How to Enable Appindicator in Gnome Shell

gnome-appindicator-smallOne of the good things about the Unity desktop is the appindicator feature that provides quick access to key parts of your application. For those who are using Ubuntu, but have replaced the Unity desktop with Gnome Shell, one of the frustration is that the appindicator does not work in Gnome Shell. Luckily, with a simple extension, you can now get those appindicator icons to work in Gnome Shell.

Installing Appindicator support

Open a browser and go to the Gnome Extensions page.


Click the “Off” button to “On” to install the extension in Gnome Shell.

Once activated, you should see the appindicator icons in your system tray. (If you can’t see it, they are probably in the message tray which is hidden at the bottom).


I have tried it with several appindicators like Skype, Everpad, Psensor and Dropbox, and they all work fine.

According to the developer, the classicmenu-indicator is not working well. The reported problem was that it takes a long time to load and could cause Gnome Shell to freeze forever. Personally, it works fine for me and I have not experienced any issue (yet). However, your mileage may vary. Use it at your own risk!

Configuring the Appindicator support

If you have not installed Gnome Tweak Tool, install it with the command:

sudo apt-get install gnome-tweak-tool

Open up Gnome Tweak Tool and go to the “Gnome Shell Extension”. Click the Tool icon beside the extension.


In the Options section, you can configure the default position of the appindicator, whether they will appear in the top panel, message tray or hide completely. You can also change the position for individual appindicator.



Appindicators is one of the best feature in Unity Desktop and I am really glad that you can now use it in Gnome Shell too. Most of the appindicators should work in Gnome Shell. If you come across any appindicator that are not working, do let us know in the comments.


Damien Oh started writing tech articles since 2007 and has over 10 years of experience in the tech industry. He is proficient in Windows, Linux, Mac, Android and iOS, and worked as a part time WordPress Developer. He is currently the owner and Editor-in-Chief of Make Tech Easier.

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