Getting the Top Indicator Panel Back in GNOME

Like many other things, GNOME removed the applet indicator feature which is essential for tools like Cloud services, clipboards etc. Here's how to get it back.
Warp Terminal

GNOME is the popular desktop environment that thrives to give Linux a modern desktop experience.

While it works for the most part, some of their decisions has left the user fuming and questioning.

You cannot have icons and files on the desktop, new document option has been removed from the right click context menu. In addition to that, GNOME has also removed the applet indicator functionality.

You know what indicator applets are, donโ€™t you? Those little icons that let you access additional features of the given application. I have plenty of them in my Ubuntu system.

indicator applet linux
Indicator applets are quite handy for quick access

And this creates a problem, specially for applications that rely completely on these applet indicators to function. Take Dropbox for example. The only way to access Dropbox settings is through the app-indicator and you wonโ€™t find it in GNOME.

Thatโ€™s a problem, but thankfully, there is a workaround for that.

Enabling applet indicator in GNOME via extensions

If you are using GNOME, you probably already know what GNOME Extensions are. These are basically small add-ons developed by enthusiastic, independent developers.

If not done already, enable GNOME extensions. Itโ€™s actually quite simple. Go to any GNOME extensionโ€™s page using Firefox or Chrome and it will suggest downloading a browser extension. Install it and you are good to go.

installing gnome extension add on
Enabling GNOME Extension browser add-on

Now, there are several GNOME extensions available that allow adding applet indicators in the top panel. At the time of writing this tutorial, AppIndicator and KStatusNotifierItem Support extension is well developed and supported for the recent GNOME versions.

Go to its webpage:

On the page, you should see a toggle button. Click it to install it.

appindicator extension

There will be a pop-up. Hit install when you see it.

installing appindicator extension
Install the extension

The results may be seen immediately. If you have any applications installed that provides an indicator applet, you should see it on the top panel.

If that's not the case, youโ€™ll have to restart GNOME. On Xorg, you could just use Alt+F2 and enter r but that does not work in Wayland.

Log out of the system and log back in. Applet indicator should be activated now.

In my case, I had Dropbox already installed and hence it started showing the icon in the top panel.

Dropbox indicator working in GNOME
Dropbox indicator working in GNOME

I hope this little tip help you gain access to the app indicators in the top panel of GNOME again.

More on GNOME tweaking

There is another extension that provides similar features. You may try that as well if you want.

Tray Icons: Reloaded - GNOME Shell Extensions

If you want some more GNOME customization, try this:

Customizing GNOME with Just Perfection Extension
Add new customization aspects to your Linux desktop with Just Perfection GNOME Extension.

I do not know why the GNOME developers though that dropping this essential feature was a good idea. Anyway, if one door closes, another opens (usually). Enjoy GNOME to your liking.

About the author
Abhishek Prakash

Abhishek Prakash

Created It's FOSS 11 years ago to share my Linux adventures. Have a Master's degree in Engineering and years of IT industry experience. Huge fan of Agatha Christie detective mysteries ๐Ÿ•ต๏ธโ€โ™‚๏ธ

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