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GNOME (/(ɡ)noʊm/) is a desktop environment that aims to be simple and easy to use. It is designed by The GNOME Project and is composed entirely of free and open-source software. The default display is Wayland instead of Xorg and the available sessions are

  • GNOME, the default, runs GNOME Shell on Wayland. Traditional X applications are run through Xwayland.
  • GNOME Classic provides a "traditional desktop experience" (with an interface similar to GNOME 2) by using certain extensions and values. Thus, it is a customized form of GNOME Shell rather than a truly distinct mode.
  • GNOME on Xorg runs GNOME Shell using Xorg.


Two package groups are available:

  • gnome contains the base GNOME desktop and the well-integrated core applications;
  • gnome-extra contains further GNOME applications, including an email client, an IRC client, GNOME Tweaks, a set of games and development tools. Note that this group builds on the gnome group.

The base desktop consists of GNOME Shell, a plugin for the Mutter window manager. It can be installed separately with gnome-shell.

Note: mutter acts as a composite manager for the desktop, employing hardware graphics acceleration to provide effects aimed at reducing screen clutter. The 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.

Unstable releases can also be used, see Official repositories#gnome-unstable.


GNOME can be started either graphically with a display manager or manually from the console (some features may be missing). The display manager included in gnome is GDM.

Note: Support for screen locking (and more) in GNOME is provided by GDM. If GNOME is not started with GDM, another screen locker may be used. See List of applications/Security#Screen lockers.


If you installed the gnome group and want GNOME to start automatically on next boot, enable gdm.service. You can then select the desired session: GNOME, GNOME Classic (only displayed if gnome-shell-extensions is installed), or GNOME on Xorg from the display manager's session menu. Wayland sessions can be enabled/disabled in the GDM config.

If you prefer to start GNOME right away, thereby avoiding a reboot, start the aforementioned gdm.service from a graphically unoccupied tty instead.


Xorg sessions

  • For the GNOME on Xorg session, add to the ~/.xinitrc file (see [1] for details):
    export XDG_SESSION_TYPE=x11
    export GDK_BACKEND=x11
    exec gnome-session
  • For the GNOME Classic session, add to the ~/.xinitrc file:
    export GNOME_SHELL_SESSION_MODE=classic
    exec gnome-session

After editing the ~/.xinitrc file, GNOME can be launched with the startx command (see xinitrc for additional details, such as preserving the logind session). After setting up the ~/.xinitrc file, it can also be arranged to Start X at login, e.g. on tty1 by adding to .bash_profile:

if [[ -z $DISPLAY && $(tty) == /dev/tty1 ]]; then
  XDG_SESSION_TYPE=x11 GDK_BACKEND=x11 exec startx

Wayland sessions

The factual accuracy of this article or section is disputed.

Reason: Executing gnome-session via dbus may cause issues or not work at all. Some issues include the inability to start Chrome/Chromium and the lack of a sound device. Running gnome-session directly may work better. (Discuss in Talk:GNOME#Manually start a Wayland session)
Note: An X server is still necessary to run applications that have not yet been ported to Wayland, see Wayland#Xwayland for details. Applications using certain graphics libraries, such as Qt, can be forced to use Wayland by setting environment variables. See Wayland#GUI libraries for more information.

Manually starting a Wayland session is possible with:

$ XDG_SESSION_TYPE=wayland dbus-run-session gnome-session

Running gnome-shell --wayland directly is not recommended, because it lacks session management.

Note that manual invocation of Gnome does not require gdm (consequently also the accompanying gdm.service) at all and is thus also accessible for users with a (possibly very) minimal installation of Gnome composing of a selected few packages included in the more inclusive gnome group in accordance to personal preference.

To start on login to tty1, add the previous line of code to your .bash_profile. Firefox and QT applications do not respect XDG_SESSION_TYPE, so add variables for them as well:

if [[ -z $DISPLAY && $(tty) == /dev/tty1 && $XDG_SESSION_TYPE == tty ]]; then
  MOZ_ENABLE_WAYLAND=1 QT_QPA_PLATFORM=wayland XDG_SESSION_TYPE=wayland exec dbus-run-session gnome-session

GNOME applications in Wayland

When the GNOME session is used, GNOME applications will be run using Wayland. For debugging cases, and list options and environment variables.


To learn how to use the GNOME shell effectively, read the GNOME Shell Cheat Sheet; it highlights GNOME shell features and keyboard shortcuts. Features include task switching, keyboard use, window control, the panel, overview mode, and more. A few of the shortcuts are:

  • Super+m: show notification list
  • Super+a: show application grid
  • Alt+Tab: cycle active applications
  • Alt+` (the key above Tab on US keyboard layouts): cycle windows of the application in the foreground
  • Alt+F2, then enter r or restart: restart the shell in case of graphical shell problems (only in X/legacy mode, not in Wayland mode).

See /Tips and tricks#Navigation for changes to the default configuration making the window-switching resemble that of Windows.

See Keyboard navigation for more shortcuts.

Legacy names

Note: Some GNOME programs have undergone name changes where the application's name in documentation and about dialogs has been changed but the executable name has not. A few such applications are listed in the table below.
Tip: Searching for the legacy name of an application in the Shell search bar will successfully return the application in question. For instance, searching for nautilus will return Files.
Current Legacy
Files Nautilus
Web Epiphany
Text Editor Gedit
Videos Totem
Main Menu Alacarte
Document Viewer Evince
Disk Usage Analyzer Baobab
Image Viewer EoG (Eye of GNOME)
Passwords and Keys Seahorse
GNOME Translation Editor Gtranslator


GNOME Settings (gnome-control-center) and GNOME applications use the dconf configuration system to store their settings.

You can directly access the dconf database using the gsettings(1) command line tool. This also allows you to configure settings not exposed by the user interfaces. Command line tool dconf(1) can directly modify the underlying database, bypassing validation. The configuration keys of gsettings and dconf are equivalent, but in a slightly different format: gsettings set mygroup.mysubgroup mysetting myvalue in gsettings would be dconf write /mygroup/mysubgroup/mysetting myvalue in dconf.

Up until GNOME 3.24, settings were applied by the GNOME settings daemon (located at /usr/lib/gnome-settings-daemon/gnome-settings-daemon), which could be run outside of a GNOME session.

GNOME 3.24, however, replaced the GNOME settings daemon with several separate settings plugins /usr/lib/gnome-settings-daemon/gsd-* which were later moved to /usr/lib/gsd-*. These plugins are now controlled via desktop files under /etc/xdg/autostart/ (matching org.gnome.SettingsDaemon.*.desktop). To run these plugins outside of a GNOME session, you will now need to copy/edit the appropriate desktop entries to ~/.config/autostart.

The configuration is usually performed user-specific; this section does not cover how to create configuration templates for multiple users.

System settings


The daemon colord reads the display's EDID and extracts the appropriate color profile. Most color profiles are accurate and no setup is required; however, for those that are not accurate, or for older displays, color profiles can be put in ~/.local/share/icc/ and directed to.

Night Light

GNOME comes with a built-in blue light filter similar to Redshift. You can enable and customise the time you want to enable Night Light from the display settings menu. Furthermore, you can tweak the kelvin temperature with the following dconf setting, where 5000 is an example value:

$ gsettings set org.gnome.settings-daemon.plugins.color night-light-temperature 5000
Tip: To change the daytime temperature in a Wayland session, install the Night Light Slider extension.
Note: Night Light works on NVIDIA cards in Wayland sessions since version 545.29.02

Date & time

If the system has a configured Network Time Protocol daemon, it will be effective for GNOME as well. The synchronization can be set to manual control from the menu, if required.

GNOME supports automatic time zone selection (can be enabled in Date & Time section of the system settings, given that location services are enabled (see Privacy section of the settings).

To show the date in the top bar, execute:

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

Additionally, to show week numbers in the calendar opened on the top bar, execute:

$ gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.calendar show-weekdate true

Default applications

Upon installing GNOME for the first time, you may find that the wrong applications are handling certain protocols. For example, totem opens videos instead of a previously used VLC. Some of the associations can be set from system settings via Default Applications.

For other protocols and methods, see Default applications for configuration.

Mouse and touchpad

Most touchpad settings can be set from system settings via Mouse & Touchpad.

Depending on your device, other configuration settings may be available, but not exposed via the default GUI. For example, a different touchpad click-method

$ gsettings range org.gnome.desktop.peripherals.touchpad click-method

to be set manually:

$ gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.peripherals.touchpad click-method 'fingers'

or via gnome-tweaks.

Note: The synaptics driver is not supported by GNOME. Instead, you should use libinput. See this bug report.
Resize windows by mouse

By default, you can use your mouse to move windows by holding down Super, clicking and holding the left mouse button and dragging the mouse around.

Additionally, you can enable using your mouse to resize windows by holding down Super, clicking and holding the right mouse button and dragging the mouse around:

$ gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.wm.preferences resize-with-right-button true

If you don't like the Super key, you can also change the modifier to something else, like Alt or Ctrl:

$ gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.wm.preferences mouse-button-modifier "'<Alt>'"


NetworkManager is the native tool of the GNOME project to control network settings from the shell. If you have not already, install the networkmanager package and enable the NetworkManager.service systemd unit.

While any other network manager can be used alternatively, NetworkManager provides the full integration via the shell network settings and a status indicator applet network-manager-applet (not required for GNOME).

Note: Hidden wireless networks set up with networkmanager's nmtui do not connect automatically. You need to create a new profile using GNOME control center in order to restore auto-connect capabilities for that network.

Online accounts

Some online accounts, such as ownCloud, require gvfs-goa to be installed for full functionality in GNOME applications such as GNOME Files and GNOME Documents [2].

See Online accounts for more information.


The GNOME shell has a search that can be quickly accessed by pressing the Super key and starting to type. The tracker3 package is installed by default as a dependency of tracker3-miners from the gnome group and provides an indexing application and metadata database. It can be configured with the Search menu item in Settings. It is started automatically by gnome-session when the user logs in. Tracker does not automatically recurse into all directories under the user's home directory, so you may need to add custom paths via the Search > Search locations menu item. To exclude a directory from the indexing, create an empty .nomedia file. See also Tracker FAQ.

A status is available with tracker3 status and indexing can be started manually with tracker3 daemon -s. The Tracker database can be queried using the tracker3 sparql command. See tracker3-sparql(1) for more information.


GNOME has accessibility settings available via Settings > Accessibility. The main settings may be toggled directly after enabling a top bar icon, but note further settings are available via the sub-menus for Seeing, Hearing, Typing, Pointing and clicking and Zoom.

Device Security Settings

GNOME 43 comes with a new Device Security panel in Settings. This requires fwupd in order to function. See [3].

Advanced settings

As noted above, many configuration options such as changing the GTK theme or the window manager theme are not exposed in GNOME Settings (gnome-control-center). Those users that want to configure these settings may wish to use the GNOME Tweaks (gnome-tweaks), a convenient graphical tool which exposes many of these settings.

GNOME settings (which are stored in the DConf database) can also be configured using the dconf-editor(1) (a graphical DConf configuration tool) or the gsettings command line tool. The GNOME Tweaks does not do anything else in the background of the GUI; note though that you will not find all settings described in the following sections in it.


The catalogue of extensions is available at, they can be installed either through official repositories (only a few), the AUR or through the browser.

The factual accuracy of this article or section is disputed.

Reason: The note below suggests manual user file management as recommended since it is "easier" but does not explain why. (Discuss in Talk:GNOME)
  • Installing extensions through the browser makes them available for the current user only and requires you to manually update each one. This is the easier method.
    • Additionally, if you decided to install extensions from the browser instead, you need to install gnome-browser-connector. It is not required to install extensions from the official repositories or the AUR.
  • Installing extensions through the AUR (or through official repositories, if you find them there) makes them available system-wide (and automates the update process if using an AUR helper).

Installed extensions can also be configured, enabled or disabled through a GUI with gnome-extensions-app, from the command line with gnome-extensions(1), or from the browser. In your browser, extensions can be installed then activated in the browser by setting the switch in right top right of the screen to ON and clicking Install on the popup window (if the extension in question is not installed). Installed extensions may be seen at, where available updates can be checked.

The gnome-shell-extensions package provides a set of very useful extensions maintained as part of the GNOME project.

extension-managerAUR is a graphical tool which can also be used to install and remove extensions, as well as enable and disable them, both system-wide and for a user. Prior to using it, consider its list of well known issues:

To enable usage of extensions (disabled by default):

$ gsettings set disable-user-extensions false

To list currently enabled extensions:

$ gsettings get enabled-extensions

The above command may list extensions that have been removed. To only list extensions that are enabled and installed, use gnome-extensions instead:

$ gnome-extensions list --enabled

For more information about GNOME shell extensions, see


Note: As of Gnome 42, many default Gnome applications use GTK 4 with libadwaita. These apps do not currently support changing themes through gsettings or gnome-tweaks, the only visual configuration available is through Settings > Appearance. See GTK#Themes for setting a GTK theme other than Adwaita or Adwaita-dark.

GNOME uses Adwaita by default. To apply Adwaita-dark only to GTK 2 applications, use the following symlink:

$ ln -s /usr/share/themes/Adwaita-dark ~/.themes/Adwaita
Note: The Adwaita-dark theme is provided by gnome-themes-extra which may not be installed on a minimal installation of GNOME.

To select new themes (move them to the appropriate directory and) use GNOME Tweaks or the GSettings commands below.

For the GTK theme:

$ gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.interface gtk-theme theme-name

For the icon theme:

$ gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.interface icon-theme theme-name
Note: The window manager theme follows the GTK theme. Using org.gnome.desktop.wm.preferences theme is deprecated and ignored.

See GTK#Themes and Icons#Icon themes.

Titlebar button order

To set the order for the GNOME window manager (Mutter, Metacity):

$ gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.wm.preferences button-layout ':minimize,maximize,close'
Tip: The colon indicates which side of the titlebar the window buttons will appear.
GNOME Shell themes

The theme of GNOME Shell itself is configurable. To use a Shell theme, firstly ensure that you have the gnome-shell-extensions package installed. Then enable the User Themes extension, either through the GNOME Extensions application or through the GNOME Shell Extensions webpage. Shell themes can then be loaded and selected using GNOME Extensions.

There are a number of GNOME Shell themes available in the AUR, many themes do not have the same name format, so instead try searching for the appropriate theme in the AUR. Shell themes can also be downloaded from

AppIndicators/Top bar icons

To enable AppIndicators, which is useful for controlling/monitoring certain applications running in the background, Install gnome-shell-extension-appindicator or gnome-shell-extension-appindicator-gitAUR, restart the GNOME Shell, then enable the AppIndicator extension in the GNOME Extensions application or by running

$ gnome-extensions enable $(gnome-extensions list | grep -m 1 appindicatorsupport)
Shell animation speed

The GNOME shell animation can be sped up, slowed down or disabled. See GNOME/Tips and tricks#Change animation speed.

Shell blur

Blur my Shell is an extension that adds blur effects to the overview screen as well as the shell itself and other apps. Install gnome-shell-extension-blur-my-shellAUR or gnome-shell-extension-blur-my-shell-gitAUR for development updates. This extension is highly customizable, and you may choose to blur certain applications.

Rounded corners

Most GNOME applications have a round appearance only on their top corners, while legacy windows have all four corners sharp. To make all corners of all windows round, install gnome-shell-extension-rounded-window-cornersAUR.

Tip: If a window renders incorrectly, you can blacklist it through the preferences dialog of this extension.
Better Alt-Tab Functionality

The default Alt-Tab in GNOME is very simple and does not show overviews of the selected windows. You can change the Alt-Tab shortcut from "Switch Applications" to "Switch Windows" in Settings to show window overviews.

You can also use Coverflow Alt-Tab. It is an extension that expands the Alt-Tab behavior and adds features to make switching between applications easier while also giving it a better look. Install gnome-shell-extension-coverflow-alt-tab-gitAUR, then you may change the configuration of this extension to your liking.

Note: Super-` provides "Switch windows of an application` by default.


GNOME implements XDG Autostart.

The gnome-tweaks allows managing autostart-entries.

Tip: If the plus sign button in the Tweaks's Startup Applications section is unresponsive, try start the Tweaks from the terminal using the following command: gnome-tweaks. See the following forum thread.
Note: The deprecated gnome-session-properties dialog can be added by installing the gnome-session-propertiesAUR package. This also provides functionality to disable system-wide autostarted applications, something that gnome-tweaks does not allow.


Dash to Dock

To move the dash out of the overview and turn it into a dock to easily launch and switch applications, install gnome-shell-extension-dash-to-dockAUR.

Startup in Overview Mode

Starting from GNOME 40, the desktop will start directly into Overview Mode instead of an empty desktop (like in previous versions). To mimic legacy behaviour, one may install gnome-shell-extension-no-overviewAUR.

Alternatively, you can disable it using gsettings if using gnome-shell-extension-dash-to-dockAUR:

$ gsettings set disable-overview-on-startup true

See the discussion at [4].

Clipboard history

Unlike other desktop environments, GNOME does not have a built-in tool to manage the clipboard history. This can be done however with the help of an extension. Install gnome-shell-extension-clipboard-indicatorAUR.


To display the current weather information in the top panel based on a chosen location, install gnome-shell-extension-openweatherAUR. The weather information is updated in real-time and displays useful data such as conditions, wind speed, pressure, etc...

Sound input/output device selector

The factual accuracy of this article or section is disputed.

Reason: Probably not needed anymore as of Gnome 43 (Discuss in Talk:GNOME)

By default, if you want to change your sound input or output device or change your microphone's volume, you need to open GNOME Control Center and configure these settings from there. To integrate a device selector and a microphone volume slider, install gnome-shell-extension-sound-output-device-chooserAUR or gnome-shell-extension-sound-output-device-chooser-gitAUR. Further configuration can be done after installation.


Tip: If you set the Scaling factor to a value above 1.00, the Accessibility menu will be automatically enabled.

Fonts can be set for Window titles, Interface (applications), Documents and Monospace. See the Fonts tab in the Tweaks for the relevant options.

For hinting, RGBA will likely be desired as this fits most monitors types, and if fonts appear too blocked reduce hinting to Slight or None.

WEBP, thumbnails

Install webp-pixbuf-loader to make GNOME's image viewer (eog) work with WEBP images, and add a thumbnailer which creates thumbnails for WEBP images to display them in GNOME Files.

Input methods

GNOME has integrated support for input methods through IBus. Only ibus and the wanted input method engine (e.g. ibus-libpinyin for Intelligent Pinyin) needed to be installed. After installation, the input method engine can be added as a keyboard layout under Keyboard > Input Sources in GNOME Settings (gnome-control-center).

Keyboard Layout quirks

If you are using an alternative keyboard layout like Neo2 which uses multiple layers/modifiers, you might need to go to Keyboard > Type Special Characters in GNOME Settings (gnome-control-center) and change the Alternate Characters Key away from Right Alt so that it can be used as a native modifier of the keyboard layout. Setting it to e.g. Left Alt prevents Alt+Tab, so be careful what you change it to. Without this change, your left Mod3 key might work, but the right one (AltGr) does not. (As of 2021-05-18)


When you are using a laptop, you might want to alter the following settings controlling behavior when idle, screen lock power button presses and lid close:

$ gsettings set org.gnome.settings-daemon.plugins.power sleep-inactive-ac-timeout 3600
$ gsettings set org.gnome.settings-daemon.plugins.power sleep-inactive-ac-type hibernate
$ gsettings set org.gnome.settings-daemon.plugins.power sleep-inactive-battery-timeout 1800
$ gsettings set org.gnome.settings-daemon.plugins.power sleep-inactive-battery-type hibernate
$ gsettings set org.gnome.settings-daemon.plugins.power power-button-action suspend
$ gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.lockdown disable-lock-screen true

To keep the monitor active when the lid is closed:

$ gsettings set org.gnome.settings-daemon.plugins.xrandr default-monitors-setup do-nothing

GNOME 3.24 deprecated the following settings:

org.gnome.settings-daemon.plugins.power button-hibernate
org.gnome.settings-daemon.plugins.power button-power
org.gnome.settings-daemon.plugins.power button-sleep
org.gnome.settings-daemon.plugins.power button-suspend
org.gnome.settings-daemon.plugins.power critical-battery-action
Do not suspend when laptop lid is closed

The settings panel of GNOME does not provide an option for the user to change the action triggered when the laptop lid is closed. However, gnome-tweaks can override the setting applied by systemd. On the tab General turn off the switch Suspend when laptop lid is closed. The system will then not Suspend to RAM (S3) on lid close.

To change the lid switch action system-wide, ensure that the setting described above is not turned off and edit the systemd settings in /etc/systemd/logind.conf. To turn off suspend on lid close, set HandleLidSwitch=ignore, as described in Power management#ACPI events.

Change critical battery level action

The settings panel does not provide an option for changing the critical battery level action. These settings have been removed from dconf as well. They are now managed by upower. Edit the upower settings in /etc/UPower/UPower.conf. Find these settings and adjust to your needs.

Power modes

Install the power-profiles-daemon optional dependency (of gnome-control-center) for power profiles support. Explicitly starting/enabling the power-profiles-daemon service is unnecessary since gnome-shell and GNOME Settings both request its activation upon launching.

When the service is active, power profiles can be managed through the Power section of GNOME Settings and in the system menu.


The built-in screenshot tool comes without the Screencast option by default. Install the gst-plugin-pipewire optional dependency (of gnome-shell) to enable screen recording.

Use a different window manager

GNOME Shell does not support using a different window manager, however GNOME Flashback provides sessions for Metacity and Compiz. Furthermore, it is possible to define your own custom GNOME sessions which use alternative components.

Under Wayland, replacing GNOME Shell with a different compositor will cause certain sections of gnome-control-center (GNOME Settings) to populate incorrectly. gnome-control-center will work, but since mutter (GNOME Shell) will not be available to provide settings for populating these sections, they will not have an effect or may not populate accurately with your settings. Sections affected are bluetooth, display, and mouse/touchpad to name a few.

See also