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How to Enable ‘Minimise On Click’ in Unity 7 on Ubuntu 14.04

Nitro adds Unity badgeA third-party PPA offers Ubuntu users a version of the Unity desktop that includes an oft-requested feature — ‘minimise on click’.

The patched build of Unity 7 is only available for Ubuntu 14.04 LTS and is not officially supported by Canonical or Ubuntu developers.

Minimise The Contention

The option to minimise an app by clicking on its launcher icon has become one of the most contentious issues concerning Unity since Canonical introduced it on the desktop back in 2011.

Rather than an open app minimising when its launcher icon is clicked, Unity focuses the window. If more than one instance is open it triggers the ‘App Spread’, allowing the user to pick a window from an overview of those that are running.

While most Ubuntu users seem to cope just fine, not everyone is convinced. In a poll we conducted earlier this year asking readers whether an option to enable the feature should be included in Unity, 57% of those who replied answered “Yes”. 

Canonical’s justification for not offering or accepting patches from the community to enable the behaviour seem to be based on an entrenched and focused set of UI and UX aims.

Mark Shuttleworth said back in 2011:

“No, clicking on the icon will not minimise the app. We have a minimise button for that, it’s prominent. Clicking on the icon ALWAYS ensures you SEE the app. Adding minimise will add complications… when would it show the window?

Whatever Canonical’s preference may be it hasn’t stopped developers hacking on Unity to offer what so many users are clamouring for.

Enable Minimise on Click in Unity 7

The PPA housing patched builds is only compatible with Unity 7 on Ubuntu 14.04 and Unity 5 for Ubuntu 12.04 users. Older versions of Ubuntu are not supported.

To upgrade open a new Terminal and enter the following commands:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:zxcq14/minimize-unity-7
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

Notes

Behaviour Changes

By adding an additional action not catered for in regular versions, this build of Unity adjusts other Launcher behaviour features that should be noted prior to upgrading:

  • Clicking on unopened app icon launches app
  • Clicking on open app with sole window and in focus minimises it
  • Clicking on open app with window not in focus, focuses it
  • Clicking on open app with two or more windows triggers spread
  • Clicking on app icon when in spread minimises all windows

Updates

Updates to Unity 7 pushed out by Ubuntu will override the version in this PPA. As such, if this feature stops working at any point, that is why. The maintainer of the PPA will likely try to keep pace, patching up newer versions as and when needed, but these will likely lag behind Unity proper.

With Ubuntu 14.04 in active development, and updates to Unity 7 arriving almost daily, you may want to hold off using this PPA until the stable release of Trusty this coming April.

If, after upgrading, you wish to remove and revert to stock Unity 7 you can use the ‘ppa-purge‘ command to downgrade all altered packages.