A perfect Unity adapted to you

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With a few tools, you can adjust the Ubuntu Unity desktop exactly to your liking.

The ability to customize the desktop of a Linux system is one of the incentives for using open source software – be it Unity [1] in Ubuntu, Xfce [2], or the Gnome Desktop [3]. As a user, you can select which interface you want to use and change numerous settings within it.

The following tutorial looks at your options in Ubuntu 16.04 (although I also touch upon configurations for earlier versions) and at settings for the Unity desktop. Additional tools that integrate seamlessly into the system help you customize the desktop.

The settings, of course, also apply to other distributions. Using the additional tools, you can customize almost all the graphical settings of the desktop, integrating additional themes, launchers for programs, and more. In many cases, utilities help you to improve your experience.

Keyboard & Language

Often the first step after the installation of most systems – including Ubuntu – is to select the correct language. If your choice of language is not enabled on the system, you can change the language in the system settings.

To do so on Ubuntu, press the button with the gear icon at the top. Launch the language settings via System Settings | Language Support . In this window, you will see the installed language packs. After you have selected, for example, Spanish as a language, the Unity desktop should come up with the new language support after a reboot.

It is important for your choice to be at the top of the list, you then enable the setting by pressing Apply Globally . Clicking on Text Input lets you customize the keyboard layout, if needed. After pressing the plus sign, you can select the desired language and variant. Unity then displays the keyboard layout in the toolbar above.

If you only use one language on the system, this reminder is typically not necessary. You can hide the reminder by right-clicking the icon and accessing the settings from the context menu. If you disable the option Show current input source in the upper menu bar , the unnecessary icon disappears.

In the context of setting up the keyboard, you can define your own keyboard shortcuts, if necessary, that you then use to automatically launch specific programs. Ubuntu groups the settings for this under the System Settings | Keyboard menu and Keyboard Shortcuts | My Keyboard Shortcuts tab.

Pressing the plus sign lets you add new shortcuts while the existing shortcuts are visible in the window. You can remove shortcuts by pressing the minus sign. For example, to access the system monitor via a keyboard shortcut, you need the gnome-system-monitor command. After clicking on the area next to Disabled , you can enter a new shortcut key.

Search, Resolution, and More

If you're running version 15.10, one annoying thing – especially when using Unity in Ubuntu – is the online search within the context of a Dash search. After entering a text, the function does not just search the local computer, existing documents, and installed programs; it also searches many sources on the Internet, including Wikipedia and Amazon. Fortunately, this action is disabled by default in 16.04.

And, you can easily adjust this behavior in other versions via the button with the gear icon in the top right toolbar: If you go to System Settings | Security and privacy , you will see the Search tab option called Also process online search results . If you disable this, the Dash search in Unity only shows you the results from the local machine.

Many users are also annoyed by the fact that Ubuntu activates the screen saver after some time and then requires a password to return to the desktop. If no other user has access to your own personal computer, the option doesn't make any sense. Of course, you can still use the screen saver if desired.

To adjust this to your preference, you will find the setting after typing lock and running the tool Brightness and Lock tool. After disabling the lock option along with the Require password to wake the computer from standby option, you no longer need to enter a password. In the same dialog, you can control if and when the monitor is switched off.

You define the display resolution in the system settings, and you will need the option Screen and Display Devices for this. Display Devices takes you to the display resolutions and the Starter configuration, whereas Screen lets you modify the wallpaper, symbols in the starter bar, and other settings. You can also launch this dialog by selecting Change the desktop background in the context menu of the desktop.

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