would like to know is there any way to change the shadows in the windows, i know is done by mutter but any way to remove those ?

  22. anonymous says:

    desktop rocks. damn, i can’t wait for f15

    currently, the only two things i’m seeing not done after my taste are

    – lack of some action service, where action is passed onto it. like copying files, burning, archiving. in my world that software should simply act in one of two ways. if action is blocking, gray out or disappear or non blocking where software should simply run. but most importantly, that action should not quit/crash with software. being able to pause/cancel (if service allows) everything at the same place would fit into shell perfectly as you try to centralize everything. most of this comes from my frustration in often quitting browser while downloading, but i also hate firefox way of separating downloads.

    – with removed desktop and panel, there is no possibility for any sensible d’n’d action like for example, dragging folder onto archiver (unless you open archiver first). if nothing else gnome should specify d’n’d dbus message “hey, i’m dragging… full description” and “d’n’d stopped” so anyone could implement some kind of slide in toolbar containing lauchers registered for that data type. again, fitting for simplicity and not taking space

    the rest is simply… awesome

  23. Jamie says:

    I never noticed how infrequently I actually use the min and max buttons until now. I’ve been running gnome 3 for about a week and I’ve not tried to use them once. I apparently never have a need to minimize a window (which I’d guess is at least partly due to the new awesome workspace management), and I seem to just double click the title bar to maximize.

    I can understand the concerns about laptop lids. Not so much with tab scrolling (although I will miss it). This one just seems quite trivial though.

  24. diegoe says:

    I will guess that it’s because Close is the most used action, so it was decided to expose only that one.

  25. diegoe says:

    @John Smith
    Every decision is always some kind of trade, don’t you think?

    Decisions won’t always please everyone, of course a few of the GNOME2 were not popular, but you can see that -in time- there are now a lot of very vocal users demanding it to stay just like it is.
    And some bad decisions were reverted in 2.x, like spatial-mode of Nautilus.

  26. diegoe says:

    I can’t say how’s GNOME Shell in a bigger monitor, I don’t have one but I see the point you raise.

    The speed at which the developers and UX people are is quite high right now. I’d suppose they have focused on a subset of all the possible configurations.

    Consider that it’s hard to weight opinions and reports when the product has not been yet launched. I’m sure that after people start using it in their stable distributions a LOT of comments will araise and we’ll be able to see if our personal impressions apply to the broad public.

    Btw, have you tried the tiling (draggin to screen edges: left/right)? Maybe it can help you administer your extra space.

  27. diegoe says:

    No, nobody is a lab rat, except Pinky and the Brain.

    Saying that something is “obvious” is quite subjective. The only real way to know if it’s a good change is to DARE to do it and release GNOME Shell.
    How can you innovate if you never dare to be different?

    And no, don’t worry, GNOME Shell is not developed because we are releasing an iGNOME ๐Ÿ™‚

  28. diegoe says:

    You should make your mind after using it more than 5 minutes! The changes are obviously big with respect to a classic interface, you should try it for a couple of days so you can get used to the new “paradigm”.

    If after that you still don’t like it, you can visit /desktop/gnome/shell/windows/button_layout in gconf-editor.

    I insist you should try to get used to the Shell UI before making a judgement.

  29. diegoe says:

    Yeah, application switching needs some improvement when you have many windows of the same application.

    There’s Alt+ and Alt+F6 to switch within an application, I think. You can change it in Keyboard > Shortcuts in the Control Panel. It’s “Cycle application windows” or something like that.

  30. diegoe says:

    Thanks! And indeed, the changes made are not intended to piss people and lose users. The goal is to create something new, creative and much more useful to people.

    Hope you’ll like the release ๐Ÿ™‚

  31. diegoe says:

    Not sure, but I think that’s configurable in the mutter theme although I can’t see that Adwaita (the default theme) is doing it.

    Surely someone will ask for it when theming starts. Right now *3rd party* theming hasn’t been a priority so you’ll see some stuff is missing.

  32. Paolo says:

    just looked at gnome3 using the live iso at

    I like the overall experience, I just have a comment on the window layout: the size/height of the window title bar is definitely too big for my 1024×600 netbook.

    What about merging the menu bar and the title bare in a single line?
    After all, the close button could be pushed at the far right of the menu and the title label, well, it’s just a label… you could have a label area next to the close button, something of limited size that expands when hovering on it.

    In the current implementation, there is too much waisted empty space in the title bar / menu bar area.

  33. diegoe says:

    Persistent/long-going actions were thought, but no final design was made. Maybe it will be done for 3.2. If you use Epiphany, downloads will now be non-intrussive. We are just finishing the last rough edges.

    You can drag stuff to the top-left corner and the overview will begin, where you can hover any window and such window will be brought to front.
    I think you can also drop on the icons in the dash.

    You could also right-click and select “Create an archive…”, maybe you are missing that Nautilus extension? I almost never use Archive Manager directly.

  34. diegoe says:

    Agree, it’s quite tall. I’ll file a bug.

  35. reda_ea says:

    In gnome 2, *I* choose how to layout my desktop, where to put my panels, what applets to put in these panels and the order and placement of each one.
    So far it seems to me most if not all of the changes in gnome shell can be easily made in gnome 2 (with compiz and maybe some dock), except in gnome 2 the desktop would still be CUSTOMIZABLE.

    It’s all good trying to chose the “best defaults” for “non-geeks” and forcing them on everybody. But what about the power users and those who like their DE to adapt to their own way of working and not the other way around. Why do we get this feeling that gnome devs are always trying hard to make things difficult for us (removing settings and forcing us to go look for them -if they exist- in gconf) — i’m thinking about menu icons (I happen to like them), minimize/maximize, panel applets, my OWN launchers (where I can decide the exact icon and the command to run etc) and many other things…

    oh and non-geek != dumb

  36. diegoe says:

    GNOME3 chose to create something more integrated so that the experience could be more stable and more cool things could be made.

    If you see the GNOME2 manifestos and philosophy you’ll see that having lots of options and customization wasn’t a goal at all. Sometimes an option is just a workaround for a broken behavior.

    Some stuff is missing in the Shell, some because there hasn’t been time to implement it and some because it’s a decision to not have it.

  37. Manolo says:

    I think minimze button is essential but maximized button is not necesary, you can click or double click in window title.

  38. me says:

    >How can you innovate if you never dare to be different?

    Who needs innovation? Innovation is basically dead on mouse/keyboard controlled desktop. Solid implementation is much more desirable task to archive in my opinion. If one wants to “innovate” he/she should do it as separate project, and not break working familiar experience for users, or force his “innovation” on users.

  39. diegoe says:

    Mmm, the problem with minimize is that in GNOME Shell there’s no where to minimize to. Plus, it looks almost like closing the window.
    That said, as a geek, I could use a “get out of my way and hide somewhere” button. But not a deal killer for me.

  40. diegoe says:

    Sadly we don’t have the resources to maintain both a “stable” and “innovation” branches.

    And anyway, you still have the “classic” experience with gnome-panel and metacity. You can use that if you don’t like GNOME Shell. All the 3.0 version of the applications will work as usual.
    Like if you had updated Evolution to 2.32 but your GNOME Panel was still 2.30.

    That said, if you prefer slower changes in your software maybe you should stick with Debian or CentOS. You won’t see GNOME Shell there until 3.6 or 3.8. It will be much better and mature then.

  41. me says:

    If there’s no “maximize” button, is there an option to force all maximizable windows to open maximized? It would be reasonable.

  42. diegoe says:

    Nothing in “core” GNOME. There’s Devil’s pie, an app that sorts and modifies windows.

    Maximize by default on some apps would be an interesting thing to explore though.

  43. anonymous says:


    glad to hear about actions, as long as i can quit/pause jobs and quit applications by not quitting jobs. but it is not just about epiphany. burning cd, file copy, printing and so on. it would be really nice to se JOBS beside Windows and Applications inside overview. kinda really makes sense with gnome-shell design and simplifies things even more

    and yes, as you suggested i tried d’n’d into actions (would be even nicer if Super key would work too). but this still imposes 1 of 2 things. software has to be started or you get infinite clutter in launch bar to satisfy all needs. what i asked about is just standard dbus messages to describe dragged element and to promote finish of dragging defined with desktop platform (if they want to respect it that lies on specific software). this way one could make custom d’n’d handlers. aka, simply respecting mime type or custom configured trash, printer… again, fits perfectly inside shell design for simplicity and promotes productivity. start dragging and simple toolbar like one in overview slides from bottom or the side containing nothing else but appropriate actions, thus enabling you to simply drop inside and set things into motion. as i said, it is not implementation that is missing for this, what is missing is simple desktop wide message spec. people will have enough imagination to use it in various inventive ways. i know i would

    do not get this as any criticism, IT IS NOT!!! you actually nailed my current desktop just as i would be whispering you my wishes
    – no application menu, gnome-do instead
    – disabled nautilus desktop icons to prevent clutter
    – no need for min/max
    – no need for window list since i use virtual desktops extensively
    everything just got better


    i for one want this innovation

  44. diegoe says:

    Yes, I think the idea is to decouple long tasks from apps/windows. Let’s see what people come up with!

    I see the point for a d-n-d toolbar, an interesting idea to explore. Would be good to comment about it again after the 3.0 release when feedback and ideas start to be collected. Some good ideas pop in my mind about how one would use that!

  45. anonymous says:

    yea, i know. although i’m not gnome developer, just developer using gnome i could still make some mockups of possible implementations if you want.

    but here is the funny thing. since it is needs nothing but 2 messsages start+description and end d’n’d, there is no actual development or timeframe needed. applications like nautilus could simply implement it in their own time, while one making that toolbar wouldn’t need to wait with implementation. practically, exposing any URI on start of d’n’d would be enough. one could even invent URI for its application (warning, bad example here) person://someperson from his application contact list and set e-mail compose as one of drop ins, chat as second. as long as launcher knows how to handle that and start with dropped URI, everything is nice and cozy

    even registration of handlers is not needed. everything can come whenever it comes, or done custom way.

  46. Coulamac says:

    I think a good move would be to add a ui (or at least gsettings) option to make the dash always visible, not just in overlay mode. That might satisfy many of the I-want-my-window-list crowd and offer a less radical departure from the typical desktop experience for the more conservative users. Later, when the extensions mechanism Is fleshed out, someone could even create a window list extension.

  47. diegoe says:

    There’s a “gnome-shell-extensions” git repo in It has a somewhat similar extension to your description.

    Yes, something like a permanent dash would be interesting.

  48. dbdoskey says:

    I think what people really want/need instead of a minimize button is a “Send a window to bottom” option. I think the biggest use case for minimize that isn’t handled by gnome shell is working on, say, 3 windows at the same time, (f.e. terminal, gvim, pdf reader) and then looking something up quickly in firefox, and now wanting to go back to those same 3 windows. If I had a way to tell firefox you are now the least interesting thing for me, similar to minimize, then I could get back to my 3 windows immediately. Now I need to hunt and find those 3 windows again.

  49. diegoe says:

    Yeah, precisely! I’m trying to use workspaces for that, in my case.
    But “get out of my way” would be a nice action.

  50. James says:

    > If itโ€™s a bad decision, weโ€™ll notice in time and fix it.
    Thanks for being the voice of reason.
    I’m not sure if I like the change yet, but I’m willing to give it a fair try. I’ve been happy with gnome’s decisions so far, so no reason not to give them the benefit of the doubt now.

    I will point out that I get the feeling that more and more designers and devs are trying to immitate mac os x. This is not what I’m looking for ๐Ÿ˜› I hope I’m wrong!

    Anyways, thanks for all the code!

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