Enabling Categories in GNOME 3.8 Shell Application Menu

Update (2014-04-29): I have updated to GNOME 3.12 in Arch, and this method does not work for it. gnome-software is required to group things from GNOME 3.12 onwards. As of now, gnome-software does not exist for Arch, because of pending work required for libalpm.

Update (2014-03-27): GNOME 3.12 is released officially and there is support for adding custom categories in it. This can be done through “Software” – GNOME’s default app management application. As per GNOME 3.12 release notes, go to Software->Installed, select few applications and create a new category to put them in.

Libreoffice-Math (Equation-Editor) icon goes to both “Office” and “Education” in ArchLinux 3.10.

Update (2014-03-18): According to a comment below (by Poulin) you can add ‘chrome-apps’ to the category list to group chrome apps.  I do not use chrome, so cannot test this. However, I found this blog post, which might help you to integrate chrome apps to gnome desktop.

Update (2013-11-29): Two more categories (Universal Access and Education (thanks to Daniel)) added based on user comments.

More categories (wine-wine (thanks to Pillenski), Crossover, Crossover Games (thanks to Enio), Science (thanks to Regs)) added based on user comments.

Update (2013-11-23): One reader (Pillenski) has commented that by using “wine-wine” in the list can enable grouping of wine icons. I have not tried this as I stopped using wine and started using virtual machines.

Update (2013-05-27): More categories added. There is no stray (ungrouped) app icons now. The above change is managed by adding a new category called Others. In 3.8, even though we add a category and the program access icon is added to that list, another copy is still active in the old place. All these are moved to the Others, just to make to look it neat. 😉

Original post

Categories in the gnome-shell dashboard are removed in GNOME 3.8. All application icons are there and you need to know the name of the application to search for the icon in the shell dashboard. This is a half-cooked feature change. The ultimate aim is to provide a custom grouping facility for the user to group applications together, instead of gnome-developers or the application-developers decide which exactly is the category of the application. But the customisation options are missing in GNOME 3.8 and is expected only in GNOME 3.10, which is expected to be released in September 2013. Gnome 3.10 also does not categorise the applications. So the instructions below work for 3.10 as well. The customised categories are expected in GNOME 3.12 to be released in March/April 2014. However, for many users who uses periodic releases (as in Ubuntu/Fedora etc) may stuck with either of theses two versions for some time for sure.

Steps to enable application categories in GNOME-3.8/3.10 Dashboard

I read about enabling these categories in here. There might be more information available on some other website, but the way I brought some categories back is below.

1. You need to add a few entries using the dconf editor from the shell.

gnome-3.8-dconf  2. In the dconf editor, navigate to org.gnome.shell as shown in the figure below.


3. On the right side edit the app-folder-categories. The default is [‘Utilities’, ‘Sundry’]. Edit this line by double clicking it and replace it with this [‘Utilities’, ‘Games’, ‘Sundry’, ‘Office’, ‘Network’, ‘Internet’, ‘Graphics’, ‘Multimedia’, ‘System’, ‘Development’, ‘Accessories’, ‘System Settings’, ‘wine-wine’, ‘Crossover’, ‘Crossover Games’, ‘Science’, ‘Education’, ‘Universal Access’, ‘chrome-apps’, ‘Other’]. Earlier I had posted a smaller list, thanks to all who commented on this post, now you can categorise almost all programs. New screenshots of my gnome-shell with some app-categories are below. All programs now in a category or another. 🙂

gnome-3.8-dashboard gnome-3.8-games-apps gnome-3.8-graphics-apps gnome-3.8-internet-apps



  1. Hi,

    to have LibreOffice Math in a category you have to add Science:

    [‘Utilities’, ‘Games’, ‘Sundry’, ‘Office’, ‘Network’, ‘Internet’, ‘Graphics’, ‘Multimedia’, ‘System’, ‘Development’, ‘Accessories’, ‘System Settings’, ‘Science’, ‘Other’]

    That should be the complete list now.

    Regs Soenke

  2. Thanks a lot. I think I got it, basically you can type any category from Software-center. And seems like Wine is’t in any of the categories, it shows up only if you search for it.

  3. Don’t forget to add ‘CrossOver’ and ‘CrossOver Games’ if you use those. You can easily find other extra entries you might have to add by activating the “Applications Menu” extension.

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    1. I had a look at it in Archlinux. I could create custom category folders, but could not drag application icons into it (there was a lock symbol near all icons). However, I was able to see default categories of each application and created corresponding category folders. The apps were added to that automatically. I hope this might not be the case in supported OSes – Ubuntu and Debian.

      Other than this, there was a pid being tracked in each run and is tried to kill the next time meow is run. I couldn’t track which application had that pid.

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