Make your gnome-shell experience more enjoyable

25 Jan 2013 at 00:00:00 - 0 comment(s)

I'm using gnome-shell since it was released along gnome 3.0 in April 2011. I know a lot of people don't like it but I do. However I do need to add a few things to make it more enjoyable and to be fair more usable for work. So here is a post to give you the tips and extensions you need.

1. Extensions

There are few extensions you will want to have:

  • User Themes: because you might want to have a different look'n feel from the default. Not everyone has the same tastes.
  • Weather: just because it's nice to see what's the temperature like where you live and what's the weather going to be or what it is right now.
  • Media Player Indicator: to make the experience of listening music better.
  • Coverflow Alt-Tab: just because it's cool. This one is not really necessary.
  • TopIcons: a must have because you do want to see straight away when someone sends you a message over IM especially when it's work related.
  • TaskBar: another one which really makes your life better to switch between running applications so that you don't have to look for them and waste time doing so.

1.1. User Themes

Install the User Themes extension. Then you need to get some gnome-shell theme you like which you will have to extract in your /usr/share/themes/ folder. Here are a few I like:

Tyr himinn
Get Tyr himinn on deviant art.

Get Zukitwo on deviant art.

I personally use Tyr himinn as gnome-shell theme, zukitwo as gtk+ theme and the Faenza icon theme for my icons.

1.2. Weather

The best weather extension is probably the Gnome Shell Extension Weather by Neroth. You can get it from github.

git clone
cd gnome-shell-extension-weather
make install

1.3. Media Player Indicator

Nothing speaks better than an image, here is what the Media Player Indicator extension does. You can get the Media Player Indicator extension from the gnome extensions website.

1.4. Coverflow Alt-Tab

This one is really here more because it looks cool rather than because it will make your experience of gnome-shell better. You can get the Coverflow Alt-Tab extension from the gnome shell extension website. The name speaks by itself but here is an image of how it looks like:

1.5. TopIcons

This is one of the 2 extensions I couldn't do without. I use IM a lot for work. When I receive a message I need to see that little icon blinking to indicate I received a message. That might go against the gnome-shell philosophy but it's important for my work.

The TopIcons extension is available on the gnome extensions website. Like with the other extensions, here is a little overview:

1.6. TaskBar

This is the second extension I couldn't do without. It's a simple task bar showing your running applications. You can switch between applications, a preview appears when your mouse over an icon. You can also choose to have a "show desktop" icon and to remove the app menu of the application you are on. This extension stopped to work with gnome 3.6 but I have now fixed it. It's waiting for review on the gnome extension website. In the mean time you can get it from here:

git clone git://

And a little preview:

2. Improve the message tray

I don't know for you but personally I cannot stand the notification tray popping up from the bottom of the screen. There are 3 reasons for that:

  • It takes 1 second to show up
  • It shows up when I don't want to because it appears whenever my mouse is at the bottom of the screen
  • The effect of moving the content of the screen up to show that bar is damn annoying

So here is how to improve the default behavior.

To make the gnome-shell message tray show up more quickly, edit /usr/share/gnome-shell/js/ui/messageTray.js and change this line (time is in ms) so change it to 100 for example:

const TRAY_DWELL_TIME = 1000;

To make the gnome-shell message tray appears only when placing mouse in bottom right corner of the screen, edit /usr/share/gnome-shell/js/ui/messageTray.js and replace the line with:

let shouldDwell = ...


let shouldDwell = (x >= monitor.x && x == monitor.x + monitor.width - 1 &&

To prevent upward movement of gnome-shell message tray, edit again /usr/share/gnome-shell/js/ui/messageTray.js and within the _showDesktopClone() function, replace:

{ y:,


{ y: 0,


Notify me of follow up comments