Home Linux Tips & Tricks Reset Linux Desktop To Default Settings With A Single Command

Reset Linux Desktop To Default Settings With A Single Command

By sk
Published: Last Updated on 54.4K views

A while ago, we shared an article about Resetter - an application which is used to reset Ubuntu to factory defaults within a few minutes. Using Resetter, anyone can easily reset their Ubuntu system to the state when it is installed in the first time. Today, I stumbled upon a similar thing. No, It's not an application, but a one-liner command to reset your Linux desktop settings, tweaks and customization to default state.

Reset Linux desktop to default settings

This command will reset Ubuntu Unity, Gnome and MATE desktops to the default state. I tested this command on both my Arch Linux MATE desktop and Ubuntu 16.04 Unity desktop. It worked on both systems. I hope it will work on other Linux desktops as well. I don't have any Linux desktop with GNOME as of writing this, so I couldn't confirm it. But, I believe it will work on Gnome DE as well.

A word of caution: Please be mindful that this command will reset all customization and tweaks you made in your system, including the pinned applications in the Unity launcher or Dock, desktop panel applets, desktop indicators, your system fonts, GTK themes, icon themes, monitor resolution, keyboard shortcuts, window button placement, menu and launcher behaviour etc.

Good thing is it will only reset the desktop settings. It won't affect the other applications that doesn't use dconf. Also, it won't delete your personal data.

Now, let us do this. To reset Ubuntu Unity or any other Linux desktop with GNOME/MATE DEs to its default settings, run:

dconf reset -f /

This is my Ubuntu 16.04 LTS desktop before running the above command:

Ubuntu 16.04 LTS desktop
Ubuntu 16.04 LTS desktop

As you see, I have changed the desktop wallpaper and themes.

This is how my Ubuntu 16.04 LTS desktop turned out after running that command:

Reset Ubuntu Linux Desktop To Default Settings
Reset Ubuntu Linux Desktop To Default Settings

Look? Now, my Ubuntu desktop has gone to the factory settings.

For more details, refer "dconf" command's man pages.

$ man dconf

I personally prefer to use "Resetter" over "dconf" command for this purpose. Because, Resetter provides more options to the users. The users can decide which applications to remove, which applications to keep, whether to keep existing user account or create a new user and many. If you're too lazy to install Resetter, you can just use this "dconf" command to reset your Linux system to default settings within a few minutes.


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Edwin Arteaga October 15, 2017 - 10:33 am

It’s working. Thanks.

huckleberry582 November 16, 2017 - 11:43 pm

This worked for me after I borked my panels all up in Ubuntu Mate 17.10. Thanks for the help.

Mathias March 10, 2018 - 10:03 pm

result :
root@Jungle8:/home/matt# dconf reset -f /
error: The connection is closed

Mark May 30, 2018 - 11:06 am

Worked for me in Mint Mate 18.3. Much obliged!

Joseph June 30, 2018 - 10:40 pm

Shouldn’t this be titled “Reset your Ubuntu desktop” rather than “Linux Desktop”?

siobhan July 22, 2018 - 9:38 am

thanks for this. accidetally messed up my windows whilst tweaking with a mac style appearance. this command got me back to the default zorin appearance.

Dave August 31, 2018 - 5:24 am

Did not work for me with Debian Wheezy. 🙁

Travis November 3, 2018 - 3:27 pm

works for me Linux 19 mate Tara I’ve spent almost a week trying to get panels back to a site I can read the bottom of the page. Thank You

rosiedog18 December 4, 2018 - 12:13 am

worked for me on linux mint 17.3 cinnamon

Yan December 15, 2018 - 6:28 am

Does not work in Ubuntu 16.04 LTS

JosMat February 13, 2019 - 10:03 pm

Worked perfectly Linux Mint 19.1. Thanks for the tip!

V March 5, 2019 - 2:05 am

Thanks I screwed up my linux mint mate 19 tessa desktop really bad.
No panel items only a desktop background.
This command really helped me!

Breeze March 21, 2019 - 3:14 am

Works great on Solus4 Mate!

Mike April 2, 2019 - 12:56 pm

I messed with the qt5 settings and made everything so big I couldn’t get back to the part I needed to fix it. This took care of it. Thank you.

Glenn April 4, 2019 - 4:05 am

The following works Ubuntu with Mate 1.12.1 . cd to ~/.config/dconf then mv user to user.bak logout and log in again. This should reset the desktop and recreate the file user.

Ron May 18, 2019 - 4:14 am

You friggin’ RAWK! I just did an install of Ubuntu Mate 19.04 on a Microsoft Surface 3 and everything was going well until I tried to use Mate Tweak to change to ‘Redmond.’ I’ve been pulling my hair out trying to at least get to the control center. This worked perfect! Thanks again!

walther May 26, 2019 - 12:59 am

Fuuuck!! this is what I wanted!
I messed on my desktop settings with Komorebi and I couldnt find a way to came back neither resetter helped me.
Thanks Man!

John June 6, 2019 - 10:11 am

Worked great. THAAAANK you! Minimized applications now shrink to an icon in the panel once again. Been making me crazy. Don’t know what I did to mess that up and didn’t know how to fix it. My life is now complete – Mint 18.3 Mate

re1Za July 14, 2019 - 6:07 pm

my linux was error before,,all apps crash after using new icon,,but i found this post and it normal again,,
thanks v much 🙂

Juan October 2, 2020 - 9:46 pm


Stephen February 17, 2021 - 4:06 pm

This fix ( dconf reset -f / ) also works on Cinnamon / Ubuntu 20.1 February 2021 You just have to edit your preferences again.
Thanks very much


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