How to Use Gnome Shell Extensions

Extending the features of GNOME is easier than you thought

GNOME is a user-friendly and efficient desktop. The addition of extensions makes GNOME even more efficient and productive. GNOME Shell extensions are installable applications that extend the feature set of the desktop.

Shell Extensions only work with GNOME 3.0 and newer and with the GNOME Shell desktop. Most modern Linux distributions that use GNOME come with GNOME Shell, including Ubuntu, Debian, and Fedora.

What are GNOME Shell Extensions?

GNOME Shell, one of many Linux desktops, provides the core user interface for GNOME. It's how you interact with applications (such as LibreOffice) and services (such as printing).

By default, GNOME Shell has a set of features that are determined by the developers. However, with the addition of GNOME Shell extensions, it's possible to go beyond the default feature set. GNOME Shell extensions are pieces of code, written by third-party developers, that modify the way the GNOME desktop works and add small features which improve the useability of GNOME.

With GNOME Shell Extensions, you can add an elegant (and efficient) dock to the desktop, a powerful clipboard, a desktop menu (for easier app launching), and more. Before you dive too deep into any list of possible extensions, find out how to install and use these handy tools.

Enable GNOME Extensions Through Your Browser

The installation of GNOME extensions is straightforward. However, before you install extensions, take care of a couple of dependencies. Here's how:

  1. Open a terminal window, then issue the install command.

    For Fedora, enter:

    sudo dnf install chrome-gnome-shell

    For Ubuntu, enter:

    sudo apt install chrome-gnome-shell

  2. Open a web browser and go to the browser extension installer page. When prompted, select Allow.

    Allow button in GNOME shell extensions
  3. When prompted, select Add.

    Add button in GNOME Shell Integration
  4. Restart the web browser, and you're ready to install a GNOME Shell extension.

Install a GNOME Extension

GNOME Shell extensions are installed from the official GNOME Extensions page. You don't have to issue commands (outside of installing dependencies) or search for extensions in the distribution's app store. Also, the process to install GNOME Shell extensions is the same, regardless of what version of Linux you use (so long as GNOME Shell is the desktop).

To install an extension, open a web browser and go to the GNOME Extensions page. Once there:

  1. Search for an extension you want to install. To select an extension, move the toggle switch to the On position.

    On/Off switch in a GNOME extension
  2. When prompted, select Install.

    Install button for a GNOME extension
  3. Allow the installation to complete.

  4. Your extension is ready to use.

Configure GNOME Shell Extensions

Some extensions include configuration options. To configure an extension, refresh the browser page (select Refresh on the browser toolbar, or press the F5 key on the keyboard). A new configuration button appears next to the toggle switch. Click that button to display the configuration options for the extension.

Not every extension offers configuration options. If you refresh the extension browser page, and you don't see the configuration button, the extension doesn't include options.

Disable and Delete Extensions

Disabling and deleting an extension is as easy as installing one. Disabling an extension leaves the extension installed, but disables it so that it doesn't appear on the desktop. Deleting an extension uninstalls it from the desktop.

Here's how to do each:

  • To disable an extension, return to the web page of the extension and move the toggle switch to the OFF position.
  • To delete an extension, return to the web page of the extension and click the X in the red box. You aren't prompted for the removal; it is uninstalled automatically.