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Enable Media Player Controls in System Tray in Ubuntu [Quick Tip]

GNOME desktop doesn’t include the media player controls in the system tray menu. Here’s how to get it back in Ubuntu and other distributions using the GNOME desktop environment.

Rhythmbox is a nice application with all the necessary features you would expect in a standard music player. It is the default music player in a number of Linux distributions for a reason.

One ‘feature’ of Rhythmbox is that when you click the close button while playing a music file, it doesn’t really close the application. The player simply ‘disappears’ from your screen but the music would still be played in the background.

In Unity and some other desktop environments, you can access the minimized Rhythmbox player from the audio menu in the top system tray.

But that doesn’t happen anymore starting with Ubuntu 18.04 or should I say it doesn’t happen in GNOME desktop environment. You won’t find it in the system tray.

Don’t worry. It’s not disappeared completely. The minimized player stays in the notification area in the GNOME desktop. You can still control it with media keys on your keyboard.

Audio control is in the notification area in Ubuntu GNOME
Media Player Controls are in Notification Area

If you take my advice, I would suggest you should get used to the way GNOME works. But if you really want to get the media player controls back in the system tray, you could do that. Let me show you that.

Enable media player indicator in system tray in Ubuntu

I guess you are familiar with GNOME extensions. These are tiny plugins that extend the capabilities of the GNOME desktop.

To enable the media player controls in the system tray, you can use such a GNOME extension called Media Player Indicator.

You can find this extension on GNOME extension website or simply search for Media Player Indicator in the Software Center and install it from there.

Media Player Indicator GNOME Extension

I am guessing that you should enable GNOME Extensions as well.

Once you have installed it, you can see that media player controls are now visible in the system tray.

Media Player Indicator GNOME Extension puts media player controls back in the system tray

The good thing about the Media Player Indicator is that it provides you some configuration options as well to further customize the location and behavior of the media player controls.

Configuration option for Media Player Indicator in GNOME
Configuration option for Media Player Indicator

You can even use the settings to remove the media player controls from the notification area.

If you want to remove the Media Player Indicator, simply go to the Software Center, search for it and click on remove. It will be removed immediately.

What do you think?

I tested it quickly and found it a handy plugin for people who like the media controls in the system tray. However, I shall stick to the default GNOME behavior because keeping the media controls in the system tray doesn’t really add any value, in my opinion.

How about you? Will you use this indicator and put the media player controls back in the system tray or will you stick with the notification area? 

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  • I’m on ubuntu 20.04, and this works by default, but it doesn’t seem to be using this extension.
    I am actually wondering if it’s possible to disable it. I personally couldn’t find any way of doing it.

  • Not sure if it’s even worth writing an article about. People out there use a broad multitude of generally better desktop environments (in regards of customization) like i3, AwesomeWM, StumpWM or XMonad, each with their own benefits. I’d personally read something on these guys, since GNOME, eh… Considering a minor GNOME plugin to be worthy of its own article is basically like laughing at memes at Facebook. Neither it gives your readers any insight, nor it gives it to you. No learning involved, no actual thinking, just an article about a third-party plugin that moves the music player from the status bar to the system tray. Oh, why does GN even show this to me?

    • Actually, it helped me. From last 7 days none of the extension ( MPRIS controller) worked for me, i think are not compatible with latest version. So I was in search for similar extension, I came to this article ( I was just browsing their latest posts ). It finally fixed my problem.

      May be it doesn’t add value to readers like you ( everyone is not expert ) but there are billion people out there( noobs like me ) , each have different interest & needs, so sharing knowledge is worth. It fits untill they are sharing FOSS related topics ( not Windows or MACs )

      Ps: Ignore my poor english

      Thanks :)