User:RafaelFF/drafts/GNOME/Tips and tricks

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Note: Draft of GNOME/Tips and tricks

See GNOME for the main article.


Turn on NumLock on login

See Activating Numlock on Bootup#GNOME

Hotkey alternatives

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

Change shortcut of the keyboard layout switch

Note: You can switch keyboard layout only when more than on layout is set. See how to set alternative keyboard layouts.

By default, typing Super + Space will switch between keyboard layouts.

Choose one of the following methods to change this shortcut:

  • Open the Activities overview and start typing "Keyboard Shortcuts", click the "Keyboard Shortcuts" to open the panel, and in there search for Switch to next input source and Switch to next input source under Typing section.
  • Open gnome-tweak, navigate to Keyboard & Mouse > Keyboard > Additional Layout Options > Switching to another layout and select the checkbox of the desired shortcut for this action.

See GNOME Help documentation for more info.

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, open gnome-tweaks and navigate to Keyboard & Mouse > Keyboard > Additional Layout Options > Key sequence to kill the X server and select the Ctrl+Alt+Backspace checkbox.

Unbind Super key from Activities overview

By default, pressing the Super key will open the Activities overview. You can unbind this key by running the command below:

$ gsettings set org.gnome.mutter overlay-key new_key

where new_key is the value representing other key, or blank to disable this shortcut.


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


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.

Note: The recording filename may translated depending on your system's language.


gnome-screenshot by default saves the image in the directory of the last save, which you can query:

$ gsettings get org.gnome.gnome-screenshot last-save-directory

Instead of using the above directory, you can set an auto save directory. e.g. for automatically saving screenshots to the user's desktop directory:

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

Check the gnome-screenshot(1) man 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

or via gnome-tweaks, in General tab, switch Animations to off.

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.


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/ 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:

terminal-window {
    padding: 10px 10px 10px 10px;
    -vte-terminal-inner-border: 10px 10px 10px 10px;

Disable blinking cursor

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. || see mkwlppr

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:

[GNOME Session]
Name=GNOME Openbox

And an example desktop file:

[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

This shows how to use Chromium for certain types of URLs while maintaining Firefox as default browser for all other tasks.

Make sure pcre is installed, to use pcregrep.

Setup custom xdg-open:

BROWSER_OPTIONS='' # Optional, for command line options passed to browser

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

    if [[ $matching -eq 1 ]]; then
	exit 0
    exit 0
    "$XDG_OPEN" ${*}

Configure domains for redirect to Chromium:


Setup xdg-open web as desktop application:

[Desktop Entry]
Name=xdg-open web
GenericName=Web Browser
Exec=xdg-open %u
$ update-desktop-database $HOME/.local/share/applications/

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

Prevent GNOME Software from downloading updates

By default gnome-software will download updated packages from the Arch Linux repositories. This forces GNOME Software to refresh the package lists for pacman automatically. This is the equivalent to pacman -Sy. If the user ignores the GNOME software update prompt, but does install a new package, that will result in partial upgrades, which are unsupported. To prevent GNOME Software from refreshing the package lists set the following dconf setting:

$ gsettings set download-updates false

Increase volume above and beyond 100%

Install the extension volume mixer. Then use the mouse to scroll above the volume icon in the top panel to increase the volume above and beyond 100%.

Adjust volume in smaller steps

By default, pressing the keyboard's volume keys adjusts the volume by 6%. If smaller steps are desired, the shortcut Shift + Volume Key Up/Down adjusts volume in 2% steps.

Show volume sound percentage next to top panel icon

Install the extension sound percentage to display the current output volume level next to the sound icon in the top panel.

Hybrid Sleep on laptop lid closing action

Follow below commands to trigger Hybrid Sleep when closing the lid of the laptop. Read here for further information.

   mkdir --parents /etc/systemd/logind.conf.d
   printf '%s\n' '[Login]' 'HandleLidSwitch=hybrid-sleep' >/etc/systemd/logind.conf.d/50-local.conf
   systemctl restart systemd-logind.conf