How to Disable Automatic Workspaces in GNOME

Disable Dynamic Workspaces Gnome Shell Feature

With distros rolling out releases using the latest versions of GNOME 3, more and more users are coming back to GNOME and finding that it’s much improved since the GNOME project first released it. Performance is better, features around customization and integration are more numerous, and there is nowhere near as many rough edges. However, there are still some major GNOME-isms that can grate on users. A great example is the way that workspaces are managed – GNOME creates and destroys workspaces dynamically, but many users prefer to have a set number of virtual workspaces that don’t change when windows are added. Here we show you how to disable automatic workspaces in GNOME.

Installing The GNOME Tweak Tool

The GNOME Tweak tools is essential for anybody who wants to change the default settings in GNOME, right down to things like setting a dark theme and including minimize/maximize buttons. The GNOME Tweak Tool is in most repos, so you can just use your package manager of choice.

Disable Dynamic Workspaces Gnome Shell Dnf Install

Once it’s installed, you’ll be able to find it in your “Utilities” folder by default.

Disable Dynamic Workspaces Gnome Shell Utilities

Disabling Automatic Workspaces

To disable automatic Workspaces, open the GNOME Tweaks tool and navigate to “Workspaces.”

Disable Dynamic Workspaces Gnome Shell Static Workspaces

At the very top, click on “Static Workspaces.” You should be able to set the number of workspaces you’d like, from four to many more. Then, when you go into your Activities Overview, you’ll see all your workspaces laid out for you.

Disable Dynamic Workspaces Gnome Shell More Workspaces

Other Tweaks

The GNOME Tweak tool has much to offer in addition to setting static workspaces. Some to note are in “Window Titlebars,” where you can add minimize and maximize buttons and also shift the buttons from a Windows-like layout on the right to a macOS-like layout on the left.

Disable Dynamic Workspaces Gnome Shell Window Titlebars

Also, in “Top Bar,” you can turn off the Activities Overview Hot Corner in the upper-left corner of the screen. This is super-helpful if you’re not a hot-corners kind of user.

Disable Dynamic Workspaces Gnome Shell Top Bar

Extensions

Extensions are community-developed additions to GNOME Shell that bring back or add new functionality that users are looking for. I would not hesitate to say that Extensions are one of the primary ways that make GNOME usable for me, as the ones I use are simple but drastically change the workflow of GNOME on my system.

To get started with GNOME Shell Extensions, go to https://extensions.gnome.org and start to look around. If there’s something to install (most distros have extensions on by default, so you should be squared away), the page will tell you how to get that going.

Disable Dynamic Workspaces Gnome Shell Extensions Website

To manage your extensions, I highly recommend the Extensions App. This should be in the repos for most distros, but if you’re using a version of GNOME Shell before 3.36, you can manage it from the Tweaks Tool.

To install the Extensions app, use one of the following commands:

Disable Dynamic Workspaces Gnome Shell Extensions

It’s a much more intuitive interface for managing your extensions than previous iterations, and it’s what’s recommended for managing them.

Now that you know how to disable automatic workspaces in GNOME, make sure to also check out our review of GNOME Shell and how to manage users in Ubuntu.

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John Perkins John Perkins

John is a young technical professional with a passion for educating users on the best ways to use their technology. He holds technical certifications covering topics ranging from computer hardware to cybersecurity to Linux system administration.

One comment

  1. >Extensions are one of the primary ways that make GNOME usable for me, as the ones I use are simple but drastically change the workflow of GNOME on my system.<

    Which is the fundamental problem with Gnome 3, a gui designed to be used on desktops and tablets with only the features that work on both. No window minimize or maximize buttons, apps and that awful launcher that disappear when clicked elsewhere, thick, rounded fonts, etc., you almost need a number of workspaces to get anything done. Then there's the issue of determining what is in each workspace and vertigo from all the flying windows opening and closing. Argh!

    So, yeah, the number of extensions one needs to make Gnome 3 usable is unreal; Tweaks doesn't do much anymore, others are needed. Ridiculous to have to kludge together a desktop.

    Ubuntu, the most installed distro, the one dissatisfied Windows users are ostensibly going to adopt is hobbled by Gnome; I know of no average Windows users who stayed with Ubuntu long.

    I used mimimal Ubuntu for about a year on our test laptop, a 2010 vintage dell, a decent machine then but weak by today's standards. Same as the author, I installed half a dozen extensions to add features and hide others but still having to go through twice as many steps to do anything because of the poor layout got old. Extensions use considerable memory, an OS using 3GB RAM at idle on a laptop that can only take 8GB, doesn't leave much open.

    Eventually I ditched Ubuntu for KDE neon (this is NOT Kubuntu, which is a mess). Got the excellent Plasma desktop, sensible workflow and an OS that uses 700 MB at idle. With Plasma, yay!!!

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