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How to use Material Shell in Gnome on Linux

Material Shell is a modern desktop interface for the Gnome Desktop environment. It is designed to bring order to your Linux desktop by introducing automatic tiling and superior program management. In this guide, we’ll show you how to install Material Shell and how to use it too. 

Installing Material Shell

Material Shell is an overhaul for Gnome. However, you cannot start using it without first installing it. There are many different ways to install Material Shell on Linux. 

In this section of the guide, we’ll go over the many ways to install Material Shell on your Linux PC. To start the installation process, open up a terminal window and follow along with the step-by-step instructions that correspond with the Linux OS you currently use.


On Fedora Linux, the Material Shell Gnome Extension is in the official Fedora Linux software repositories. If you want to install Material Shell in this way, open up a terminal window and use the following dnf install command below.

sudo dnf install gnome-shell-extension-material-shell

If you have trouble setting up Material Shell through the Fedora software repositories, keep in mind that it is also possible to install it via source code or the Gnome Extension Store.

Arch Linux

Arch Linux users can install the Material Shell extension on their computer through the Arch Linux User repository. To install Material Shell in this way, open up a terminal window and execute the following commands in succession.

sudo pacman -S git base-devel

git clone https://aur.archlinux.org/trizen.git

cd trizen

makepkg -sri
trizen -S gnome-shell-extension-material-shell-git

Keep in mind that if the installation of Material Shell on your Arch Linux PC through the AUR doesn’t go well, there are other ways of installing it, such as the source code method or the Gnome Extension Store.

Gnome Extension Store

The way most Gnome Shell users will be able to get access to Material Shell is by installing it through the Gnome Extension Store. The reason? It’s compatible with any Linux distribution running Gnome. 

To start the installation of Material Shell, you will need to install the “chrome-gnome-shell” package, as well as the Gnome browser extension. Setting up these two things allow you to interact with the extension website. For more information, please follow this guide here.

After setting up the “chrome-gnome-shell” package and the Gnome Browser extension, it is time to install the Material Shell browser extension. Click on this link here to head over to the Material Shell extension page.

Once on the Material Shell extension page, find the ON/OFF slider, and click on it with the mouse. When the slider is clicked, a pop-up window will appear. In this pop-up window, select “INSTALL” to install Material Shell on your Linux PC.

Source code

Another way to install the Material Shell is via the source code. To start the installation, ensure you have the “git” package installed. Then, execute the command below.

git clone https://github.com/material-shell/material-shell.git ~/.local/share/gnome-shell/extensions/material-shell@papyelgringo

Use Material Shell

Material Shell is a lot different from other user interfaces on the Linux platform. As a result, it isn’t very easy to understand if you’ve never used it before. Follow along below to learn all about how to use Material Shell on Linux.

Opening/closing apps

App management in Material Shell is fascinating and unique. Instead of giving users an app shortcut on the desktop or a menu to look through, they’re presented with a search tool that they can use to open any app installed on their PC. 

To open up an app in Material Shell on your PC, do the following. First, locate the “+” sign in the top panel, and click on it. Upon clicking on the “+” sign, a search box will appear. Use this box to browse for the app you want to launch and click on it.

To close any open app in Material Shell, locate the X button on the app’s name in the panel and click on it to close it. 

Switching tile view

The heart of Material Shell is tiling window management. Here’s how to use it. First, open up one or more apps in the Material Shell by clicking on the “+” sign in the top panel. Once all of the apps are open, click on the tiling icon on the end of the top panel.

By selecting the tiling icon in the panel, Material Shell will automatically adjust your apps tiling layout. To change layouts, keep clicking on the icon.

Accessing notifications

Material Shell reworks the way Gnome displays notifications. No longer is your notification area in the middle of the top panel. Instead, it is on the bottom left. 

To access your notifications in Material Shell, click on the clock in the bottom left panel. Upon clicking on the clock, your notifications will appear.

Switching windows

Switching windows in Material Shell is done with the top panel. To swap through any window, click on the app name in the top panel.


Material Shell moves where the control buttons are in Gnome. To access volume control, networking, etc., select the volume icon in the bottom left panel. Once you do, the control buttons for the desktop will appear.

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