Reset Unity and Compiz Settings in Ubuntu 14.04

Last updated: June 26, 2014

reset unity ubuntu 14.04

This quick tutorial is going to show you how to reset unity and compiz if you messed up your Unity desktop in Ubuntu 14.04 Trusty Tahr. All you need to do is run two commands in a terminal window.

Don’t be scared if you’re not comfortable with Linux commands. Just copy the code via Ctrl+C, then paste it into the terminal via Ctrl+Shift+V and finally hit Enter to run.

To get started, press Ctrl+Alt+T to open a terminal window. When it opens, run the below command to reset Unity and Compiz settings:

dconf reset -f /org/compiz/

After that, run the below command to restart Unity:

setsid unity

Now your unity desktop and compiz effects should reset to the original status.

To get back the default set of Unity Launcher icons, run below command and then log out and back in.

unity --reset-icons

If you want to restore default icon theme, use Unity Tweak Tool which is available in Ubuntu Software Center.


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33 responses to Reset Unity and Compiz Settings in Ubuntu 14.04

  1. Thanks for the info, but I want to report that the setsid unity froze my system. Had to force a shut down.

  2. You’re officially a legend. Thanks for posting that quick fix for when unity acts up.

  3. Hi,
    I was finding solution for my Ubuntu 14.04 Unity Launcher, in which Launcher is resetting every time I restart my PC…
    I came to this post for trying to reset my Launcher, and when i execute the first command you listed, that is:

    dconf reset -f /org/compiz/

    I got the following error:

    error: GDBus.Error:org.gtk.GDBus.UnmappedGError.Quark._g_2dfile_2derror_2dquark.Code17: Cannot open dconf database: invalid gvdb header

    So I found that my user file is corrupted… and the solution is renaming the corrupted file, like this…

    mv ~/.config/dconf/ ~/.config/dconf.bak

    Hope it may helps for others…

  4. I lost my desktop all I have are three files I downloaded but no side bars or any thing

    • This Linux, get used to it. Every tiny little innocent-looking command can completely fuck up your system.

  5. After hours of frustration and trying any given set of commands, I ended up recreating the user account. Instructions here:

  6. it dose not work on my comupter i have tryed evrything

  7. I couldn’t do thiw beacuase i couldn’t enter the terminal.
    So i do this:
    Enter Ctl+Alt+F1
    $ sudo apt-get install gnome-panel
    $ sudo mv ~/.Xauthority ~/.Xauthority.backup
    Reboot and select gnome login instead of ubuntu default after writing your password to login.
    once logged in open a terminal Ctrl + T
    $ dconf reset -f /org/compiz/
    $ setsid unity
    Reboot again

    After that I could enter in ubuntu default login normally


  8. Thanks a lot !

    I’ve been searching for 2 hours how to reset Unity and Compiz settings without being able to launch a terminal from the desktop.

    Then I found your post and I fixed the problem in 5 minutes.

  9. Woooh!! Thanks a lot , that was a real quick fix

  10. You are amazing Daniel. Saved me from a great tragedy.

  11. Thanks so much for this expert advice! (Be sure to restart after the reset, though!)

  12. For those who just couldn’t start a terminal using Ctrl+Alt+T :

    1. Use Ctrl+Alt+F1 to get a terminal window outside Unity
    2. Login
    3. copy / paste this to the command line : “ln -s /usr/bin/xterm ~/Desktop”
    4. Use Ctrl+Alt+F7 to get back to the GUI
    5. You should have a link to xterm on your desktop now

    Thanks for the initial advice !!

  13. muchas gracias, tuve ese problema y con tu ayuda lo resolví. Gracias

  14. If you disabled composite in Compiz Config Settings Manager you’ll be so very grateful for this post.

    Thanks man!

  15. Thanks! I totally messed up my desktop environment with the compiz gui interface.. all I had access to was my desktop and mouse. thankfully i could open the terminal and input these commands. fixed everything like a charm!

  16. Thanks a lot for the valuable input but the Xauthority could not be found.

    I find a better and simpler way.

    Ctrl Alt-T (to open up a terminal)
    sudo -i (use your password)
    adduser username (create a new user)
    pico /etc/lightdm/lightdm.conf (autologin-user=new user)

    you might want to change the authority of user in the config settings icon of ubuntu afterwards

  17. Carlos Bertholdi May 3, 2015 at 4:12 am

    Thanks man! I messed up with ccsm and make my desktop unusable.
    You saved my day.

  18. it works…thanks man..
    i had installed difrent desktops then when i removed them ubuntu had black patches but its now working correctly

  19. Just to add to Nir’s solution:
    If you’re only trying to re-enable the unity plugin in compiz (for instance, in order to recover missing sidebar etc.) you don’t need to reset unity. Simply install ccsm in xterm (skip this step of you have it installed already) :
    sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager

    And then run it (again in xterm):

    You can re-enable the unity plugin manually now (same for any other settings that might have messed up your system).

  20. when doing “setsid unity”, igot a error msg as “execvp: No such filr or directory”

    Kindly provide solution for this

  21. Jennifer Curry July 2, 2016 at 1:29 am

    How do I move the Character Palette add-on from the navigation toolbar to the Panel. My navigation toolbar has appeared in the panel after adding the Character Palette from Firefox.

  22. Thanks for this. After your two commands, I went to Ctrl + Alt + F1, logged in, and ran $ sudo service lightdm restart

  23. worked like a champ best thing with Ubuntu 16+ you can right click anywhere on the desktop and select open terminal. Thank you for the fix

  24. When I did the unity reset icons command it froze

  25. Guys,

    this commands are the same all over the internet to reset compiz & unity. But it does not help for me. Fortunetely, i found another crutch. So this helps:
    1. create another account in Ubuntu, it will have pretty defaults for unity and compiz.
    2. reboot and login to that account.
    3. sudo into root and OVERWRITE all system-specific folders starting with the dot ‘.’ (e.g. “.gconfig”) from /home/new_account/ to /home/old_account.
    4. reboot again, login into your old account and enjoy – it now works like a charm!! but some settings was reset to defaults, but it is not a problem.

    here is the list of system folders i personally had to copy into old HOME folder: