Move status icons to your GNOME top bar

The GNOME desktop environment comes installed with Fedora Workstation. GNOME hackers have continued to refine it over several years. However, not all third party software providers update their apps accordingly. Some software providers still make use of outdated status bar icons for their apps, for instance. It’s nice to be able to move status icons for these apps to the GNOME top bar. Often these apps are proprietary but popular, including:

  • Google Chrome addons like Hangouts
  • Google Music Manager
  • DropBox
  • Skype

However, there are also free and open source apps with the same issues. These apps haven’t been updated to use newer features when installed in a GNOME environment like Fedora Workstation.

An app that uses these status bar icons appears in a “drawer” at the lower left of the GNOME screen. You can pop open this drawer by moving your mouse to the lower left of the screen to open the drawer.

GNOME status icon drawer

This presents the user with a difficult choice. Should you leave the drawer open, cutting off part of your screen? Or should you close it and miss seeing some indications on icons in the drawer? Fortunately, you don’t have to choose between these options. There’s another solution, the TopIcons Plus extension for GNOME Shell.

The TopIcons Plus extension can move status icons to your GNOME Shell top bar. The icons then appear next to your other standard icons such as network status. Now you can see these status icons without using up screen real estate, or having to remember to open a drawer.

To install the extension, open Firefox and navigate to the TopIcons Plus extension page. Use the On/Off button to install the extension to your personal environment.

GNOME TopIcons Plus extension page

If you have apps installed that use status icons in the drawer, you’ll now see them in the GNOME top bar. You can use the same mouse actions on them as in the drawer.

GNOME top bar with TopIcons Plus extension activated

However, the way these icons use the mouse may not be the same as standard GNOME status icons. Just keep this in mind as you work with them, and understand this is due to the software provider, not GNOME.

Image courtesy of Kaleb Nimz — originally uploaded to Unsplash as Untitled.

Using Software


  1. Osqui

    If it is an usability improvement, why not putting this feature on stock Gnome?

    • Jens Petersen


      It should be the default in my opinion too.
      It is good notifications now appear in the topbar: same should be true for applets, possibly with an option to hide them. (Sure hopefully they will disappear over time.)

    • Jan Niklas Hasse

      Lack of developers.

    • antikythera

      agreed. status icons are far from outdated. every other OS including the smartphones GNOME 3 is trying to ape still use them because they provide very useful right-click menu shortcuts and info (playing track, file transfer progress, weather etc.) in most instances for the running program.

      the problem is GNOME status icons have been tucked away badly like that because someone thinks everyone wants a minimalistic but pretty much useless empty top bar. Having to add back a key usability function by using an extension shouldn’t be necessary, they should already be up there by default and hideable in the floating bar as an alternative option.

    • Apparently this violates Gnome design philosophy or something… My personal opinion is that Gnome devs are still burned from early days of gnome life and are scared to do the right thing and put this functionality in. To make things worst, icon drawer is going away in new versions of Gnome. I still really like Gnome 3 / gnome-shell, but maaan thanks for the extensions and gnome tweak tool.

  2. joel

    Gracias por el post. Tengo una pregunta con respecto a la barra de GNOME SHELL, y es la siguiente; hay alguna manera de utilizar en GNOME la opción menú bar como la de MAC OSX , ya que en KDE se puede utilizar pero en GNOME ne he visto alguna opcion para hacerlo?

    • Adrian

      Hay algunas extensiones para eso. Una muy buena es dash-to-dock

  3. Thanks! I don’t really need them at the top of the screen (hardly ever access any of them). It’s less annoying having them up there than having them slide in from the side whenever I’m trying to do something else in the bottom corner of the screen. This extension should even be in the Fedora repository!

  4. Surprise! StatusIcon in GTK is deprecated, and will be removed completely soon.
    It is already not implemented for Wayland, so you won’t get status icons (even in the bottom panel) under Wayland.

    GTK/Gnome guys consider their notification API as a replacement, but I’m not sure if it can really replace it. Anyway, gnome is going to provide a poor support for background apps… 🙁

    • caius

      Polari works perfectly well as a background app.

      Status icon is deprecated in terms of both protocol and design. FreeDesktop specifications replaced statuc icons with desktop actions.

  5. random user

    Why were status icons removed in the first place?

    • Jan Niklas Hasse

      Due to the way they are implemented, they became a big maintenance burden.

      • random user

        Now returning them with an extension is obviously a way to go.

        • Jan Niklas Hasse


          • random user

            A bit of, yep.

            I had to switch from gnome partially because status icons had been removed.
            In my opinion some of the design decisions made in gnome3 were kind of reckless.

            That was long ago and I haven’t used gnome since. I was a little surprised when I noticed an extension that deals with status icons yesterday. This will definitely make life easier for some of us. Too late for me though, as I have no plans to switch back to gnome.

  6. Sheldon

    Kudos to fedoramagazine. This is very thoughtful and makes my life a little better.

  7. Simon

    Great! I Would like to see this as default for future GNOME releases!

  8. Leslie Satenstein

    Thank you for posting this article about TopIcons Plus.

    Topicons Plus is wonderful extension. I do much work in terminal mode with the command line. You cannot imagine how frustrating it is when that bottom left corner pops out and interferes with my typing. With that pop-out gone, terminal work is again what it should be.

    Please review “Taskbar by zypdr”. This and Topicons Plus are two extensions that are worth their weight in gold. The Taskbar extension is why I continue to promote Gnome 3.20.

  9. Dear all, don’t wait to see better support in Gnome. Actuall, status icon is deprecated in Gnome, and is not available under Wayland (see So, even the current tray is going to die… 🙁
    Gnome folks think that notifications can replace status icon. But, gnome support for ‘background’ applications is going to be even worse…

  10. landim


  11. Claude

    Are you guys really just discovering TopIcons ??

    GNOME is only usuable with extensions.

    A good thing in Fedora 25 is that there is a section dedicated to extensions in Software Center. No need to go to the website.

    A list of extensions I could not live without :

    Battery Status
    Frippery Clock
    Places Status Indicator
    Applications Menu
    Removable Drive Menu
    Steal My Focus
    pixel saver

    • Pdb

      Also in new gnome all extensions are compatible, due to the stable status of the API now they not check for gnome version compatibility. And is great to have them in gnome software too.

      • Akshay Bhadange

        Also in new gnome all extensions are compatible, due to the stable status of the API now they not check for gnome version compatibility. And is great to have them in gnome software too.

    • “Gnome Dropdown Terminal”, oh and some kind of audio switcher too!

  12. Luyten

    pity is everything else in gnome shell is stable and efficient. this was unreasonnable to move status icon in a bad drawer and this is not.fair to.blame applications – this is one of the many reasons why no one wants to write apps for linux

    • Actually Luyten, it is an issue that unfortunately falls to the applications. Maybe you noticed the point I made in the article about mouse actions being unpredictable. For instance, clicks for menus or to quick-open the app behind the icon aren’t consistent between icons. So the experience is very bad for users. Violating design principles like that is a big problem for users and the source of much frustration. The hope, I’m guessing, was that application developers would eventually port their apps to be able to use a better status indicator. In some cases that happened, in others not. But the user interprets all these as environment problems, and blames that environment. So the only rational thing to do is to differentiate somehow. The nice thing is that this extension makes it possible for informed users to change the positioning. As for development, it seems like many development efforts are on the web nowadays, which often puts Linux on more equal footing.

      • Jan Niklas Hasse

        “… would eventually port their apps to be able to use a better status indicator.”

        They did: To libappindicator (Steam, Dropbox, …) developed by Ubuntu. But GNOME Shell doesn’t support it!

      • This is rationalization? Some imaginary clueless user – beginner? This group practically doesn’t exist on Linux, meanwhile Developers, Administrator, Power User, all sort of tinkerers and weirdos are super frustrated, forced to use extensions. Way to go Gnome kater to the imaginary user pissing off you real user base in the process.

        I’m curious, according to Gnome developers, what is the “correct way” of implementing clipboard manager like CopyQ, without using indicator icons?

        • Jan Niklas Hasse

          I’m curious, according to Gnome developers, what is the “correct way” of implementing clipboard manager like CopyQ, without using indicator icons?

          As a Shell extension.

          • As a Shell extension.

            Go figure, let me gues, parhaps this shell extension that is little icon displayed somewhere in the corner near the volume indicator? So practically the same result, but middle finger to multi platform developers…

            • Jan Niklas Hasse

              Yes, exactly 🙁

              At least with you can use Qt to display an indicator on all platforms. Ubuntu will include the extension by default.

              • This is a mess, I don’t know what a good solution is… Integrating icon indicators with notification functionality could work, but notifications are displayed in so ridiculous place, that “normal user” will never find it. There goes “Gnome should be easy to use by beginners” argument, and also it’s one more click.

        • Bill Chatfield

          Good summary of Gnome problems: targeted at an imaginary beginner user, leaving the real Linux users frustrated. In addition, all the potential converts from Windows can’t figure out how to use it either so it turns them away too. It’s a marketing disaster. It is the Windows 8 of the Linux world.

          • Well, this is going too far, Gnome after tweaks id actually really good, but nothing can help Windows 8.

  13. I don’t know why my comments doesn’t appear now. But anyway, this extension will stop working soon: Gnome under Wayland doesn’t support status icons. Only applications running as X11 applications show status icon under Wayland:

  14. Suprise!
    This extension will stop working soon: Gnome under Wayland doesn’t support status icons, and GTK 4 won’t support it at all. Only applications running as X11 applications show status icon under Wayland:

  15. Why my comments doesn’t get published?! 😛

    • Hey Hedayat, comments are manually approved, so a Magazine team member has to manually approve new comments (this helps prevent spam comments on the Magazine). Sometimes there can be a small delay before someone can do this. Thanks for understanding. 🙂

      • Do you also have an automatic spam filter? I commented at least 10 times (and I didn’t see the message saying that my comment is awaiting for moderation), and finally my comment got ‘through’ by changing my email address! 😛
        Thanks anyway.

        • Hi Hedayat! I have no idea why your comments weren’t getting through, but I just discovered a large quantity of comments that haven’t been getting through. If you have issues with this in the future, please reach out to the Magazine team on our mailing list so we can try to fix the problem sooner. Thanks for your patience!

  16. Suprise!
    This extension will stop working soon: Gnome under Wayland doesn’t support status icons, and GTK 4 won’t support it at all. Only applications running as X11 applications show status icon under Wayland

  17. MB

    On the other hand, status applets, application launchers, and app shortcuts were easily added to the Desktop Panel with Gnome2 and the Gnome2-like Spins.

    • antikythera

      Agreed but seemingly it’s far easier to blame the application developers and ‘hope’ they’ll fix it rather than give users the actual freedom of choice. ideally the extension should be installed as standard and possibly a welcome screen displaying how to use GNOME and enable extensions as desired to customise the environment similar to what UbuntuMATE provide.

  18. I’ve using the extension for a while and it’s great because I really dislike the box on the bottom left… but yet, it has some problems with icons, for instance:

    The screenshot is showing the Pidgin and Slack icons too big and I didn’t find an easy way to solve them.

  19. Cornel Panceac

    Thank you Sir! Actually that bottom left hiding thing it’s just bad design, imo.
    Now Skype’s icon lives happily on the top right 🙂

  20. Hello, this drawer has disappeared now, I could see it desappeared.
    Fedora 25.

  21. Chris

    I highly recommend not using or enabling the “TopIcons Plus” gnome-shell extension, because it crashes the whole desktop session for quite many users:

    I also cannot recommend the TopIcons gnome-shell extension since it often makes tray icons disappear.

    Using Firefox will not work any more in Firefox 57 afaik, because support for NPAPI plugins is going away. Epiphany still works.

  22. Neil Darlow

    The GNOME extensions integration has been removed from Firefox in fedora 26 due to the browser extension now having a dependency on a platform-specific messaging bridge component which isn’t packaged in fedora.

    The equivalent functionality does appear to be built into Epiphany (the GNOME web browser) and provides the full functionality for viewing and enabling/disabling your installed shell extensions.

  23. RITESH

    east or west linux is best
    its security is best
    no affraid of what so called wannacry ransomeware
    linux is my best os
    fedora is great
    but it should work to make it faster boot otherwise its the beast of all os

  24. N-Goncharuk

    I had used this extension but it seems to be the reason of Shell crashes so I removed it.

  25. Pavel Roskin

    The story misses an important point. For the Firefox extension to work, a package called “chrome-gnome-shell” should be installed. Yes, the naming is confusing, and the TopIcons Plus page is only adding to the confusion. For Fedora prior to Fedora 26, the “chrome-gnome-shell” should be installed from an unofficial repository, as described at

    • antikythera

      the story was published a long long time ago in a far away galaxy. i’m not sure why the magazine people are re-publishing material from last year but obviously the situation with which extensions work/need another plugin to work will have changed since F25

  26. Leslie Satenstein

    From what has been posted as comments to topicons, it is somewhat obvious to me that Gnome has too many design architects.
    With the pending Fedora 27, adding extensions to gnome will not be supported by the gnome-tweak tool. The familiar link at the bottom of the extension list is gone.

    That is not to say that installed extensions will not be listed or accessable in the gnome-tweak tool.

    I suppose I am in gripe mood, but should not users be asked to vote on gnome changes? Yes, some are improvements, but many improvements are broken and much less functional than the software they replace.
    Newer is not always better than the version it supposedly upgrades.

    • Gnome is often controversial, but I don’t remember the case where developers were so far out of touch with user base. It’s not that app developers are lazy, it’s just this is useful functionality and Gnome doesn’t offer acceptable alternative.

  27. Tony

    should be included as default configuration.

  28. Eduardo Cerqueira

    Thanks for the tip! I prefer having those icons on top than on that hidden as it is by default on F26.

  29. Bill Chatfield

    A boycott should be called against Gnome until they agree to provide the usability that their real users require. They shouldn’t be permitted to ruin the Linux desktop.

    • antikythera

      eh? just use an alternative there are plenty of choices available from the spins page

  30. Strangiato

    Touch input on icons shown by topicons plus does not work.

  31. Claude

    Gnome decided that the top panel will be transparent in 3.26

    It will be “fun” to see how the icons will look with TopIcons on a transparent panel…

  32. Random User

    Kinda outdated article.

    First thing – gnome droping legacy tray support in 3.26. Dont know about all apps, but qbittorrent no longer works as background application, you just cant enable “show qbittorrent in notification area” – you need to always have it open to make it work. Even with Topicons extension you cant see tray indicator.

    Second thing – as Pavel Roskin said to install extension from firefox you need some third-party package from copr repos. Why do you want bother people with that, if they can easily install extensions from gnome-software now?

    Please update the article.

  33. Random User

    I was wrong in my earlier comment, thanks to fmuellner from gnome team, who already provide patches for topicons plus extension. Qbittorrent now works fine in background state, with icon in top tray. If you expirience the same issue – note, that you need to install git-version of topicons plus extension, the one at gnome extension site not yet updated.

  34. Massimo

    this is not the right place to put this comment, but I cannot figure out how can I fix it even if I search on the web several times.
    The pop-up that appears as notification on the top right corner has black font and dark background, so useless.
    Have you idea where can I set the background color?
    Thanks and sorry for bothering you.

    • antikythera

      that’s GTK theme related and it’s obviously a bug in whichever theme you are using currently.

      • Massimo

        Thanks. It’s the default one: Adwaita.
        Looking at internet does not help me much, I try to sumbit a bug.

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