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A Small Unity Feature Missing in GNOME Shell [Video]

The Ubuntu 17.10 desktop

The Ubuntu 17.10 desktop

A world of change is headed to Ubuntu as the distro switches from Unity to GNOME Shell.

Long time Unity users accustomed to the workflow, feature set and quirks of Ubuntu’s incumbent releases will need to adapt to different ways of doing familiar things in its upcoming ones.

Thankfully there’s no major interaction gulf between Unity and GNOME Shell (it is, by and large, similar enough). But many smaller, less pronounced differences exist between the pair, differences only evident to a small number of users.

One of our readers, David, mailed in to tell us about one such difference, having learnt that a feature he’s grown used to using in Unity is absent in GNOME Shell.

“I’ve noticed a small detail in Unity (and missing in Gnome) in which you can invoke menu items with a single click (click and hold, travel through the menu, then release in which option you want to activate), something you can’t actually do in Gnome,” he says.

Not quite sure of the exact behaviour David is describing? He helpfully made this short video to demonstrate the “click, hold, release” behaviour as it is in Unity and as it isn’t in GNOME Shell:

Yeah, I know: far from a major release blocker, right? But as niche use-case as this specific behaviour is, it should server a reminder that subtle differences and missing features between the old and the new will only become apparent as and when users start using GNOME Shell full time.

Which is why it’s really good to help test things.

In this instance one imagines that GNOME developers have thought about adding this one-press menu seeking behaviour — it’s also present in macOS — but consider it at odds with their own design and interaction goals, or are yet to implement it.

Since GNOME is pretty extensible by design so we may see someone develop a gnome extension to replicate this behaviour in the mean time.