I am a long time Windows user and I cannot for the life of me understand the rational behind not having a minimize button. What is the reasoning for this decision?

Is there a way to get a minimize window control button?

  • Which version of Elementary OS are you using? Freya or Luna? Commented Feb 1, 2016 at 12:58
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    I am using Freya
    – Ron
    Commented Feb 1, 2016 at 13:05
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    Never mind, forget it.. I just noticed I can't put ANYTHING on my desktop.. I guess this OS is just not for me.. Thanks for the help.
    – Ron
    Commented Feb 1, 2016 at 13:14
  • You can change that as well. See this: elementaryos.stackexchange.com/questions/9/… Commented Feb 1, 2016 at 13:18
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    Well, I can see no reasonable answer why I should "tweak" such basic functionality.. And regarding the dock minimize - if I have two windows of the same app (say midori) and I want to minimize just one - clicking the dock icon will minimize all of them...
    – Ron
    Commented Feb 1, 2016 at 13:23

2 Answers 2


Apps designed for elementary OS save their state and open and close instantly. In this way, there is functionally little difference between close and minimize. You can read more about the rationale on the elementary blog. There is also a follow up post.

What can I do instead of minimizing?

There is still a way to minimize an application in elementary OS. You can click on the app's icon in the dock and it will minimize.

Consider simply closing the app. It's [current year] and computers are fast.

Use the multitasking view. You can use the shortcut in the dock, keyboard shortcuts, or hotcorners to easily access this view. In this way, you can keep vital applications open while maintaining a clean workspace.

I really want to minimize. How can I get the button?

You can use the Terminal command gsettings to get under the hood and change the button-layout settings key. You can play with this command to get lots of different kinds of layouts, but here are the common ones:

For a Windows-like layout:

gsettings set org.pantheon.desktop.gala.appearance button-layout :minimize,maximize,close

For something like Mac OS X:

gsettings set org.pantheon.desktop.gala.appearance button-layout close,minimize,maximize

To revert to the standard layout:

gsettings set org.pantheon.desktop.gala.appearance button-layout close:maximize
  • 4
    You *should* - absolutely should! - clarify that this (saving and restoring state) only works for applications that are designed for/by elementary, and a few select applications that just happen to work that way. 3rd party applications cannot be guaranteed or expected to comply.
    – RolandiXor
    Commented Feb 4, 2016 at 3:06
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    Probably also worth noting that elementary apps (or all GTK+ apps?) draw their own title bars and unfortunately don't respect this setting.
    – elmato
    Commented Feb 4, 2016 at 13:47
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    @elmato There is also a setting at org.gnome.desktop.wm but it doesn't seem to work in Freya for CSD apps. It will work in Loki. Commented Feb 4, 2016 at 18:11
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    Google Chrome, for one, closes all your tabs for you if you close the window. Also to Ashley Wrench's comment, ctrl+H brings up your history in Chrome. There is and always will be a big difference in the expected behavior of Closing and Minimizing. Even if Chrome DID save all my tabs, I would prefer to not have a bunch of junk tabs every time I open a fresh browser. Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 0:38
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    The first two sentences is a false promise. I opened the bundled web browser, Epiphany (it must have been "designed for Elementary", right?) and downloaded a large file. Now, of course I did not want to stare at the browser until the download finishes. If the first two sentences were correct, if I close the browser, it should keep downloading, but oh no. It asked me if I want to cancel the download or cancel (closing). So, if I cannot effectively "minimise" the browser window by closing it. And since there is no minimise button, I could not minimise the browser. This is stupid and dumb. Commented Dec 5, 2019 at 11:01

You can get the minimize button with elementary-tweaks. Follow the following steps.

Step 1: Install elementary-tweaks (For Elementary Freya)

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:mpstark/elementary-tweaks-daily
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install elementary-tweaks

Step 2: Go to System Settings > Tweaks.

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In the Appearance section you can change the windows control according to your likings.

In the elementary-tweaks you can find more options to tweak you Elementary OS

  • 2
    Thanks, I heard that elementary-tweaks are not official, so what if they are no longer supported at some point? What if some programs dont work with them? I'll try the tweak.. But why not add this as an official option to the operating system? Elementary is "a replacement to Windows and Apple" - both of them have minimize..
    – Ron
    Commented Feb 1, 2016 at 13:01
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    This answer should be updated to use the latest elementary-tweaks—the mpstark ppa is outdated (I'd edit it myself but I've already filled the queue...)
    – wolf
    Commented Oct 2, 2016 at 2:36
  • I agree with Ron. Not having minimize is going to frustrate my grandmama Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 0:43

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