How to Make GNOME More Like Windows

Get a Windows-like Linux desktop

GNOME logo on a Samsung laptop



In and of itself, GNOME is a fantastic and user-friendly desktop. However, to those new to Linux, it might be a bit too much of a leap to have to not only get used to a completely different operating system, but to also become familiar with such a unique desktop environment.

Fortunately, GNOME has a certain level of flexibility, enough such that you can configure the desktop to look and feel a bit more like Windows. Once you’ve worked with a more Windows-like desktop on Linux for a while, you can always switch back to the default and grow accustomed to what a standard GNOME installation has to offer.

In the meantime, let’s make GNOME look a bit more like Windows.

Version Information

For the purpose of demonstration, we used Ubuntu 19.04 running GNOME 3.32.0.

Installing Dependencies

The first thing to be done is to install the necessary dependencies and a particular icon theme. This is done with the following steps:

  1. Click Show Applications.

    Screenshot of the Show Applications button.
  2. Type terminal and click the terminal launcher.

    Screenshot of the Terminal launcher.
  3. Type the command

    sudo apt-get install gnome-shell-extensions chrome-gnome-shell gnome-tweaks adwaita-icon-theme-full -y
  4. When prompted, type your user password.

  5. Allow the installation to complete.

Next we need to install the Firefox Browser Extension, which allows us to add extension from the web. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Open Firefox and go to

  2. Select Click here to install browser extension.

    Screenshot of the browser extension installation.
  3. Click Allow.

    Screenshot of the Allow button.
  4. Click Add.

    Screenshot of the Add button.
  5. Click OK!.

    Screenshot of the OK! button.
  6. Refresh the GNOME Extension page and you are ready to install extensions.

Installing the Extensions

There are a couple of extensions you want to install. The extensions are:

  • Dash to Panel - an extension that transforms the GNOME Dash to a traditional desktop panel.
  • Arc Menu - an extension that transforms the GNOME Applications Overview into a traditional desktop menu.

To install an extension, follow these steps:

  1. Search for the extension on the GNOME Extensions Site.

  2. Click the extension’s On/Off slider until it’s in the On position.

    Screenshot of the On/Off slider.
  3. When prompted, click Install.

    Screenshot of the Install button.
  4. Allow the installation to complete.

Walk through the above steps for both the Dash To Panel and Arc Menu extensions. Once they’ve been installed, your desktop will be closer to that familiar Windows layout.

Icon Theme

The last thing to take care of is the icon theme. We’ve installed the Adwaita Icon Theme, so let’s apply it. To do that, follow these steps:

  1. Click the newly installed Arc Menu button.

  2. Under Software, click Tweaks.

    Screenshot of the Tweaks entry in the Arc Menu.
  3. Click Appearance and, under the Themes section, select Adwaita for Applications, Cursor, and Icons.

    Screenshot of the themes configuration.
  4. Close the Tweaks tool.

Configure Dash To Panel

We’re going to take care of one last thing. Out of the box, Dash To Panel includes the Applications icon. Since we’ve installed the Arc Menu, we don’t need that icon. Here’s how to get rid of it:

  1. Right-click the Applications icon and click Dash to Panel Settings.

    Screenshot of the Dash to Panel Settings button.
  2. Click Behavior and then click the Show Applications icon ON/OFF slider until it’s in the OFF position.

    Screenshot of the Show Applictions On/Off slider.

Do note that when you disable the Show Applications icon, the only way to get to the Dash to Panel settings is in the Extensions section of the GNOME Tweaks tool.

You can also further configure the Dash To Panel to fit your needs. For instance, if you prefer a more translucent panel, you can enable the Override panel theme background opacity option (from within the Style section of the Dash to Panel settings), and then adjust the opacity settings to taste.

Screenshot of adjusting the panel opacity.

A Windows-like Linux Desktop

And that’s all there is to getting a more Windows-like Linux desktop. Will this make you more productive? That depends on how quickly you adjust to change. If you try the standard GNOME desktop, and find yourself having trouble adjusting, give these tweaks a try and see if they don’t help make your experience a bit more efficient.