GNOME Shell extensions

Ankur Sinha, Fedora Documentation Team Version F38 Last review: 2023-08-04

From the website:

"GNOME Shell extensions are small pieces of code written by third party developers that modify the way GNOME works. (If you are familiar with Chrome Extensions or Firefox Addons, GNOME Shell extensions are similar to them.)

Since extensions are created outside of the normal GNOME design and development process, they are supported by their authors, rather than by the GNOME community. Some features first implemented as extensions might find their way into future versions of GNOME."

So, please report bugs in these extensions directly to their developers.

Extensions can either be local or system-wide. Local extensions are ones installed by each user in their home directories (~/.local/share/gnome-shell/extensions), whereas system-wide extensions are installed by administrators in system directories (/usr/share/gnome-shell/extensions/). System extensions, therefore, cannot be installed, updated or removed by non-administrator users. They can, however, be enabled or disabled by each user.

In the event of crashes with GNOME shell, the first recommended step to diagnosing the issue is to disable all extensions. In cases where GNOME Shell crashes directly on login, you can use a different desktop environment if it is installed, or use the command line tools listed below using a virtual terminal (ctrl + alt + f2) to disable them.

Installing and removing system-wide GNOME Shell extensions

These are generally provided in the Fedora repositories and can be installed, removed, and updated using the default package management tools like dnf. You can find a list here by searching the packages application for gnome-shell-extension.

Run dconf to update the system dconf databases, making the newly installed system-wide extensions available to all users. # dconf update

Installing and removing local GNOME Shell extensions

Local GNOME Shell extensions can be installed in multiple ways.

  • Directly from the website using Firefox. This requires the installation of a browser extension. If it is not installed, the website displays a notification with a link that installs it.

  • Manual installation. This is not recommended. Advanced users that would like to do so should follow the instructions provided by the developers.

These can all be used to update installed local extensions also.

Enabling, disabling and changing settings for GNOME Shell extensions

All extensions can be enabled, disabled, and their preferences modified by each user using:

  • Gnome’s Extensions website using Firefox.

  • gnome-shell-extension-tool. While this tool allows you to enable and disable extensions, it does not allow you to modify their settings. It does allow you to reload an extension without logging out and back in and it also creates the default skeleton if you would like to write a new extension. Please use gnome-shell-extension-tool -h to learn more.

  • the GNOME Extensions app. Apart from other customisations, GNOME Extensions also allows enabling, disabling, and modifying preferences for GNOME shell extensions.