By Anthony Kiniyalocts

Customizing Your Window Controls

Would you like to add a minimize button to your elementary OS application windows? Many people do, and many have good reasons for why they want to. But for some reason elementary has opted-out of a minimize button...
Believe it or not, the great people of elementary are not mad. They have a very logical explanation for why there is not a minimize button on your application windows.

So, first I am going to show you how to enable the minimize button, but by doing so you are promising me that you’ll read to the end of this article and hear the whole story.


To customize your window controls, open up dconf-editor, navigate to orgpantheondesktopgalaappearance and notice the button-layout attribute (second one down, from the top).
To enable a minimize button, change the field to close, minimize:maximize

This places the minimize button to the right of the close button (that’s just my personal preference). Think of the ‘:’ as a fence, objects to the left of it are anchored on the left and objects to the right are anchored (you guessed it) on the right. You can div and dabble as you please with your custom window configuration!
This topic has caused some buzz over through the development of elementary OS. 

What should the default window controls be?

Is there some standard or protocol for the types of window controls that should be displayed for the user?
Not too long ago, in November of 2011, Daniel posted an entry on the elementary OS journal entitled, What’s Up With Window Controls? In this article, he gives a great background of window controls, their different patterns of use on different operating systems and why they are used that way. Towards the end of the article he tells us that from this point forward in elementary OS, there will be two window controls; Minimize and Maximize.

This choice resulted in a tsunami of comments from various users voicing their opinion, for and against. About a year later, Daniel posted another journal entry entitled, What's (Still) Up With Window Controls? This article illustrated the overwhelming success of their previous choice.

Now onto my story...
I don’t know if this is a conditional response that I have developed over my years of computing, but I often feel the need to have a minimize button. I've added the minimize window control to every fresh install of elementary and never bothered reading elementary's reasoning as to why it wasn't enabled by default.

Once I had the idea for this article, I pitched it to my editor Aaron and he urged me to read those previous journal entries I spoke of. After reading, I was convinced. Daniel's journal entries convinced me to break a habit I've had for 16 years. I urge you to read those entries. I could give you a cheap summary of them, but the source is much greater than run off. The people of elementary have thought long and hard about their user experience, so why not benefit from the fruits of their labor?