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Revision as of 23:10, 25 May 2014 by Kopkins (talk | contribs) (Added info about the gnome-tweak-tool's autostart and the AUR version of gnome-session-properties, because gnome's autostart doesn't work well.)
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GNOME is a desktop environment developed by The GNOME Project.

GNOME 3 has two sessions:

  • GNOME is the default, innovative layout.
  • GNOME Classic is a traditional desktop layout, similar to the GNOME 2 user interface whilst using GNOME 3 technologies. It does so through the use of pre-activated extensions and parameters (see here for a list). Hence it is more of a customized GNOME Shell than a truly distinct mode.

Both of them use GNOME Shell, a desktop shell and plugin of the Mutter window manager. Mutter acts as a composite manager for the desktop, employing hardware graphics acceleration to provide effects aimed at reducing screen clutter. GNOME session manager automatically detects if your video driver is capable of running GNOME Shell and if not, falls back to software rendering using llvmpipe.



GNOME 3 is available in the official repositories and can be installed with one of the following:

  • The gnome-shell package provides a minimal desktop shell.
  • The gnome group contains the core desktop environment and applications required for the standard GNOME experience.
  • The gnome-extra group contains various optional tools such as an editor, an archive manager, a disk burner, a mail client, games, development tools and other non-critical applications that integrate well with the GNOME desktop. Installing just the gnome-extra group will not pull in the whole gnome group via dependencies. If you want to install all GNOME packages then you will need to explicitly install both groups.

Starting GNOME

Graphical log-in

For the best desktop integration, GDM (the GNOME Display manager) is recommended. GDM is installed as part of the gnome group and can be used by enabling gdm.service using systemd.

Other display managers can be used in place of GDM if desired.

Note: Native support for screenlocking in GNOME is provided by GDM. If you choose to not use GDM you will need to use a different screenlocking program such as XScreenSaver.

Starting GNOME manually

If you prefer to start GNOME manually from the console, add the following line to your ~/.xinitrc file:

 exec gnome-session

Or exec env GNOME_SHELL_SESSION_MODE=classic gnome-session --session gnome-classic for GNOME Classic. After editing your ~/.xinitrc, GNOME can be launched by typing startx.

See xinitrc for details, such as preserving the logind session.

After setting up your ~/.xinitrc file you can also arrange to Start X at Login so that you don't have to run startx manually.

Using the shell

GNOME Cheat Sheet

The GNOME Shell Cheat Sheet on the GNOME Wiki explains task switching, keyboard use, window control, the panel, overview mode, and more.

Restarting the shell

After appearance tweaks you are often asked to restart the GNOME shell. You could log out and log back in, but it is simpler and faster to issue the following keyboard command. Restart the shell by pressing Alt + F2 then r then Enter

Shell crashes

Certain tweaks and/or repeated shell restarts may cause the shell to crash when a restart is attempted. In this case, you are informed about the crash and then forced to log out. Some shell changes cannot be accomplished via a keyboard restart; you must log out and log back in to effect them.

Note: Valuable documents should be saved (and perhaps closed) before attempting a shell restart. It is not strictly necessary; open windows and documents usually remain intact after a shell restart however there is a risk that data could be lost if documents are not saved.

Shell freezes

Sometimes shell extensions freeze the GNOME Shell. In this case a possible strategy is to switch to another terminal via Ctrl+Alt+F2 through Ctrl+Alt+F6, log in, and restart gnome-shell with:

# pkill -HUP gnome-shell

All open applications will still be available after restarting the shell.

Sometimes, however, merely restarting the shell might not be enough. Then you will have to restart X, losing all work in progress. You can restart X by:

# pkill X

The GNOME Shell then restarts automatically.

If this does not work, you can try to restart your login manager. For instance, if you use GDM, try:

# systemctl restart gdm.service
Tip: You can also use htop in tty; press t, select the gnome-shell tree, press k and send SIGKILL.

Pacman integration: GNOME PackageKit

Warning: As of Gnome 3.12 the pacman integration with packagekit is very outdated. See this forum thread and this article for more information.

GNOME has its own Pacman GUI: gnome-packagekit.

Using the alpm backend, it supports the following features:

  • Install and remove packages from the repos.
  • Periodically refresh package databases and prompt for updates.
  • Install packages from tarballs.
  • Search for packages by name, description, category or file.
  • Show package dependencies, files and reverse dependencies.
  • Ignore IgnorePkgs and hold HoldPkgs.
  • Report optional dependencies, .pacnew files, etc.

You can change the remove operation from -Rc to -Rsc by setting the DConf key org.gnome.packagekit.enable-autoremove.

Packages updates notifications

If you want GNOME to check automatically for updates, you must install gnome-settings-daemon-updates from the official repository.

Customizing GNOME appearance

The Systems Settings tool (provided by gnome-control-center) is a simple and streamlined panel which covers most basic settings.

More elaborate graphical customization (such as modifying fonts, themes, titlebar buttons and such) can be done using the graphical GNOME tweak tool. gnome-tweak-tool is available from the official repositories. See #Theming below for more information about the subject.

More extensive customisation may require more low-level configuration, using #gsettings and dconf.


To install a new theme or icon set, put it in ~/.local/share/themes or ~/.local/share/icons. You can then activate it using GNOME tweak tool, that is described above.

Alternatively, you can set a GTK (icon) theme via ~/.config/gtk-3.0/settings.ini. In this file you can set the GTK theme (gtk-theme-name), the icon theme (gtk-icon-theme-name), the font (gtk-font-name) and more.

Adwaita, the default GNOME 3 theme, is a part of gnome-themes-standard. Additional GTK3 themes can be found at Deviantart web site. For example:

gtk-theme-name = Adwaita
# next option is applicable only if selected theme supports it
gtk-application-prefer-dark-theme = true
# set font name and dimension
gtk-font-name = Sans 10

It is necessary to restart the GNOME shell for settings to be applied. More GTK options are found at GNOME developer documentation.

gsettings and dconf

dconf is a data store used by GNOME to store its settings. It can be edited with the graphical dconf-editor or the command line gsettings tool. See Customizing the GNOME Shell for a tutorial on using gsettings.

Customize top bar

Show date in top bar

By default GNOME displays only the weekday and time in the top bar. This can be changed with the following command. Changes take effect immediately.

# gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.interface clock-show-date true

Hiding icons in the top bar

When installing GNOME, some unwanted icons might appear in the panel. These icons can be removed by manually editing the GNOME panel script.

For example, to remove the keyboard button, comment out the 'keyboard' line in PANEL_ITEM_IMPLEMENTATIONS:

    'activities': ActivitiesButton,
    'aggregateMenu': AggregateMenu,
    'appMenu': AppMenuButton,
    'dateMenu': imports.ui.dateMenu.DateMenuButton,
    'a11y': imports.ui.status.accessibility.ATIndicator,
    'a11yGreeter': imports.ui.status.accessibility.ATGreeterIndicator,
    //'keyboard': imports.ui.status.keyboard.InputSourceIndicator,

Then, save your results and restart the shell:

  1. Alt+F2
  2. r
  3. Enter

Eliminate delay when logging out

The following tweak removes the confirmation dialog and sixty second delay for logging out.

This dialog normally appears when you log out with the status menu. This tweak affects the Power Off dialog as well. This is not a system-wide change; it affects only the user who enters this command. The change takes effect immediately after entering the command:

$ gsettings set org.gnome.SessionManager logout-prompt 'false'

Show system monitor

The system-monitor extension is included in the gnome-shell-extensions package. The git version is available as gnome-shell-system-monitor-applet-gitAUR in the AUR.

Show weather information

The Weather extension can be installed from the official extension website. The git version is available as gnome-shell-extension-weather-gitAUR in the AUR.

Activity view

Remove entries from Applications view

Like most desktop environments, GNOME uses .desktop files to populate its Applications view. These text files are located in the /usr/share/applications folder. It is not possible to edit these files from a folder view ‒ Nautilus does not treat their icons as text files. Use a terminal to display or edit .desktop file entries. You will need root privileges to edit the .desktop files.

# ls /usr/share/applications
# nano /usr/share/applications/foo.desktop

For system wide changes, edit files in /usr/share/applications. For local changes, make a copy of foo.desktop in your home folder.

$ cp /usr/share/applications/foo.desktop ~/.local/share/applications/

Edit .desktop files to fit your wishes.

Note: Removing a .desktop file does not uninstall an application, but instead removes its desktop integration: MIME types, shortcuts, and so forth.

To hide an application launcher open its .desktop file in a text editor and add the following line:


Sort applications into folders

Gnome 3.12 allows the user to sort applications into folders. A GUI for this is provided by Gnome Software, which Arch does not package (due to PackageKit incompatibilities). However, applications can still be sorted into folders manually via dconf. To add a folder, navigate via dconf to and set the value of folder-children to an array of comma separated folder names:

['Utilities', 'Sundry']

To add applications to these folders, use gsettings:

gsettings set apps "['alacarte.desktop', 'dconf-editor.desktop']"

This adds the applications corresponding to alacarte.desktop and dconf-editor.desktop' to the Sundry folder.

This will also create the folder The constituents of the folder can be updated from dconf or from gsettings, by appending applications to the list.

To name the folder (if it has no name it will simply appear at the top of the applications), set the name key via gsettings:

gsettings set name "Sundry"

Applications can also be sorted by their category (specified in their .desktop file):

gsettings set categories "['Office']"

If certain applications matching a category are not wanted in a certain folder, exclusions can be set:

gsettings set excluded-apps "['libreoffice-draw.desktop']"

For further information, refer to the app-folders schema.

Change icon size

For applications in activity view

To change the application icon size it is necessary to edit the GNOME-Shell theme.

You can edit system files directly (make a backup first) or copy theme files to your local folder and edit these files.

  • For the default theme, edit /usr/share/gnome-shell/theme/gnome-shell.css
  • For user themes, edit /usr/share/themes/<UserTheme>/gnome-shell/gnome-shell.css

Edit gnome-shell.css and replace the following values. Afterward, restart the GNOME shell.

 /* Application Launchers and Grid */
 .icon-grid {
     spacing: 18px;
     -shell-grid-horizontal-item-size: 82px;
     -shell-grid-vertical-item-size: 82px;
 .icon-grid .overview-icon {
     icon-size: 48px;
In dash

GNOME's Activities view has a dash on the left hand side, the size of the icons in this dash will scale depending on the amount of icons set to display. The scaling can be manipulated or set to a constant icon size. To do so, edit /usr/share/gnome-shell/js/ui/dash.js.


        let iconSizes = [ 16, 22, 24, 32, 48, 64 ];

For switcher (alt-tab)

GNOME comes with a built in task switcher, the size of the icons in this task switcher will scale depending on the amount of icons set to display. The scaling can be manipulated or set to a constant icon size. To do so, edit /usr/share/gnome-shell/js/ui/altTab.js


        const iconSizes = [96, 64, 48, 32, 22];

For system tray

GNOME comes with a built in system tray, visible when the mouse is hovered over the bottom right corner of the screen. The size of the icons in this tray is set to a fixed value of 24. To change this value, edit /usr/share/gnome-shell/js/ui/messageTray.js


    ICON_SIZE: 24,


Disable hot corner hovering

Activity view

To disable automatic activity view when the hot corner is hovered, edit /usr/share/gnome-shell/js/ui/layout.js (that was panel.js in GNOME 3.0.x) :

 this._corner = new Clutter.Rectangle({ name: 'hot-corner',
                                       width: 1,
                                       height: 1,
                                       opacity: 0,
                                       reactive: true });icon-size: 48px;

and set reactive to false. GNOME Shell needs to be restarted.

Tip: There are also GNOME Shell extensions that can be installed which will modify this behaviour.
Message Tray

The message tray is shown when the mouse hovers at the bottom of the screen for one second. To disable this behavior, comment out the following line in /usr/share/gnome-shell/js/ui/messageTray.js:

        //pointerWatcher.addWatch(TRAY_DWELL_CHECK_INTERVAL, Lang.bind(this, this._checkTrayDwell));

GNOME Shell needs to be restarted. The message tray is still visible in activity view.


Reduce title bar height

  • global - edit /usr/share/themes/Adwaita/metacity-1/metacity-theme-3.xml, search for title_vertical_pad and reduce its value to a minimum of 0.
  • user-only - copy /usr/share/themes/Adwaita/metacity-1/metacity-theme-3.xml to /home/$USER/.local/share/themes/Adwaita/metacity-1/metacity-theme-3.xml, search for title_vertical_pad and reduce its value to a minimum of 0.

Then restart the GNOME shell.

To restore the original values, install the package gnome-themes-standard from the official repositories or remove /home/$USER/.local/share/themes/Adwaita/metacity-1/metacity-theme-3.xml.

Reorder titlebar buttons

At present this setting can be changed through dconf-editor.

For example, to move the close and minimize buttons to the left side of the titlebar, open dconf-editor and locate the key. Change its value to close,minimize: (colon symbol designates the spacer between left side and right side of the titlebar). Place the buttons in your preferred order. You cannot use a button more than once. Also, keep in mind that certain buttons are deprecated. Restart the shell to see your new button arrangement.

Hide titlebar when maximized

The command below will hide the titlebar when windows are maximised:

# sed -i -r 's|(<frame_geometry name="max")|\1 has_title="false"|' /usr/share/themes/Adwaita/metacity-1/metacity-theme-3.xml

After entering the command restart the GNOME shell. After this tweak, you may find it difficult to un-maximize a window when there is no titlebar to grab.

With suitable keybindings, you should be able to use Alt+F5, Alt+F10 or Alt+Space to remedy the situation.

To prevent metacity-theme-3.xml from being overwritten each time package gnome-themes-standard is upgraded, add its name to /etc/pacman.conf with NoUpgrade:

... previous lines ...

# Pacman will not upgrade packages listed in IgnorePkg and members of IgnoreGroup
# IgnorePkg   =
# IgnoreGroup =

NoUpgrade = usr/share/themes/Adwaita/metacity-1/metacity-theme-3.xml    # Do not add a leading slash to the path

... more lines ...

To restore original Adwaita theme values, install the gnome-themes-standard package.

Miscellaneous settings

Power Management

Turn off Suspend-To-RAM (S3) when closing the LID

This setting is not available in GNOME, gnome-control-center and dconf make this available. The current approach is to manage this on the level of systemd. Edit /etc/systemd/logind.conf, uncomment the HandleLidSwitch line and set it to ignore:


See the Power management#ACPI_events article for more information.

No reaction on lid close

When configuring the lid close events via Power management#ACPI_events, the settings may seem to have no effect. If you have an external monitor connected to your laptop, this is default GNOME behaviour. Disconnect the monitor and the settings should work, otherwise your /etc/systemd/logind.conf may be incorrect. To change default behaviour open the dconf-editor and change org.gnome.settings-daemon.plugins.xrandr.default-monitors-setup to "do-nothing".

Change Critical Battery Level Action (for Laptops)

The System Settings panel only allows the user to choose between Suspend or Hibernate. To choose another option such as Do Nothing open the dconf-editor and navigate to org.gnome.settings-daemon.plugins.power. Edit the "critical-battery-action" value to "nothing".

Switch back scrolling behavior

If you do not like the new scrollbar behavior just put gtk-primary-button-warps-slider = false under the [Settings] section in ~/.config/gtk-3.0/settings.ini:

gtk-primary-button-warps-slider = false

Autostarting / Automatic program launch upon logging in

As of Gnome 3.12 gnome-session-properties is deprecated. Specify which programs start automatically after logging in using gnome-tweak-tool.

Tip: Some users are unable to add autostart applications when gnome-tweak-tool is launched from Gnome's overview. Launching it from a terminal sometimes fixes this. This issue can also be resolved by making changes described in this post. But users will still be unable to add any custom autostart programs such as scripts. gnome-session-propertiesAUR is still available in the AUR.

Editing applications menu

alacarte provides a more complete menu editor for adding/editing menu entries.

Gnome Terminal

Inner padding

To move the terminal output away from the window borders create the stylesheet ~/.config/gtk-3.0/gtk.css with the following setting:

   TerminalScreen {
     -VteTerminal-inner-border: 10px 10px 10px 10px;

Disable blinking cursor

Since Gnome 3.8 and the migration to gsettings and dconf the key required to modify in order to disable the blinking cursor in the Terminal differs slightly in contrast to the old gconf key. To disable the blinking cursor in Gnome 3.8 use:

gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.interface cursor-blink false

If you prefer dconf to the gsettings CLI then open dconf-editor, go to org -> gnome -> desktop -> interface and untick the option labelled cursor-blink.

To disable the blinking cursor in Terminal only use (make sure profile uid is correct one):

dconf write /org/gnome/terminal/legacy/profiles:/:b1dcc9dd-5262-4d8d-a863-c897e6d979b9/cursor-blink-mode "'off'"

Make new tabs inherit current directory (for Gnome Terminal 3.8+)

In Gnome 3.8, the behaviour of how current directories are tracked has changed. To restore this behaviour, you need to source the /etc/profile.d/ file, put this in your ~/.bashrc or ~/.zshrc for zsh users:

source /etc/profile.d/

For more information refer to the Gnome wiki.

Move dialog windows

The default configuration for dialogs will not allow you to move them which causes problems in some cases. To change this you will need to use gconf-editor and change this setting:


After the change you will need to restart the shell for it to take affect.

GNOME shell extensions

GNOME Shell can be customized with extensions. These provide features such as a dock or a widget for changing the theme.

Many extensions are collected and hosted by They can be browsed and installed simply activating them in the browser. More information about gnome shell extensions can be found here.

See when an extension breaks GNOME for troubleshooting information.

Default Applications

While one can right click any file and set the default applications in 'Preferences', the settings are actually saved in $HOME/.local/share/applications/mimeapps.list and $HOME/.local/share/applications/mimeinfo.cache.

Tip: If you are making the change systemwide you may to create the /usr/share/applications/mimeapps.list file yourself.

File browser/replace Nautilus

You can specify a different file manager in the mimeapps.list file as shown below:

User only: add the line inode/directory=myfilemanager.desktop to ~/.local/share/applications/mimeapps.list

Systemwide: add the line inode/directory=myfilemanager.desktop to /usr/share/applications/mimeapps.list

Where my filemanager.desktop is the correct .desktop file for the file manager of your choice.

Alternatively you can trick GNOME into using another file browser by editing the Exec line in /usr/share/applications/nautilus.desktop. See the correct parameters in the .desktop file of the file manager of your choice, e.g.:

Exec=thunar %F
Exec=pcmanfm %U
Exec=nemo %U

PDF viewer

In some cases when you have installed Inkscape or other graphic programs Evince Document Viewer might no longer be selected as the default PDF application. If it is not available in the Open With entry which would be the GUI solution, you can use the following user command to make it the default application again:

xdg-mime default evince.desktop application/pdf


gsettings (which replaces gconftool-2) is used to set the default terminal. The setting affects nautilus-open-terminal (a Nautilus extension). To make urxvt the default, run:

gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.default-applications.terminal exec urxvtc
gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.default-applications.terminal exec-arg "'-e'"
Note: The -e flag is for executing a command. When nautilus-open-terminal invokes urxvtc, it puts a cd command at the end of the command line so that the new terminal starts in the directory you opened it from. Other terminals will require a different (perhaps empty) exec-arg.

Middle mouse button

By default, GNOME 3 disables middle mouse button emulation regardless of Xorg settings (Emulate3Buttons). To enable middle mouse button emulation use:

$ gsettings set org.gnome.settings-daemon.peripherals.mouse middle-button-enabled true

Display dimming

By default GNOME 3 has a ten second idle timeout to dim the screen regardless of the battery and AC state:

# gsettings get org.gnome.settings-daemon.plugins.power idle-dim-time

To set a new value type the following

# gsettings set org.gnome.settings-daemon.plugins.power idle-dim-time <int>

where <int> is the value in seconds.

Changing hotkeys

Certain hotkeys cannot be changed directly via the System Settings panel. In order to change these keys, use dconf-editor. An example of particular note is the hotkey Alt-Above_Tab. On US keyboards, this is Alt-`: is a hotkey often used in the Emacs editor. It can be changed by opening dconf-editor and modifying the switch-group key found in org.gnome.desktop.wm.keybindings.

It is possible to manually change the keys via an application's so-called accel map file. Where it is to be found is up to the application: For instance, Thunar's is at ~/.config/Thunar/accels.scm, whereas Nautilus's is located at ~/.config/nautilus/accels and ~/.gnome2/accels/nautilus on old release.

The file should contain a list of possible hotkeys, each unchanged line commented out with a leading ";" that has to be removed for a change to become active. For example to replace the hotkey used by Nautilus to move files to the trash folder, change the line:

; (gtk_accel_path "<Actions>/DirViewActions/Trash" "<Primary>Delete")

to this:

(gtk_accel_path "<Actions>/DirViewActions/Trash" "Delete")

The file is regenerated regularly so do not comment the file. The uncommented line will stay but every comment you add will be lost.

Hotkeys in Nautilus 3.4 and older

Firstly, use dconf-editor to place a checkmark next to can-change-accels in the key named org.gnome.desktop.interface.

We will replace the hotkey — a.k.a. keyboard shortcut, keyboard accelerator — used by Nautilus to move files to the trash folder. The default assignment is a somewhat-awkward Ctrl+Delete.

  • Open Nautilus, select any file, and click Edit on the menu bar.
  • Hover over the Move to Trash menu item.
  • While hovering, press Delete. The current accelerator is now unset.
  • Press the key that you wish to become the new keyboard accelerator.
  • Press Delete to make the new accelerator be the Delete key.

Unless you select a file or folder, Move to Trash will be grayed-out. Finally, disable can-change-accels to prevent accidental hotkey changes.

Screencast recording

Gnome features the built-in possbility to create screencasts easily. Thereby Control+Shift+Alt+R keybinding starts and stops the recording. A red circle is displayed in the bottom right corner of the screen when the recording is in progress. After the recording is finished, a file named 'Screencast from %d%u-%c.webm' is saved in the Videos directory. In order to use the screencast feature you need to have installed the gst plugins which are:

$ pacman -Qs gst

Modify Keyboard with XkbOptions

Using the dconf-editor, navigate to the key named org.gnome.desktop.input-sources.xkb-options and add desired XkbOptions (e.g. caps:swapescape) to the list.

See /usr/share/X11/xkb/rules/xorg for all XkbOptions and /usr/share/X11/xkb/symbols/* for the respective descriptions.

Note: To enable the Ctrl+Alt+Backspace combination to terminate Xorg, use the gnome-tweak-tool from official repositories. Within the Tweak Tool, navigate to Typing > Terminate and select the option Ctrl+Alt+Backspace from the dropdown menu.

Toggle keyboard layouts

Since Gnome does not consider any configuration in /etc/X11/conf.d/*.conf you have to set the command for layout switching either via the control center with the options Switch to previous source and Switch to next source or if you want to use Alt - Shift combination you have to use the Gnome-Tweak-Tool and set Typing -> Modifiers-only input sources -> select Alt-shift. For more information see also the forum thread.

HiDPI Support (Retina Screens)

See HiDPI.

Other tips

See GNOME Tips.

Tracker (search program)

The tracker provides the Tracker program, an indexing application. You can configure it with tracker-preferences, and monitor status with tracker-control. Once installed, indexing should start automatically when you log in. You can explicitly start indexing with tracker-control -s. Search settings can also be configured in the System Settings panel.

Totem (movie player)

Totem is a movie player based on GStreamer. For information about adding codecs or hardware acceleration, see GStreamer.

Empathy (integrated messaging) and GNOME Online Accounts

Empathy, the engine behind integrated messaging, GNOME Online Accounts, and all other system settings based on messaging accounts will not function correctly unless the telepathy group of packages or at least one of the backends (telepathy-gabble, or telepathy-haze, for example) is installed.

These packages are not included in either the gnome or gnome-extra groups . You can install the Telepathy and optionally any backends with:

# pacman -S telepathy

Without telepathy, Empathy will not open the account management dialog and can get stuck in this state. If this happens -- even after quitting Empathy cleanly -- the /usr/bin/empathy-accounts application can remain running and will need to be killed before you can add any new accounts. Likewise, without telepathy installed, the 'Add an online account' button in GNOME Online Accounts will do nothing.

View descriptions of telepathy components on the telepathy wiki.

Avahi daemon is required for connecting with the People Nearby account, and also in order for some desktop extensions to work correctly like Chat Status.


Cannot change settings in dconf-editor

When one cannot set settings in dconf, it is possible their dconf user settings are corrupt. In this case it is best to delete the user dconf files in ~/.config/dconf/user* and set the settings in dconf-editor after.


When an extension breaks GNOME

When enabling shell extensions causes GNOME breakage, you should first remove the user-theme and auto-move-windows extensions from their installation directory.

The installation directory could be one of ~/.local/share/gnome‑shell/extensions, /usr/share/gnome‑shell/extensions or /usr/local/share/gnome‑shell/extensions. Removing these two extension-containing folders may fix the breakage. Otherwise, isolate the problem extension with trial‑and‑error.

Removing or adding an extension-containing folder to the aforementioned directories removes or adds the corresponding extension to your system. Details on GNOME Shell extensions are available at the GNOME web site.

Extensions do not work after GNOME 3 update

Locate the folder where your extensions are installed. It might be ~/.local/share/gnome-shell/extensions or /usr/share/gnome-shell/extensions.

Edit each occurrence of metadata.json which appears in each extension sub-folder.

Insert: "shell-version": ["3.6"]
Instead of (for example): "shell-version": ["3.4"]

"3.x" indicates the extension works with every shell version. If it breaks, you will know to change it back.

Remove Gnome Shell Extensions

If you have trouble with uninstalling Gnome Extensions via, then probably they have been installed as system-wide extensions with pacman -S gnome-shell-extensions before. To remove them, you have to be careful, because the following instruction removes all extensions from other user's, too:

# pacman -R gnome-shell-extensions

Following that, you refresh Gnome Shell by pressing ALT+F2 and entering restart.

Then go to again and have a look for your installed extensions list. It should have changed.

All other extensions should be removable by pressing the red X icon to the right. If not, something may be broken.

As a final step, you can remove them manually from ~/.local/share/gnome-shell/extensions/* and/or /usr/share/gnome-shell/extensions. Restart Gnome Shell again and you should be fine.

The "Windows" key

By default, this key is mapped to the "overlay-key" to launch the Overview. You can remove this key mapping to free up your Windows Key (also called Mod4), which GNOME calls Super_L, by utilizing gsettings.

Example: gsettings set org.gnome.mutter overlay-key 'Foo';. You can leave out Foo to simply remove any binding to that function.

Note: GNOME also uses Alt+F1 to launch the Overview.

Keyboard Shortcut do not work with only conky running

The gnome-shell keyboard shortcuts like Alt+F2, Alt+F1, and the media key shortcuts do not work if conky is the only program running. However if another application like gedit is running, then the keyboard shortcuts work.

solution: edit .conkyrc

own_window yes
own_window_transparent yes
own_window_argb_visual yes
own_window_type dock
own_window_class Conky
own_window_hints undecorated,below,sticky,skip_taskbar,skip_pager

Window opens behind other windows when using multiple monitors

This is possibly a bug in GNOME Shell which causes new windows to open behind others. Unchecking "workspaces_only_on_primary" in desktop/gnome/shell/windows using gconf-editor solves this problem.

Multiple monitors and dock extension

If you have multiple monitors configured using Nvidia Twinview, the dock extension may get sandwiched in-between the monitors. You can edit the source of this extension to reposition the dock to a position of your choosing.

Edit /usr/share/gnome-shell/extensions/ and locate this line in the source:, (primary.height-height)/2);

The first parameter is the X position of the dock display, by subtracting 15 pixels as opposed to 2 pixels from this it correctly positioned on my primary monitor, you can play around with any X,Y coordinate pair to position it correctly., (primary.height-height)/2);

"Show Desktop" keyboard shortcut does not work

GNOME developers treated the corresponding binding as bug (see due to Minimization being deprecated. To show the desktop again assign ALT+STRG+D to the following setting:

System Settings --> Keyboard --> Shortcuts --> Navigation --> Hide all normal windows

Unable to apply stored configuration for monitors

If you encounter this message try to disable the xrandr gnome-settings-daemon plugin :

$ dconf write /org/gnome/settings-daemon/plugins/xrandr/active false

Lock button fails to re-enable touchpad

Some laptops have a touchpad lock button that disables the touchpad so that users can type without worrying about touching the touchpad. It appears currently that although GNOME can lock the touchpad by pressing this button, it cannot unlock it. If the touchpad gets locked you can do the following to unlock it:

  1. Start a terminal. You can do this by pressing Alt+F2, then typing gnome-terminal followed by pressing Enter.
  2. Type in the following command:
$ xinput set-prop "SynPS/2 Synaptics TouchPad" "Device Enabled" 1

Consistent cursor theme

You may find that the cursor theme used in GNOME is not consistent. For example, it may change when moving the cursor across different application windows. To fix this problem, set the cursor theme by creating an index.theme file which defines the cursor theme according to the XDG icon theme specification. See the following section of the Cursor Themes article: Cursor_Themes#Using_an_index.theme_file_.28recommended.29.

Tracker & Documents do not list any local files

In order for Tracker (and, therefore, Documents) to detect your local files, they must be stored in directories that it knows of. If your documents are contained in one of the usual XDG standard directories (i.e. "Documents" or "Music"), you should install xdg-user-dirs and run:

 # xdg-user-dirs-update

This will create all of the usual XDG home directories if they do not already exist and it will create the config file definining these directories that Tracker and Documents depend upon.

Passwords are not remembered

If you get a password prompt every time you login, and you find password are not saved, you might need to create/set a default keyring.

Install seahorse. Open "Passwords and Keys" from the menu or run seahorse. Select View > By Keyring. If there is no keyring in the left column (it will be marked with a lock icon), go to File > New > Password Keyring and give it a nice name. You will be asked to enter a password. If you do not give it a password it will be unlocked automatically even when using autologin, but passwords will not be stored securely. Finally, right-click on the keyring you just created and select "Set as default".

Windows cannot be modified with Alt-Key + Mouse-Button

Change the dconf-setting "org.gnome.desktop.wm.preferences.mouse-button-modifier" from <Super> back to <Alt>. It is not possible to change this with System Settings > "Keyboard" > "Shortcuts", you will find there only the regular keybindings. The developers of GNOME decided to change this from 3.4 to 3.6 because of this bug report

Gnome-shell 3.8.x fails to load with a black screen + cursor

If you have a non-UTF8 language enabled, Gnome 3 can fail to load. Disable non-UTF-8 locales and perform a locale-gen until this is resolved. For more information see this bug report.

Additionally, if multiple locales of different languages are enabled, it may be necessary to disable all locales except for one (which is UTF-8).

UI elements scale incorrectly

Gnome introduced HDPI support in version 3.10. If your display does not provide the correct screen size through EDID, this can lead to incorrectly scaled UI elements. As a workaround you can open dconf-editor and find the key scaling-factor in org.gnome.desktop.interface. Set it to 1 to get the standard scale.

Tear-free video with Intel HD Graphics

Enabling the Xorg Intel TearFree option is a known workaround to tearing problems on Intel adapters, however the way this option acts makes it redundant with the use of a compositor (adds up memory consumption and lowers performance, see the original bug report's final comment).

On the other hand, GNOME Shell uses Mutter as a compositor which has a tweak known to address tearing problems (see the original suggestion for this fix and its mention in the Freedesktop bug report): the line CLUTTER_PAINT=disable-clipped-redraws:disable-culling must be appended to /etc/environment and Xorg server restarted. This tweak solved tearing problems.

Logging in through GDM or lightdm quickly returns to the login screen without any feedback

As discovered by the person in this thread, some aspect of checking for the existence of and then sourcing a bash_completion script seems to cause this issue. In addition to the bash completion setup in package bash-completion, the Ruby Version Manager (RVM) includes the invocation of a bash completion script as part of it's init. It's worth keeping in mind that whatever causes this issue likely exists outside the exclusive realm of bash completion scripts, and that /etc/profile* is still worth poking around in while debugging even if a completion script isn't found.

Gnome System Icons are not loaded properly

Problems with the loading of system icons, such the ones in the title bar of Nautilus, might be solved by (re)installing the package gdk-pixbuf2.

This may also fix the "oh no" screen and/or very slow loading and login with GDM as described in this thread.

External links