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Access hidden applications and utilities in Ubuntu

A large number of applications and utilities are installed by default with Ubuntu linux and the menus look comprehensive. There are dozens of menu options that enable you to access a wide range of programs.

What you may not realise though, is there are actually more programs and tools than are on the menus. In fact, there are some very useful tools bundled with Ubuntu that are hidden. They simply aren't on the menu! Why is this? It's hard to say, but someone somewhere must have taken the decision to hide them. Fortunately, linux is a highly configurable operating system that enables you to customise it's look and feel in many ways.

To make these hidden tools and utilities visible, run MainMenu (on the System, Preferences menu in Ubuntu). Main Menu is a two-pane display that shows what is available to display the menus, what can actually be seen and what is hidden. Select System in the left-hand pane and in the right-hand pane is Preferences, Administration and Control Centre. This last item is not ticked and therefore it doesn't show on the System menu. Tick it and then go and check the System Menu. You now have a new item called Control Centre. Click Control Centre and and you get a windows that displays everything on the System menu organised into categories with a menu on the left. It's excellent and if you have used other linux distros you might recognise it because some enable it by default.

There are many more hidden menu items that you can make visible. Tick the boxes in the Main Menu tool and then run the program on the menus. If it is useful then keep it, otherwise just clear the tick box in Main Menu to hide it.

Another interesting feature of Main Menu is the ability to rearrange the order of items on the menus. Just select a menu item in the right-hand pane and then click the up or down arrows on the right. You can also add separators - horizontal line breaks - in menus too. This is helpful for organising menu items into groups.

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