Sometimes when you change a configuration in Unity that is based on configuration files, you need to force Unity to reload. In most guides that I’ve found, the recommendation is to simply log out and log in again. While this works, losing everything that you have open just to force a reloading of configuration files is a bit much. Fortunately, there is a very easy way to force Unity to reload.

These details are specific to Unity running in Ubuntu 12.10, but should work as long as your system is running Unity.

  1. Load a run dialog by pressing Alt+F2
  2. Type unity --replace
  3. Press the Enter key

The screen will flicker and things will start to look normal again in a few seconds. This is due to the entire desktop reloading. The end result is that the configuration files will have reloaded. The only side effects are that your windows may be reordered in the alt-tab listing and some windows may switch their desktop (typically, I have at least one window from my second desktop switch over to my first desktop).