GNOME/Tips and tricks

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See GNOME for the main article.

Keyboard

Turn on NumLock on login

Run the following command:

$ gsettings set org.gnome.settings-daemon.peripherals.keyboard numlock-state on

Hotkey alternatives

A lot of hotkeys can be changed via system settings menu. For example, to re-enable the show desktop keybinding:

System settings > Keyboard > Shortcuts > Navigation > Hide all normal windows

However, certain hotkeys cannot be changed directly via system settings. In order to change these keys, use dconf-editor. An example of particular note is the hotkey Alt- + ` (the key above Tab on US keyboard layouts). In GNOME Shell it is pre-configured to cycle through windows of an application, however it is also 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 Files'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 Files 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.

Keyboard switch with command

To change the default keyboard shortcut Win + Space to another hot key:

For example to change to Alt+Shift: open Gnome-Tweak-Tool (or Keyboard Settings, in GNOME 3.16) and set Typing > Modifiers-only input sources > select Alt-shift. For more information see also the forum thread.

XkbOptions keyboard options

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. Within the Tweak Tool, navigate to Typing > Key sequence to kill the X server and select the option Ctrl+Alt+Backspace from the dropdown menu.

De-bind Windows key

By default, the 'Windows key' will open the GNOME Shell overview mode. You can unbind this key by running the command below

$ gsettings set org.gnome.mutter overlay-key 'Foo'

Disks

GNOME provides a disk utility to manipulate storage drive settings. These are some of its features:

  • Enable write cache is a feature that most hard drives provide. Data is cached and allocated at chosen times to improve system performance. Not recommended unless the computer has a backup battery pack or is a laptop as data would be lost on power failure.
Settings > Drive Settings > Write Cache > On
  • Automatic Mount Options can mount drives and partitions that are GPT based - will use default, recommended options.
Warning: This setting erases related fstab entries
Partition Settings > Edit Mount Options > Automatic Mount Options > On

Hiding applications from the menu

Tip:

Use the Main Menu application (provided by the alacarte package) to hide any applications you do not wish to show in the menu.

Screencast recording

GNOME features built-in screencast recording with the Ctrl+Shift+Alt+r key combination. 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 the gst plugins need to be installed.

Screenshot

Default save directory:

$ gsettings set org.gnome.gnome-screenshot auto-save-directory file:///home/USER/Desktop

Check the gnome-screenshot manual page for more options.

Log out delay

To eliminate the default 60 second delay when logging out:

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

Disable animations

To disable Shell animations (such as "Show Applications" and the wave animation in the top left activities hot corner), run:

$ gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.interface enable-animations false

Retina (HiDPI) display support

GNOME introduced HiDPI 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.

Also see HiDPI.

Passwords and keys (PGP Keys)

You can use the Passwords and Keys program seahorse to create a PGP key as it is a front end for GnuPG and installs it as dependency. This may be useful in the future (for instance if to encrypt a file). Create a key as shown below (the process may take about 10 minutes):

File > New > PGP Key > Name > Email > Defaults > Passphrase.

Terminal

Change default terminal size

The default size of a new terminal can be adjusted in the menu Edit > Profile preferences .

New terminals adopt current directory

By default new terminals open in the $HOME directory. To have new terminals adopt the current working directory: source /etc/profile.d/vte.sh. Add the command to the shell configuration to retain the behaviour. [1]

Pad the terminal

To pad the terminal (create a small, invisible border between the window edges and the terminal contents) create the file below:

~/.config/gtk-3.0/gtk.css
vte-terminal,
terminal-window {
    padding: 10px 10px 10px 10px;
    -vte-terminal-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 and above use:

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

To disable the blinking cursor in Terminal only use:

$ gsettings set org.gnome.Terminal.Legacy.Profile:/org/gnome/terminal/legacy/profiles:/:$(gsettings get org.gnome.Terminal.ProfilesList default | tr -d \')/ cursor-blink-mode off

Note that gnome-settings-daemon, from the package of the same name, must be running for this and other settings changes to take effect in GNOME applications - see GNOME#Configuration.

Disable confirmation window when closing Terminal

The Terminal will always display a confirmation window when trying to close the window while one is logged in as root. To avoid this, execute the following:

$ gsettings set org.gnome.Terminal.Legacy.Settings confirm-close false

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

Enable button and menu icons

Since GTK+ 3.10, the GSettings key 'menus-have-icons' has been deprecated. Icons in buttons and menus can still be enabled by setting the following overrides:

$ gsettings set org.gnome.settings-daemon.plugins.xsettings overrides "{'Gtk/ButtonImages': <1>, 'Gtk/MenuImages': <1>}"

Use custom colours and gradients for desktop background

To use custom colours and gradients for your desktop background, you will first need to set either a transparent picture or else a non-existent picture as your desktop background. For instance, the command below will set a non-existent picture as the background.

$ gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.background picture-uri none

At this point, the desktop background should be a flat colour - the default colour setting is for a deep blue.

For a different flat colour you need only change the primary colour setting:

$ gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.background primary-color <my color>

where <my color> is a hex value (such as ffffff for white).

For a colour gradient, you will also need to change secondary colour setting org.gnome.desktop.background secondary-color and select a shading type. For instance, if you want a horizontal gradient, execute the following:

$ gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.background color-shading-type horizontal

If you are using a transparent picture as your background, you can set the opacity by executing the following:

$ gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.background picture-opacity <value>

where value is a number between 1 and 100 (100 for maximum opacity).

Transitioning backgrounds

GNOME can transition between different wallpapers at specific time intervals. This is done by creating an XML file specifying the pictures to be used and the time interval. For more information on creating such files, see the following article.

Alternatively, a number of tools are available to automate the process:

  • mkwlppr — This script creates XML files that can act as dynamic wallpapers for GNOME by referring to multiple wallpapers.
http://pastebin.com/019G2rCy || see mkwlppr
  • Wallpapoz — Wallpapoz is a tool that provides dynamic wallpapers for GNOME and Xfce desktops.
https://vajrasky.wordpress.com/ || wallpapozAUR[broken link: archived in aur-mirror]
  • CreBS — A Python/GTK application used to create and set desktop wallpaper slideshows for GNOME.
http://www.obfuscatepenguin.net/ || crebsAUR[broken link: archived in aur-mirror]

For setting the XML file as the default background, see GNOME#Lock screen and background.

Custom GNOME sessions

It is possible to create custom GNOME sessions which use the GNOME session manager but start different sets of components (Openbox with tint2 instead of GNOME Shell for example).

Two files are required for a custom GNOME session: a session file in /usr/share/gnome-session/sessions/ which defines the components to be started and a desktop entry in /usr/share/xsessions which is read by the display manager. An example session file is provided below:

/usr/share/gnome-session/sessions/gnome-openbox.session
[GNOME Session]
Name=GNOME Openbox
RequiredComponents=openbox;tint2;gnome-settings-daemon;

And an example desktop file:

/usr/share/xsessions/gnome-openbox.desktop
[Desktop Entry]
Name=GNOME Openbox
Exec=gnome-session --session=gnome-openbox
Note: GNOME Session calls upon the .desktop files of each of the components to be started. If a component you wish to start does not provide a .desktop file, you must create a suitable desktop entry in a directory such as /usr/local/share/applications.

Redirect certain URLs to specific web browsers

Use Chromium for certain types of URLs while maintaining Firefox as default browser for all other tasks.

Be sure pcre (for pcregrep) is installed:

# pacman -S pcre

Setup custom xdg-open:

/usr/local/bin/xdg-open
#!/bin/bash
DOMAIN_LIST_FILE=~/'domains.txt'
OTHER_BROWSER='/usr/bin/chromium-browser'
BROWSER_OPTIONS='' # Optional, for command line options passed to browser
XDG_OPEN='/usr/bin/xdg-open'
DEFAULT_BROWSER='/usr/bin/firefox'

if echo "$1" | pcregrep -q '^https?://'; then
    matching=0
    while read domain; do
	if echo "$1" | pcregrep -q "^https?://${domain}"; then
	    matching=1
	    break
	fi
    done < "$DOMAIN_LIST_FILE"

    if [[ $matching -eq 1 ]]; then
	"$OTHER_BROWSER" $BROWSER_OPTIONS ${*}
	exit 0
    fi
    
    "$DEFAULT_BROWSER" ${*}
    exit 0
else
    "$XDG_OPEN" ${*}
fi

Configure domains for redirect to Chromium:

$HOME/domains.txt
stackexchange.com
stackoverflow.com
superuser.com
www.youtube.com
github.com

Setup xdg-open-web as desktop application:

$HOME/.local/share/applications/xdg-open-web.desktop
[Desktop Entry]
Version=1.0
Name=xdg-open web
GenericName=Web Browser
Exec=xdg-open %u
Terminal=false
Type=Application
MimeType=text/html;text/xml;application/xhtml+xml;application/vnd.mozilla.xul+xml;text/mml;x-scheme-handler/http;x-scheme-handler/https;
StartupNotify=true
Categories=Network;WebBrowser;
Keywords=web;browser;internet;
Actions=new-window;new-private-window;
$ update-desktop-database $HOME/.local/share/applications/

Set xdg-open web as default Web application in GNOME settings: GNOME Settings > Details > Default Applications > set Web to xdg-open web.

Removing film holes/film strip from video thumbnails in Nautilus

Nautilus (Files) overlays the film holes/film strip effect on video thumbnails since Gnome 3.12. To remove or override this effect, the environment variable G_RESOURCE_OVERLAYS can be used to reference the path of a compiled resource (in this instance filmholes.png) and specify the path for the relevant overlay. This environment variable has only been available since GLib 2.50 and will have no effect on versions before this.

Extract filmholes.png from Nautilus.

gresource extract /usr/bin/nautilus /org/gnome/nautilus/icons/filmholes.png > filmholes.png

Edit filmholes.png using your preferred editor and remove the film effect from the image, leaving the transparency and dimensions intact, then overwriting the extracted image.

Copy or move the extracted image where desired, such as /usr/share/icons/ and edit ~/.profile, adding the following export, changing /usr/share/icons/ as needed to the location you placed the file.

export G_RESOURCE_OVERLAYS=/org/gnome/nautilus/icons/filmholes.png=/usr/share/icons/filmholes.png

If ffmpegthumbnailer has been installed as a dependency for another file manager that may generate thumbnails, the Exec line in /usr/share/thumbnailers/ffmpegthumbnailer.thumbnailer should be modified removing the -f flag.

To ensure that no thumbnails remain that may already have the film effect embedded, remove the thumbnail cache.

rm -r ~/.cache/thumbnails

Log out and back in to your session and you should no longer have the film holes/film strip effect on your thumbnails in Nautilus.