How to Get a Windows-Style GNOME Taskbar

With a simple addition, GNOME can look more like Windows

Jack Wallen


Did you migrate from Windows to Linux? If that’s the case, do you wish you could get a more Windows-looking desktop, to make you feel more at home as you work? This is, after all, Linux you are now using, so customization is the name of the game.

However, since the advent of GNOME Shell (another name for GNOME 3), the extent to which the desktop can be customized isn’t quite what it used to be. At least, not without the help of extensions.

Thankfully, the GNOME developers have allowed for third-party entities to help make the GNOME desktop environment a much more flexible space for which to work. Because of that, you can get that Windows-like taskbar at the bottom of your desktop. There are two extensions that make this possible:

  • Dash to Dock
  • Dash to Panel

Although you can make this work with both, using Dash to Dock requires a bit of configuration and doesn’t allow for the addition of the system tray to this pseudo taskbar. The second extension, Dash to Panel, not only allows you to get the panel you desire, but also disables the top bar and moves the system tray where you expect it (at the far right corner of the panel). Either way, you will wind up with a more familiar and (therefore) more efficient environment in which to work. However, we’re going to use Dash to Panel to make this even easier.

How do you make that happen? Easy. Let’s find out.

GNOME Version

For our testing, we used the Fedora distribution (version 29) with GNOME 3.30.5. This process will work on most GNOME-based distributions, with the exception of Ubuntu, which already has its own panel.

Enabling Extensions

The first thing to be done is the enabling of extensions, via the web browser. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Firefox web browser.

  2. Point the browser to the GNOME Shell Extension site.

  3. Click Click here to install browser extension.

    Screenshot of enabling extension installation in Firefox.
  4. When prompted, click Allow.

    Screenshot of allowing the installation to continue.
  5. Click Add.

    Screenshot of giving permission to Firefox for GNOME Shell integration.
  6. Click OK!.

    Screenshot of finalizing the installation.
  7. You're now ready to install extensions.

With extension installation enabled through Firefox, install Dash to Panel with the following steps:

  1. From the GNOME Shell Extension page, search for Dash to Panel.

  2. On the Dash to Panel page, click the On/Off slider until it’s in the On position.

    Screenshot of enabling the Dash to Panel extension.
  3. When prompted, click Install.

    Screenshot of the install prompt.
  4. The panel should automatically appear at the bottom of the page.

Configuring the Panel

At this point, you should see the new panel at the bottom of the desktop, ready to be used.

You could end it there, but you might want to configure the panel to better suit your needs. If you refresh the Dash to Panel webpage (using the Firefox browser refresh button), the Configuration options button will appear.

Click the Options button to reveal the Dash to Panel options window.

Screenshot of the configuration button.

From the Options window, you can customize the Dash to Panel extension with the following possibilities:

  • Panel (aka taskbar) and clock position
  • Which monitor to display the panel (if you’re using multiple monitors)
  • Autohide (to hide the panel when it’s not being used)
  • Icon size
  • Opacity
  • Panel background color
  • Enable/disable favorite applications
  • Show/hide Activities button
  • Show Desktop button
  • Show AppMenu button
  • Tray font size
  • Enable/disable animations
  • And much more

After making a change, you don’t have to slick a Save button, as the changes are saved on the fly.

GNOME Tweaks

You don’t always have to open the web browser to reach the Dash to Panel configuration options. Instead, the better method is to install the GNOME Tweaks tool. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Open the GNOME Software tool.

  2. Search for tweaks.

  3. Click GNOME Tweaks.

    Screenshot of the GNOME Tweaks listing in GNOME Software.
  4. Click Install.

    Screenshot of installing GNOME Tweaks.
  5. If prompted, type your user’s sudo password.

Once installed, you can start GNOME Tweaks and click Extensions.

Screenshot of Dash to Panel entry in GNOME Tweaks > Extensions.

From the Extensions tab, you’ll find Dash to Panel listed. Click the gear icon to reveal the same configuration page as you opened from within the Dash to Panel page in Firefox.

Enjoy the Panel

You now have a Windows-like taskbar on your GNOME desktop, thanks to the Dash to Panel extension. This should go a long way to making the GNOME desktop environment feel a bit more familiar.