Overview compulsory mode

I believe this topic has been approached too many times, but I still can’t understand why after so many new releases of gnome desktop, it is still obligatory to start the desktop environment in overview mode, unless you install some extensions that counteract that mode, like Dash To Panel or Dash To Dock. It is a little bit irritating this forceful overview mode instead of letting the user chose via a setting that could be configured. Or am I wrong and it is possible to NOT start in overview mode by some kind of configuration? ChatGPT that I just checked now, replied to my question that one should go thru Settings, then Privacy and then Screen Lock, in order to deactivate the automatic overview mode. If this the only way besides installing the extensions I mentioned before, I think it is a kind of weird configuration and all but obvious.

What would you want to open instead of the overview?

I want to start in normal mode as all the other linux desktops start. Because this is a different mode, KDE is now developing a similar overview mode like Gnome but as an option that a user can call at any time. Overview mode is what you see when you start plain default Gnome - a smaller desktop window with the active workspace, other workspaces hidden at the right side of the screen, and a lower dock/panel with some icons to start programs. When you press one of these icons, the overview mode ends immediately and the screen is now in “normal mode”, that is a full screen dedicated to the active workspace. If you don’t know the difference of overview and normal mode, I would suggest you try any other linux desktops like Xfce, Kde, Lxqt, Cinnamon, etc. You can do it with a Live usb flash drive or using a Virtual machine software.

Other desktops have ways to open apps directly from this «normal» mode, GNOME doesn’t. Wouldn’t this just add an extra step to the start of each session?

Gnome with the extensions I mentioned in my first post - Dash to Panel or Dash to Dock - behave just like any other linux desktop and not in overview mode. How difficult is it to do to be the default behaviour? I think the overview mode is a choice of the gnome developers. It is not mine and not of all the other linux desktops.

Yes: most, if not all what you see and use in GNOME is a choice of the GNOME developers, since they are the ones making the desktop. The GNOME developers are not held to allow you to change everything with a configuration option, either. You have the option of using an extension, though.

Asking to have an option to start like every other linux desktop is not to allow to change “everything”. I have developed software for forty years always consulting the final user on what they prefer. Have you conducted a survey to know how the final user prefer how to start the gnome desktop?

This is the quite typical reaction when it comes to coping with change: “how can you do something without asking me?”

In the particular case of the Shell overview design refresh of GNOME 40, though, it so happens that there were user testing studies, and there was a concerted effort to reflect user feedback:

As for “adding an option”, I think you probably want to read one of the foundational texts that has been followed since the days that led to the release of GNOME 2.0, 20 years ago: Choosing our Preferences


What confuses me is you never answered bragefuglseth’s original question: what are you able to do that does not first require opening overview mode?

To the best of my knowledge, you can’t do much anything without opening the overview first, unless you create a custom keyboard shortcut to launch a particular app. Otherwise, launching apps requires opening the overview. So why shouldn’t GNOME start with the overview open? Isn’t that the right choice for almost everyone? What is it you do after starting GNOME that doesn’t require opening the overview first?

If you’re using an extension like dash to panel, then this behavior maybe no longer makes sense, but in that case you should just ask the extension authors to change it.

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To be fair, they clarified that they would like a persistent dock/taskbar in addition to this, so my question was technically answered.

There is no mention in those studies, which I read them thoroughly, about asking the users about the overview mode, which in my view for you it is a consummated fact, period. About “Choosing our Preferences” which I also read, I am the first person to agree against too much settings, that is why I don’t like KDE desktop. But as I mentioned in my previous post, choosing between overview mode or “normal” mode is not a secondary choice, in fact it is a very primary one, and you do have “Settings” that users can change. But we’ll do as you want. There will be no further comments from my side. I wish you well.

Anyway, I consider this complaint invalid since we do not have any use case for what you can do after launching GNOME without first opening the overview.

  • If you are using extensions, why not use an extension to change the behavior to your liking?
  • If you are not using extensions, you’re going to need to open that overview to do anything
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For me overview mode is a kind of preview mode not the actual or what I called “normal” mode. It seems the way gnome desktop was developed and in order to present a panel with icons to start programs, it is required to be in overview mode, because it was designed in that way. What I would like is that gnome desktop, like ANY other linux desktop, start not in preview or overview mode, but in normal mode WITH a panel displayed for the user to start programs, that is what the extensions I mentioned before - Dash to Panel and Dash to Dock - do, I think I was clear and detailed enough to explain my point, I cannot understand why after so many posts this isn’t still clear as water. Linux desktop shouldn’t require the installation of extras aka extensions, to complete the functionalities that the desktop should possess as default. Plus the extension Dash to Panel contains another feature that is standard in KDE desktop, the full screen preview mode of active programs and windows that are minimized, a feature started in 2009 in Microsoft Windows 7 called “aero peek”, while the mentioned extension Dash to Panel was created in 2013.

You want the GNOME desktop to be like other desktops, and not like the GNOME desktop; and you don’t want to use extensions to achieve that goal.

At this point, have you considered that you may be better served by other desktops, instead of GNOME? It’s going to be easier to switch to something else that fits in more with your expectations than it will be to twist GNOME to the same, or convince the GNOME community to change the way they design and develop their project to cater to your specific use.


Why not just logout or shutdown the system after logging in ? It is a valid use case. It doesn’t require opening the overview.

Also, if the "what you can do after launching GNOME without first opening the overview" is 100% valid for all users always ( I assume since it was made a default choice in GNOME ), then the overview should not be dismissed when an “Esc” key is pressed. It should stay until the user has launched an app from it, because the current design assumes that the user will always launch an app from the dock, which is not true. I use keyboard shortcuts for most of my apps. I don’t want to press "Super’ key, see the overview mode, then move my hand from keyboard to the mouse, click an app in dock and open. I just press <key+combination> and app1 opens, another for app2 and so on.

You could argue that current design does support Super+1, Super+2 to launch apps without using mouse. That is my point here too. Since, I can launch the apps in my dock without viewing the Overview, this is another use case as to why Overview should not be presented a default on login. Maybe, some users just use 5 apps in their dock, and they know Super+ <1-5> will launch their apps. They don’t need to see the Overview and press an extra Escape every time during login.

Also, assume that I have opened an app from the dock in Overview mode ( say nautilus ). If that is the only app I have opened, and I have closed it, by the current theory, overview should be presented again to the user, since we can argue “what will the user do after he has closed all programs”. He will surely need the Overview to launch more programs.

My intentions here are not to argue for the “Overview Mode” -or- against the “Overview mode”. Clearly, the overview mode on login has its pros. But, presenting the overview as default for all users is not correct in my opinion. GNOME design team should find a solution for it.


@martago: After so many posts, nobody understands why you want to start in “normal” mode, because you don’t say the reason why you want this or what it would allow you to do. Assuming the session starts in “normal” mode, what is the first thing you would do?

@Sid: It looks like you want to be able to launch your apps with keyboard shortcuts that don’t work in the overview (if not, please clarify). If so, that’s no reason not to display the overview when starting the session. The correct way to handle this would be to make your custom shortcuts work in the overview.

Gnome is my preferred linux desktop in spite of starting in overview mode, which I counteracted by installing Dash to Panel, which also allow full screen previewing of minimized apps. Gnome can do as it pleases, but can you list any other linux desktop that is not Gnome or derived from it that also starts in overview mode? Or all the others are wrong or not as good, because they don’t start in overview mode, a “superior” mode? I have just watched a web site that asked users about their preferred linux desktop among 22 known linux desktops, and the list is not complete. Gnome came in second place in the list of preferences right after KDE. Wouldn’t it be great to be the first user choice?

Now you’re grasping at straws: you cannot possibly know that the reason why a random poll on some random website favoured KDE instead of GNOME is that the former has a dock and does not use an overview by default.

It’s time to lock this thread, because we’re going in circles. You have your answer:

  • the overview at boot is the result of user testing, and of the spatial-oriented redesign of GNOME 40
  • you can go back to “empty desktop by default” by using an extension
  • if you are already using an extension to show the dash as a dock (which is already changing the expected user interaction model of GNOME to something else), then it’s perfectly fine to either add a new extension that disables the overview-at-boot, or to ask the authors of the dash-to-dock extension you’re using to incorporate the extension that disables the overview-at-boot
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