Open Source Software

How to increase desktop functionality with GNOME Shell extensions

GNOME extensions can display weather, connect with Skype, and more. Here's how to get them.

How GNOME Shell extensions can extend desktop functionality

Unless you've had your head in the sand over the last few years, you know that the GNOME desktop has made serious progress and has become one of the most stable, reliable, and elegant desktops available. There is one feature that you might not know about. That feature is GNOME Shell extensions. These extensions are to the GNOME desktop what Chrome extensions are to the browser. In other words, they extend the feature set well beyond the default. You'll find extensions for all sorts of interesting features, such as creating a dock or a panel from the dash favorites. You'll find extensions for the taskbar, coverflow, application menus, drop-down terminals, system monitors, sensors, Skype integration, and so much more. Head over to to see the entire list.

Once you find an extension you like, click the ON/OFF button until ON is set. You will then be prompted to install the extension via a popup. There's one last trick you must know about. To actually enable/disable these extensions and to gain access to the extension settings, you must install the GNOME Tweak Tool. Fortunately this can be found in the standard repositories, so open up GNOME Software, search for GNOME Tweak Tool, and click the Install button. Once that completes, you're good to go with GNOME extensions. Find an extension you want to use, install, and configure it to extend your GNOME desktop well beyond the default.

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Image: Jack Wallen
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