GNOME Shell is one of the most used desktop interfaces on the Linux desktop. It’s part of the GNOME project and is considered to be the next generation of the old classic GNOME 2.x interface. GNOME Shell was first released in 2011 carrying a lot of features, including GNOME Shell extensions feature.

GNOME Extensions are simply extra functionality that you can add to your interface, they can be panel extensions, performance extensions, quick access extensions, productivity extensions or for any other type of usage. They are all free and open source of course; you can install them with a single click from your web browser actually.

How To Install GNOME Extensions?

You main way to install GNOME extensions will be via the extensions.gnome.org website. It’s an official platform belonging to GNOME where developers publish their extensions easily so that users can install them in a single click.

In order to for this to work, you’ll need two things:

  1. Browser Add-on: You’ll need to install a browser add-on that allows the website to communicate with your local GNOME desktop. You install it from here for Firefox, or here for Chrome or here for Opera.
  2. Native Connector: You still need another part to allow your system to accept installing files locally from your web browser. To install this component, you must install the chrome-gnome-shell package. Do not be deceived! Although the package name is containing “chrome”, it also works on Firefox too. To install it on Debian/Ubuntu/Mint run the following command in terminal:
    sudo apt install chrome-gnome-shell

    For Fedora:

    sudo dnf install chrome-gnome-shell

    For Arch:

    sudo pacman -S chrome-gnome-shell

After you have installed the two components above, you can easily install extensions from the GNOME extensions website.

How to Configure GNOME Extensions Settings?

Many of these extensions do have a settings window that you can access to adjust the preferences of that extension. You must make sure that you have seen its options at least once so that you know what you can possibly do using that extension.

To do this, you can head to the installed extensions page on the GNOME website, and you’ll see a small options button near every extension that offers one:

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Clicking it will display a window for you, from which you can see the possible settings:

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Read our article below for our list of recommended extension!

General Extensions

1. User Themes

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This is the first must-install extension on the GNOME Shell interface, it simply allows you to change the desktop theme to another one using the tweak tool. After installation run gnome-tweak-tool, and you’ll be able to change your desktop theme.

Installation link: https://extensions.gnome.org/extension/19/user-themes/

2. Dash to Panel

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Converts the GNOME top bar into a taskbar with many added features, such as favorite icons, moving the clock to right, adding currently opened windows to the panel and many other features. (Make sure not to install this one with some other extensions below which do provide the same functionality).

Installation link: https://extensions.gnome.org/extension/1160/dash-to-panel/

3. Desktop Icons

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Restores desktop icons back again to GNOME. Still in continues development.

Installation link: https://extensions.gnome.org/extension/1465/desktop-icons/

4. Dash to Dock

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If you are a fan of the Unity interface, then this extension may help you. It simply adds a dock to the left/right side of the screen, which is very similar to Unity. You can customize that dock however you like.

Installation link: https://extensions.gnome.org/extension/307/dash-to-dock/

Productivity Extensions

5. Todo.txt

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For users who like to maintain productivity, you can use this extension to add a simple To-Do list functionality to your desktop, it will use the syntax from todotxt.com, you can add unlimited to-dos, mark them as complete or remove them, change their position beside modifying or taking a backup of the todo.txt file manually.

Installation link: https://extensions.gnome.org/extension/570/todotxt/

6. Screenshot Tool

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Easily take a screenshot of your desktop or a specific area, with the possibility of also auto-uploading it to imgur.com and auto-saving the link into the clipboard! Very useful extension.

Installation link: https://extensions.gnome.org/extension/1112/screenshot-tool/

7. OpenWeather

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If you would like to know the weather forecast everyday then this extension will be the right one for you, this extension will simply add an applet to the top panel allowing you to fetch the weather data from openweathermap.org or forecast.io, it supports all the countries and cities around the world. It also shows the wind and humidity.

Installation link: https://extensions.gnome.org/extension/750/openweather/

8 & 9. Search Providers Extensions

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In GNOME, you can add what’s known as “search providers” to the shell, meaning that when you type something in the search box, you’ll be able to automatically search these websites (search providers) using the same text you entered, and see the results directly from your shell!

YouTube Search Provider: https://extensions.gnome.org/extension/1457/youtube-search-provider/

Wikipedia Search Provider: https://extensions.gnome.org/extension/512/wikipedia-search-provider/

Workflow Extensions

10. No Title Bar

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This extension simply removes the title bar from all the maximized windows, and moves it into the top GNOME Panel. In this way, you’ll be able to save a complete horizontal line on your screen, more space for your work!

Installation Link: https://extensions.gnome.org/extension/1267/no-title-bar/

11. Applications Menu

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This extension simply adds a classic menu to the “activities” menu on the corner. By using it, you will be able to browse the installed applications and categories without the need to use the dash or the search feature, which saves you time. (Check the “No hot corner” extension below to get a better usage).

Installation link: https://extensions.gnome.org/extension/6/applications-menu/

12. Places Status Indicator

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This indicator will put itself near the left corner of the activities button, it allows you to access your home folder and sub-folders easily using a menu, you can also browse the available devices and networks using it.

Installation link: https://extensions.gnome.org/extension/8/places-status-indicator/

13. Window List

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Officially supported by GNOME team, this extension adds a bottom panel to the desktop which allows you to navigate between the open windows easily, it also include a workspace indicator to switch between them.

Installation link: https://extensions.gnome.org/extension/602/window-list/

14. Frippery Panel Favorites

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This extensions adds your favorite applications and programs to the panel near the activities button, allowing you to access to it more quickly with just 1 click, you can add or remove applications from it just by modifying your applications in your favorites (the same applications in the left panel when you click the activities button will appear here).

Installation link: https://extensions.gnome.org/extension/4/panel-favorites/

15. TopIcons

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Those extensions restore the system tray back into the top GNOME panel. Very needed in cases of where applications are very much dependent on the tray icon.

For GNOME 3.28, installation link: https://extensions.gnome.org/extension/1031/topicons/

For GNOME 3.30, installation link: https://extensions.gnome.org/extension/1497/topicons-redux/

16. Clipboard Indicator

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A clipboard manager is simply an applications that manages all the copy & paste operations you do on your system and saves them into a history, so that you can access them later whenever you want.

This extension does exactly this, plus many other cool features that you can check.

Installation link: https://extensions.gnome.org/extension/779/clipboard-indicator/

Other Extensions

17. Frippery Move Clock

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If you are from those people who like alignment a lot, and dividing the panels into 2 parts only, then you may like this extension, what it simply does is moving the clock from the middle of the GNOME Shell panel to the right near the other applets on the panel, which makes it more organized.

Installation link: https://extensions.gnome.org/extension/2/move-clock/

18. No Topleft Hot Corner

If you don’t like opening the dash whenever you move the mouse to the left corner, you can disable it easily using this extension. You can for sure click the activities button if you want to open the dash view (or via the Super key on the keyboard), but the hot corner will be disabled only.

Installation link: https://extensions.gnome.org/extension/118/no-topleft-hot-corner/

19. No Annoyance

Simply removes the “window is ready” notification each time a new window a opened.

Installation link: https://extensions.gnome.org/extension/1236/noannoyance/

20. EasyScreenCast

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If you would like to quickly take a screencast for your desktop, then this extension may help you. By simply just choosing the type of recording you want, you’ll be able to take screencasts any time. You can also configure advanced options for the extension, such as the pipeline and many other things.

Installation link: https://extensions.gnome.org/extension/690/easyscreencast/

21. Removable drive Menu

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Adds an icon to the top bar which shows you a list of your currently removable drives.

Installation link: https://extensions.gnome.org/extension/7/removable-drive-menu/

22. BottomPanel

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As its title says.. It simply moves the top GNOME bar into the bottom of the screen.

Installation link: https://extensions.gnome.org/extension/949/bottompanel/

23. Unite

If you would like one extension only to do most of the above tasks, then Unite extension can help you. It adds panel favorites, removes title bar, moves the clock, allows you to change the location of the panel.. And many other features. All using this extension alone!

Installation link: https://extensions.gnome.org/extension/1287/unite/

Conclusion

This was our list for some great GNOME Shell extensions to try out. Of course, you don’t (and shouldn’t!) install all of these, but just what you need for your own usage. As you can see, you can convert GNOME into any form you would like, but be careful for RAM usage (because if you use more extensions, the shell will consume very much resources).

What other GNOME Shell extensions do you use? What do you think of this list?

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12 Comments

  1. Jean-Christophe BAPTISTE

    December 25, 2018 at 12:35 pm

    Install only a few of these and you get a Frankenstein DE, crashing every hour.
    Is it really worth it?
    You should not recommend all these extensions.

    Reply

  2. Jean-Christophe BAPTISTE

    December 25, 2018 at 12:38 pm

    Also, I am the author of TopIcon Plus.
    I know the code, I know the API behind: it is very buggy and incomplete, such extensions should not be proposed anymore. The “forks” won’t help.
    Instead, stick to not using tray icons or switch to the libappindicator as poprosed in Ubuntu.
    It is much better.

    Reply

    • M.Hanny Sabbagh

      December 25, 2018 at 6:28 pm

      Hello.

      Thank you for the comment. We already recommended in multiple places not installing all of these extensions, but only some of them according to the person’s needs. I have 10 installed extensions on my ThinkPad x260 with only 4GB of RAM, yet I can smoothly run a game from Steam + Firefox + GNOME Shell with not even a single crash. It’s very much up to the user and his hardware, and we noted that many times.

      Regarding topicons, the only reason I recommended it is because it works well on my testing on 3.28, the other ones didn’t. Redux only worked on 3.30 (which is why I put both versions, according to the shell version). Again, for me, I haven’t seen a problem and very happy with both extensions. Thanks for starting that development, though!

      Regards.

      Reply

  3. bruce

    December 25, 2018 at 7:33 pm

    Yes, Gnome is so heavenly it drove me back to Windows. I used Linux for years, but the quality of the desktop environment has been steadily degrading. The last straw was when Ubuntu moved back to Gnome. My productivity dropped way down. So I installed Windows 10, and I am glad I did. No more unstable desktop shell.

    Reply

    • M.Hanny Sabbagh

      December 25, 2018 at 7:47 pm

      Why didn’t you try another desktop environment instead? Say, Xfce or KDE?

      Reply

    • teresaejunior

      December 25, 2018 at 10:00 pm

      lol, try Xfce

      Reply

    • jiggy

      December 26, 2018 at 4:30 pm

      How did your productivity drop?

      Reply

  4. JKD

    December 29, 2018 at 5:51 pm

    Actually, it is more a matter of installing those extensions in order to make Gnome usable. It will remain a resource hog but, at the very least, it will be usable.

    Reply

  5. Peter Schmitt

    December 29, 2018 at 6:54 pm

    Hi,

    I know Bruce well. We have both been working at MS for a long time. His comment reflects his point of view. It’s normal. I do not agree with his opinion (I told him last time at the cafeteria). But hey, we all have the right to have his point of view. Personally, I receive a lot of W10 user problem messages. Although I work at MS I prefer to use Linux (not Gnome Shell).
    Regards,

    Reply

    • M.Hanny Sabbagh

      December 29, 2018 at 6:59 pm

      It’s not a matter of agreement/disagreement on an opinion, but rather saying: “X desktop environment didn’t work for me so I go back to Windows”.. But there are countless others, why not try them first instead of switching to a total different OS?

      It’s like saying: “I don’t like Edge browser on Windows, so I switch to macOS which has a better web browser”.

      Reply

      • Simon Morgan

        December 29, 2018 at 7:40 pm

        Don’t understand why one wouldn’t use Cinnamon then. I hate GNOME but i am glad there are so many better Linux desktops out there.

        Reply

  6. Edward G O'Connor

    December 30, 2018 at 12:18 pm

    I have been using Linux since 2002/’03., I have used a lot of different desktops, but I like GNome, and I like it in as “plain vanilla” form as I can get it. I don’t use a lot of extensions, just the one for changing User Themes, as some of the themes available are awesome. Everything else?…I leave alone, and it “Just Works”….never had a crash, and don’t get freezes or anything. I’ve heard some people complain about Gnome being buggy, glitchy….laggy etc. …to which I would ask them: exactly how many extensions do you have installed / enabled? because THAT could be the cause of your problems. I never understood why some people claim that Gnome is bad, because it interferes with their productivity? I mean….the THREE seconds as opposed to the ONE second it takes to go to the apps overview, find the app your looking for and then click on it….causes you to lose time?…or hinders your ability to work? Hah!…

    I’ll take that option ANY DAY over the nightmare that is Windows….or the enclosed, encapsulated, “Iron Curtain” ecosystem of MacOS. I have been in the IT field since ’99, and have watched and used every iteration of Windows from ’95 / ’98 through the NT 4.0 years, and Windows 2000….Vista….XP….7…..8…and now 10…(also don’t forget the “joke” that was “WindowsME!”…LoL!) and I have witnessed more than my fair share of BSOD’s and cryptic error messages that require that you go to another computer and look up the code that was displayed on the screen for what?…half a second? I have watched updates just kick in and restart your machine when you stepped away for more coffee. So Yeah….I’ll stick to Gnome…its been my desktop since I first found Fedora Linux and while I loved Gnome “2”?…I actually prefer Gnome “3”. Its fluid….intuitive, and I can get lots done with very little fuss. (hey the CREATOR of Linux uses it…so I MUST be on the right track!..LoL!)

    Reply

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