How to Install GNOME Shell Extensions Easily and Quickly

GNOME Shell extensions are a great way to add functionality to your Linux desktop.

How to Install GNOME Shell Extensions

In this article I will demonstrate you how to easily install GNOME extensions directly from your browser.

GNOME Shell is one of the most widely used desktop environment for Linux. Probably the most standout aspect of GNOME is that it looks nothing like anything you have experienced before.

Going one step further, GNOME has various extensions that offer additional customization options. Once installed, they will help you add extra functionality to your GNOME Shell desktop and help modify existing features.

But before we proceed, let’s ask ourselves, what are shell extensions?

What Are GNOME Shell Extensions?

By default, GNOME Shell has a set of features that are determined by the developers. GNOME Shell extensions are tiny pieces of software code, written by third-party developers, that enhance or add functionality to a GNOME desktop. They adds handy features to the desktop, and so can make life easier by increasing productivity.

Related: 5 Best GNOME Shell Extensions for Your Linux Desktop

How to Install GNOME Shell Extensions

The steps to install GNOME Shell extensions is as easy as it can get. In this article, we will cover these steps.

The easiest way to install GNOME extensions is via your web browser. GNOME project has an official website dedicated to extensions: https://extensions.gnome.org.

You can find, install, and manage your extensions on this website itself right from your browser. However, to control GNOME Shell extensions using web browser, you must install GNOME Shell integration that consists of two parts:

  1. GNOME Shell Integration Extension
  2. Native Host Connector

1. Install the GNOME Shell Integration Extension

Because the GNOME Extensions website uses special plugin functionality, you must access it using the Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome web browser. 

Keep in mind, that Ubuntu 21.10 recently moved to default browser Firefox as Snap. Due to the fact that Snap packages runs in sandbox by design, they do not have access to the underlying desktop environment. This prevents management of GNOME Extensions. But don’t worry, you could just use Google Chrome or even Microsoft Edge.

Related: How to Install Google Chrome on Ubuntu

Open a web browser and go to https://extensions.gnome.org. Hit “Click here to install browser extension“.

GNOME Extensions Website

Clicking the link above will open a new tab in Google Chrome. Hit the “Add to Chrome” button.

Add extension to Google Chrome

You will be asked to confirm that you want to add the extension to Chrome. Click the “Add extension” button.

Add extension to Google Chrome

When the extension has been installed in Chrome, you will see the GNOME footprint icon in the top right of the Chrome toolbar.

GNOME Extension Icon

2. Install Native Host Connector

Installing only the GNOME Shell Integration add-on won’t do the work. You’ll still see an error like shown below:

Missing native host connector error message

This is because you haven’t installed the native host connector yet. So let’s do it. Open a terminal window, then issue the install command:

sudo apt install chrome-gnome-shell

It shouldn’t bother you the chrome prefix in the package name. It has nothing to do with Chrome. The package works with Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, as well with Microsoft Edge.

3. Install a GNOME Extension

Now that you have both the browser extension and native host connector installed you can open the GNOME Extensions website where you can search for, install, and enable your preferred extensions.

Just find an extension you want to install and move the toggle switch to the “ON” position. For example, I’m going to install “Hide Top Bar” extension.

Install a GNOME Extension

When you toggle the switch you are prompted with an install message. Select “Install“.

Install a GNOME Extension

You’re done. The GNOME extension has been installed and ready to use. Use the ON/OFF switch to enable/disable the extension.

Similarly, you can search and install other extensions as well. How much simpler can it be? 

Configure GNOME Shell Extensions

You can see all your installed GNOME extensions on the website under “Installed extensions” section. From here you can configure the extension using the setting option. In addition, you only see a green arrow icon when an update is available.

Manage GNOME Extensions

Alternatively you can also launch the Extensions app from the applications grid to manage them.

GNOME Extensions App Launcher

Click on its gear button to configure, or toggle the switch to enable/disable the extension.

GNOME Extensions App

Now you can enjoy the benefits of the extensible GNOME Shell, with a variety of add-ons of your choice.

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