Making Ubuntu feel more like Windows

Ubuntu has its own style and its own way of working, but there are ways of getting a Windows "look and feel" from within Ubuntu.


These instructions apply specifically to the plain Ubuntu desktop version of Ubuntu, which uses the GNOME desktop environment. This page does not apply to Kubuntu or Xubuntu.

Taskbar panel settings

There are panels at the top and bottom of the screen, which we can adjust so that they are similar to the default Windows layout:

  1. Right-click the two coloured blocks on the right of the bottom panel, click preferences, then set the Number of workspaces to 1.

  2. Right-click the bottom panel, and select Delete this panel.

  3. Click and drag the top panel to the bottom of the screen.
  4. Drag applications from the Applications menu onto the panel to emulate a "quick launch" area

  5. Right-click the bottom panel, select Add to Panel, and pick applets from the list.
    Here are some specific applets you might want to add:

    • Window List (a bar containing buttons for each open window)

    • Main Menu (similar to the start button)

    • Notification Area (similar to the system tray)

    • Clock

  6. Right click on Applications, Places, and System, and select Remove from panel for each

By default, Ubuntu gives you two "workspaces" - effectively two desktops, side by side. You disabled this feature in step one, above. If you want to try using this feature (or you deleted the bottom bar before you could disable it), add the Workspace switcher applet in the same way as the other applets described above.

Desktop view

Ubuntu's default desktop is empty, but you can add icons by following these steps:

  1. My Computer equivalent: Click Places and drag the Computer icon onto the desktop

  2. My Documents equivalent: Click Places and drag the Home folder onto the desktop

  3. Recycle Bin equivalent: Press Alt+F2, then type

    gconftool-2 -s /apps/nautilus/desktop/trash_icon_visible --type=bool true

    then click Run

The final step deserves some explanation: Alt+F2 shows the "Run Application" window, which is similar to Start > Run in Windows. gconftool-2 alters the GConf configuration system, which is similar to the Windows registry.

Keyboard shortcuts

By default, Ubuntu uses Alt+F1 to open the start menu. To use the windows key:

  1. click System > Preferences > Keyboard Shortcuts

  2. Find "Show the panel's main menu" (in the "Desktop" section)
  3. Click the area on the right that reads Alt+F1
  4. Press the Windows Key
  5. The area should now read "Super L" (left super key)

Windows Fonts

Ubuntu includes high-quality alternatives to common Windows fonts. However, these alternatives are not identical so your existing documents may not look exactly the same under Ubuntu. You can use the most common Windows fonts by installing the following package: msttcorefonts.

Making Firefox Autoselect Text in the Address Bar

Under Windows, clicking on the address bar in Firefox selects the whole address. By default, Firefox under Ubuntu will only select the address if you double-click on the address bar. To make Firefox select when you click once, follow these steps:

  1. In the address bar, type about:config and press Return

  2. In the filter text field, type browser.urlbar.clickSelectsAll

  3. Double-click the value to set it to true

Running Windows applications in Ubuntu

It is possible to run Windows applications in Ubuntu, although it can take a lot of effort. The main approaches are:

These options, especially the last, are not for the faint of heart.

SwitchingToUbuntu/FromWindows/Configuring (last edited 2013-12-13 23:25:30 by knome)