From this answer I learned that Plank has a Preferences panel hidden away that can be summoned via:

$ plank --preferences

and looks like this:

enter image description here

Why is this not part of the desktop preferences plug?

enter image description here

  • 1
    Wish it was too, +1
    – user3
    Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 15:40
  • 1
    I'm sure Dan (or someone else from UX) could explain it better (so I'm not writing a full answer), but I guess it basically boils down to providing sensible defaults and mechanisms to change the settings automatically if needed. It's kind of the design philosophy for elementary OS: "if you really want to change settings, great, but you'll have to figure out how". Fewer settings easily accessible result in fewer problems for users as stuff works as intended by the designers. But keep in mind that's just my view, not an official answer :-)
    – embik
    Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 15:50
  • 3
    pressing CTRL and right-clicking Plank gives access to preferences
    – user170
    Commented Mar 28, 2016 at 17:24

2 Answers 2


It kind of comes from a place of what Plank is from a historical perspective.

Back in the GNOME 2 days, there were quite a few docks around. Docky, AWN, Cairo Dock, Kiba, probably a couple of others I don't remember. LibPlank was supposed to be a way that all these dock developers could collaborate on a common base (get it, because you build a dock using planks?). So plank itself is more-or-less a reference implementation of LibPlank. That's kind of why it has a whole bunch of different settings to begin with. It's meant as something you build all kinds of different docks with.

In elementary OS, we technically ship a minor fork called Pantheon Dock. while Pantheon Dock still currently carries all the features of Plank (it sounds like soon we'll have to patch one out for legal reasons, but that's a whole other thing), we don't expose all of them because not all of them make sense in the context of Pantheon or they're only partially implemented.

For example, Plank can be positioned at the top of the display. Maybe this makes sense in another DE, but it doesn't in Pantheon. You can also align it to the left, but it doesn't respect other panels so it can cover the applications menu. You can manually choose a theme, but Plank automatically uses the theme from your system theme, so this doesn't make sense for us either. You can enable Pressure Reveal, which is a great feature but doesn't work with certain input devices like Wacom Tablets. You can set any icon size you want, but we don't supply icons in every possible size so they'll be blurry.

TL;DR These options are more-or-less debugging options meant for developers. Not all of them work or make sense in Pantheon. Some of them are works in progress and we hope to have them enabled or exposed some day.

  • long story short: "some of the options of plank are work in progress, that is the reason for hiding preferences by default" Am I correct? Please correct me, if wrong :)
    – Ravan
    Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 8:04

I have suggested this in Launchpad as Blueprint for Switchboard. These sort of feature requests should be carried out on Launchpad, where the developers can see them and decide whether to work on them or not. This StackExchange site is for Technical Q&A, not feature suggestions.


  • TW this wasn't a suggestion. I'm asking about the rationale behind not including these settings by default and instead making them available but hidden away.
    – Gabriel
    Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 15:35
  • Thanks for adding the blueprint though.
    – Gabriel
    Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 15:36
  • My guess is that the developers of Plank don't have any relation to the developers at Switchboard. Plank is it's own entity, and it's up to Switchboard to keep up with Plank. Therefore it would be most effective to ask the Switchboard devs to support this feature from Plank. :) My apologies if my answer came across as snarky. (Same with rationale, better to ask the people themselves than the general community here)
    – TW80000
    Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 15:59

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