Restoring The Menu Panel on Linux Mint Cinnamon

I got back into using Linux Mint Cinnamon not too long ago (Good bye, Windows! Hello, Mint 17) (the installation on a computer with NVidia I should write about since that’s it’s own fun mess), but like any piece of complicated software, it has its bugs. One of the more annoying bugs is when the menu panel / menu bar on the bottom (equivalent to Window’s Task Bar) just so happens to lose all of its text and icons…

Or at least everything but a select few items disappear, such as the “Start” or main menu icon and the notifications icon. Those things seem to hang around for me at least.

But before we jump to the solution, you have to know what problem you have specifically. If your entire windows/menu/GUI system freezes (i.e. if the entire Mint Cinnamon desktop has frozen), then the solution you need is to restart it. For this, check the top two answers here:

Frozen? Restart Linux Mint Cinnamon from tty

However, if your problem is like mine (where all of the tabs in the Cinnamon menu panel / menu bar are blank and there is no text), the simple solution is this:

  1. Right click on the desktop and select, “Open in Terminal”.
  2. Type in the following command:
    cinnamon --replace &

That’s it! After a few seconds, you should see things reload. The best part about this is that none of the programs you have open will be closed. You’ll be able to continue working as normal.

The command “cinnamon –replace” basically removes the old Cinnamon “desktop” and starts a new one. I don’t know why the command isn’t “restart”. That would make more sense since “replace” seems to imply the old one is kept around and stored somewhere (which it isn’t) and I imagine most people are going to try “restart” first or will be looking for something labeled “restart cinnamon” online.

Causes of the issue: I don’t know. It seems to happen most when I use Firefox or graphics-intensive programs (Gimp, Inkscape, etc.), but that may be a coincidence.

If Menu Panel is Always Blank

If the problem you’re having is that the menu is always blank, even after rebooting the computer, you might need to reset everything, in which case try this:

gsettings reset-recursively org.cinnamon

Info taken from a help file on the community website for Linux Mint.

Other popular links:

If Menu Panel is Merely Unresponsive

If the Cinnamon menu panel itself is simply unresponsive in that clicking the tabs and such is not working, then the menu may be in edit-mode. To turn off the menu panel edit mode:

  1. Open the System Settings. You can do this by right clicking on the menu panel / menu bar on either the “Start” or “Menu” button or somewhere on the far right (with all of the system tray icons) and select “Configure”. Regardless of the window it opens, there should be a button for “All Settings”, which you should click, and it will take you to all settings.
  2. From the System Settings menu, select “Panel” under the “Preferences” section.
  3. In the Panel settings, click the check-box next to “Panel edit mode” if there is an “x” in it. You want it off. If there is no “x” (i.e. it isn’t checked), then you have a different problem.

If Menu Panel Is Gone

Another problem with the menu isn’t really a problem with the operating system: It’s a setting that has been changed, perhaps on accident. Restarting Cinnamon won’t restore the menu. The Mint menu panel is actually an applet that can be turned on and off in your system settings, so if your menu panel happens to be simply gone, you need to turn it back on again. This doesn’t seem straight-forward since obviously you usually have to reach the system settings through the menu, but like every solution, you can load the system settings GUI via the terminal. I’ve given the solution below. I have checked all but the last step (which I’m sure does work without testing it).

  1. Open the terminal. To do this, right click on the desktop and select “Open in Terminal” from the menu.
  2. Enter the command “cinnamon-settings general” and hit Enter. This should load a general settings panel from which you can reach the other system settings.
  3. Click the “All Settings” button at the upper left part of the GUI.
  4. Find and click the “Applets” setting, which is in the “Preferences” section.
  5. Find “Menu” in the list of applets and activate it. It should be labeled “Main Cinnamon Menu” in the sub-heading. There should be a green button next to it. If there isn’t, you know that the menu is off. Right click anywhere on the row for the “Menu”, which should bring up a tiny list of options, one of which allows you to add an instance or turn on the menu.

And viola! The menu should be restored. The menu applet is read-only, so you won’t make the mistake of accidentally removing it from the settings panel.

I presume that the menu panel can be deactivated if you would rather add and use a different kind of menu, such as a Mac-esque dock.


About chronologicaldot

Just a Christ-centered, train-loving, computer geek.
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27 Responses to Restoring The Menu Panel on Linux Mint Cinnamon

  1. *you rock* and saved my evening. Desktop is restored and I can suspend the machine and go home. Nice! Thank you!

  2. Great post! Thanks to your clear suggestions I managed to restore the menu’s on my machine.

  3. Paul Dunn says:

    Managed to delete the panel at the bottom – all my icons and desklets are still on the desktop, but no taskbar or menu! I know this is supposed to be impossible, but there you go… I managed it. Any idea how to get it back? cinnamon –replace doesn’t work.

  4. I just wish that a fix would come to prevent this from happening. I’ve reverted back to Unity for now because I’m seeing this occur way to frequently after heavy use.

  5. Randall Lind says:

    THANK YOU!! I am new to Linux Mint and deleted my task bar looks for 2 hours to find solution gsettings reset-recursively org.cinnamon worked!!!

  6. Jake says:

    Thanks! Task bar restored!

  7. Many thanks for this quick fix. My task bar had completely vanished but luckily I had a context menu on a desktop right-click to open terminal and the cinammon –replace did the necessary. I think this happens when I come back from a locked screen – it has happened previously in similar circumstances. It’s probably a bug in Ubuntu. Who knows?

    However, your blog post shows the double hyphen as a single one (m-dash?) so when I copied and pasted, it was rejected initially. I’m not sure what you can do to stop WordPress converting double hyphens into an m-dash (unless you wrap the commands etc in ... tags. Which is what I do on my blog.

    Once again, many thanks for this solution.


    • Hmm, it seems the same “double hyphen” translation problem occurs within comments too. I wonder if using code tags works? cinammon --replace If that showed two hyphens, then it works.

      Also missing from my comment above is where I used “code” tags but they have been stripped out leaving only …. Technology!


      • Thanks! Yeah, you’re right, WP messes it up. I hadn’t noticed the hyphen problem. I’ll fix that. In general, options (for programs run in the terminal) with more than one character are always preceded by two dashes, which makes me think most people probably figured it out and that’s why they didn’t complain to me sooner. Sad, but this post is a year old now and the problem still persists apparently. The issue isn’t Ubuntu (which has switched away from this style of interface), but I figure Mint has a small dev-team-to-user-base-ratio compared to Ubuntu.

  8. Morning.

    Even posts that are a year old have a lot of useful information – you solved my problem after all. 🙂

    I’ve been hunting for causes and it seems that there was something wrong in Ubuntu back in 2014 which caused Cinnamon (see, I can spell it correctly!) to lose the panel after a wake up from lock. The last post on that was 8 days ago and it still appears to be a problem. The bug/feature/cause appears to be gnome-screensaver and there’s an apparent fix in the Cinnamon repositories that drops its use and replaces it with cinnamon-screensaver. Well, that’s working then! 😉

    Anyway, I’ll stop pestering you and get back to work. Once again, many thanks for your blog post on this matter, you saved me from a reboot in the middle of some important work. Oh, one other thing, when you do the replace command, the GUI switches from CTRL ALT F7 to CTRL ALT F8 and so on. I wonder what will happen if I get past CTRL ALT F12?.


  9. Eric Foulds says:

    Perfect! Worked for me on my freshly messed up laptop running Antergos..,

  10. Don Gray says:

    My panel menu becomes inoperative at least three or 4 times a week. From your info I can now turn it back on by shutting off the edit function. I just wish I knew how it keeps getting turned on over and over again.

    I’m glad to find such simple to follow info like this to solve my immediate problems without spending a day or two researching or having to type 25 command lines. You’ve made my life as a Windows 7 user who hates command line solutions trying to learn Mint Cinnamon GUI much easier. Thank you.

  11. Edvin says:

    Omg! You helped me so much! Thanks and stay awesome!

  12. rockandbit says:

    thank you so much!!! 😉 .. great post!!

  13. Jan says:

    Fabulous. Too blind to see my task bar was in “edit mode”. This post gave me the hint. Thumbs up 🙂

  14. Tui says:

    “Find “Menu” in the list of applets and activate it. It should be labeled “Main Cinnamon Menu” in the sub-heading. There should be a green button next to it. If there isn’t, you know that the menu is off. Right click anywhere on the row for the “Menu”, which should bring up a tiny list of options, one of which allows you to add an instance or turn on the menu.”

    My button is red and doesn’t respond to right- or left-clicks. I will try some of the solutions above and reply.

  15. stilldvs says:

    Just tried “cinnamon –replace” tip. Worked great! Thanks!

  16. Ty_Lazar says:

    Didn’t work. I have a red dot next to Menu in the “add applets” window.

  17. Manoj says:

    “cinnamon-settings general” bash: cinnamon-settings: command not found…

    iam using RHEL 7.3

    • This blog post is for Linux Mint, not Red Hat Linux. I’m under the assumption RHEL doesn’t use cinnamon, so my advice here won’t help. (I also didn’t know there was an issue in RHEL. Interesting.) The next time you load your computer, if the menu panel is visible, open it up, right click on it, and search for something like “Configure” or some settings option. In Cinnamon, this opens an Applet controls panel for the Menu and presents a button labeled “Open the menu editor”. In the menu editor are lists to the left side of main categories. I clicked “Preferences”, which gave another list to the right. In that new list, I found “System Settings”, clicked on it, and then clicked a button that said “Properties”. This brought up a window that listed the command used by the terminal for opening the system settings window. That’s the command “cinnamon-settings”. I doubt our systems are going to be all that similar in their interface, but if you poke around, you should eventually find a terminal command that opens up the settings window. Keep that command written on a piece of paper.

  18. Florian says:

    If you don’t want to keep the terminal open after issuing `cinnamon –replace` (cause if you close it cinnamon is gone and you’re in trouble), run the following command, after which you can close the terminal:

    nohup cinnamon --replace &
  19. Laura says:

    You are AWESOME. Thank you for helping me get my Menu back. My grandbaby ran her hand across my keyboard and messed up my computer. I have been frantic for hours until I found this article. YOU ARE WONDERFUL !!!!

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