Learn how you to install GNOME extensions on the Ubuntu 20.04 LTS desktop in this step by step guide, which comes illustrated with plenty of screenshots to help you follow along.

Easily add new features to your Ubuntu desktop using GNOME Shell extensions

Like browser add-ons, GNOME Shell extensions give you safe and easy way to extend, adjust or reshape the GNOME Shell experience to suit your own needs.

This can be as simple as adding a weather forecast to the top bar through to more dramatic changes, like combining the top bar and the Ubuntu dock into a single panel stripped across the bottom of your screen.

Whatever task you have in mind there’s probably a GNOME Shell extension that can do it.

In this guide we show you how to install GNOME extensions on Ubuntu by installing the GNOME Shell host connector, the GNOME Shell integration extension for Firefox or Google Chrome, and how they work together to let you enable extensions quickly and easily using the GNOME Extensions website.

Install GNOME Extensions on Ubuntu

Although this tutorial is titled ‘how to install GNOME Extensions on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS’ you may want to know that these steps also work on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS through to Ubuntu 20.10, the latest short-term release.

To follow along you need Firefox or Chrome/ium web browser; a working internet connection; and access to the Ubuntu Software app (or the Terminal app if you prefer to do things CLI).

Once everything is set-up you will be able to use the GNOME extensions website to not only enable GNOME extensions but also manage them too.

Step 1: Install the Browser Add-on

First step: install the GNOME Shell integration extension in your preferred web browser. This free, open source extension is available for Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome (as well as Chromium-based browsers like Vivaldi and Microsoft Edge).

To get it, just visit the respective add-ons store for your browser and follow the prompts:

Get the extension for Google Chrome

Get the extension for Mozilla Firefox

Step 2: Install ‘Chrome GNOME Shell’ package

Once the GNOME Shell integration extension is installed in your chosen browser the next step is to install the native connector package on Ubuntu.

You can install the chrome-gnome-shell package — despite the ‘chrome’ in the package name it works with Firefox too — from Ubuntu Software:

Click to install ‘chrome-gnome-shell’ on Ubuntu

You can also install chrome-gnome-shell on Ubuntu from the command line using the following command:

sudo apt install chrome-gnome-shell

As this is an “invisible” package you won’t get an app shortcut for it.

If you do not install the connector package you will see an “although gnome shell integration extension is running, native host connector is not detected” error when you visit the GNOME Extensions website.

Step 3: Install Extensions

With both the host connector and the browser extension(s) installed all that’s left is to restart your browser to make sure that all of the changes take effect.

Then head to the GNOME extensions website in your browser and click on any extension you see. You will see an “on/off” toggle displayed on extension listings:

gnome-extensions-install-button

Slide the toggle to the ‘on’ position to install the extension on your desktop. You’ll see an on-screen modal dialog asking you to confirm:

<screenshot of that jpg>

Accept, and the extension will download, unpack, and install on your system.

Managing GNOME Extensions is Easy Too

gnome shell firefox screenshot

You can remove GNOME extensions, access extension settings, and update GNOME extensions from the GNOME Extensions website too.

Just head to the extensions.gnome.org/local page to see a list of installed extensions with the following options available: –

  • To disable a GNOME extension slide its toggle to ‘off’
  • To remove a GNOME extension click the red ‘x’ icon
  • To update a GNOME extension click the green arrow icon

Note: you won’t see a ‘green arrow icon’ if no update is available.

If you’re on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS then you may prefer to manage your GNOME extensions using the new extension manager tool. You can install this from Ubuntu Software:

Install GNOME Extensions Manager App

Then, launch the app from the applications grid to start tweaking.

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