Activities menu and Show All Applications button. Discussion Thread


Since I’ve seen here and there discussions about this and i think this is something important for the work flow of what Ubuntu will be in the future i thought of making this thread.

In my opinion the applications button on the the dock is redundant and it should be included inside the activities menu.

The dock should be just for your favorite applications. If you need to open an application that you use not that often or adding a new applications to dock, pressing the super button and typing doesn’t seem that much of a hassle.

In the future it would be nice if there was a way to show all available apps on the activities menu. Something like when gnome didn’t have the show all applications button on the dock. I think this is more like the Gnome work flow where everything passes through the activities menu.

What do you guys think?


I think that the activities and applications menu are different pages.You can press ‘super’ key to look up all active apps,or you can press ‘super+A’ to show all applications.If they mix to one page,the content isn’t clear or efficient.You can set the applications button status through the dash to dock item in ‘dconf’ at ‘show-show-apps-button’ for on and off.


Thanks for your reply.

If you try default Gnome you will see that the application button is only present when you press the activities menu.

I don’t think you need to use the application menu that often since all your most used applications are on the dock anyways and people that use it will end up using the search since is faster than show all the applications and see where the icon is and then click it.

In my opinion the application icon is taking one space on the dock that should either be empty or for the Trash, but i understand that now the second option must be not doable.

To be clear, what i think the right way should be (with a new design of course) is the following image:

If you see there is a button that acts like the application menu, but is inside the activities menu and not on the dock. This way you would have a cleaner desktop and everything would be in one place.

thanks for your reply.

I see that you want a ‘unity7’ style dock,don’t you? You want to replace the applications menu by a trash icon,and make a unified page and two tags for them(active apps window and applications menu).That’s a good idea.But for more newcomers, the applications icon is a quick entrance for list all applications until he or she has knowledge of ‘super+A’ hotkey.

maybe like this:

by the way,I expect the HUD and Global Menu(When it turns to a simplified menu on ‘gnome3’) comes back much.


That looks to be how gnome use to do it very early in its development


Yes that’s exactly it. Thanks.

Since the right side is for workspaces, when you selected applications instead of active (the default selected when you enter the activities menu), a similar selector would appear beneath the search bar with the frequent/all selector.

For newcomers, an overlay like the one that appeared the first time that you booted (like with unity with the shortcuts) after a fresh installation to tell people: Hey, the activities menu is your friend and other informations.

Hey @Jigen ,
I agree 100% with your sentiment. Your right that there is a problem having both an Activities button AND an Applications button and I agree that perhaps the solution is that they should be combined. However, I strongly dislike the word “Activities” as it is very vague and should probably currently say “View” or “Overview” AND I find it very confusing that the word “Activities” is right on top of the dock as if it is somehow the name of the dock area. I was thinking originally it would be great if an Ubuntu or Gnome icon would the place of the word “Activities” and clicking on it leading to a combined Activities-Applications area?, but Ubuntu officially rejected the idea of replacing the word “Activities” with an Ubuntu icon because the word appears in official GNOME documentation. I feel like the way around this would be to put an Ubuntu icon to the left of the word “Activities” and then it would work the same way: clicking on it would lead to a combined activities-applications as you described above.

I’m not having any issues with the show apps and the activity in the same location.

Maybe we just need to make it more obvious ‘activities’ is a clickable button.


I like the way that your desktop look, but the problem still remains.

I think that the Gnome default icon or the Ubuntu icon doesn’t make a good jot at telling people that this is the place to get more apps than the ones in the dock.

If there was an applications icon with a plus sign on the botton of the dock that would make thing more obvious.

Great idea! Not only does it solve the problem by associating it with other buttons on the top panel, it is such a small change that I think Canonical might go for it. I think we should move this over to the Communitheme thread. Would you mind posting your design there?

It maybe not obvious straight away but once you learn the basics it becomes fairly intuitive in my opinion. Where it doesn’t quite make sense; is when you press the ‘show apps’ button the ‘activities’ is highlighted

In one of his blogs on the creation of the modified GNOME Shell @didrocks ruled out merging the two buttons or changing them in any way (even having an Ubuntu logo instead of the 3x3 dots button for Show Applications). The reason?

For instance, the application picker button is kept at the bottom and not moved at the top of the dock. Indeed, the application picker button isn’t the BFB from the Unity world launching our “dash”, with a bunch of collected search items and suggestions (applications, weather, wikipedia content…), but only a convenient shortcut to see “more applications” than there are in the dock. There was no need to deviate from the GNOME Shell design on this, and so, we didn’t. In addition, it would be awkward to have “Activities”, and then, the “Application menu” just below it, as it will make more difficult for people to understand the difference between the two entries.

The application picker button is a “show me more apps” for when you didn’t pin or run the desired applications:

Quite a few people are annoyed that the Ubuntu session isn’t more like vanilla GNOME (indeed, Ubuntu got a lot of slating in the OMG! Ubuntu! comments section, for example, for this - though I’ve also read many voices of approval in this hub for vanilla GNOME, just as there are many critics), so Ubuntu has to make a decision between the two different sets of users (those who want a GNOME that is much more like Unity, and those who want vanilla GNOME), Ubuntu’s gone for a vanilla GNOME session that is comfortable for Unity users, and merging the two buttons would be a step too far in the ‘back to Unity’ direction.

The modified session is really just GNOME with a stripped back, easy-to-maintain Dash to Dock (and Ubuntu got a lot of criticism for not just shipping upstream, but read the blog linked above for the reason that it didn’t do that), Ubuntu colors, AppIndicator support, and Ambiance.


Thank you @ads20000! This blog is fascinating and I totally understand where they are coming from. It’s a balancing act with many variables involved. One thing I noticed in the blog is that by default the activities hot spot is turned off and I didn’t remember this since I have played around with both the Ubuntu and vanilla GNOME sessions. It’s worth pointing out this default breaks at least one of the GNOME-supported extensions – in this case, the Applications Menu. This seems to me a real problem. I have found that a huge percentage of GNOME extensions either no longer worth with the current GNOME shell or conflict with default Ubuntu session settings. Is there anything that can be done about this by the Ubuntu community? Perhaps we should create a list of 10-20 popular extensions that we find work with Ubuntu session defaults. I would personally find this very useful.


A post was split to a new topic: Ubuntu Session Extensions

Hi. I am heavily using favorites bar and the number of application exceeds a lot length of the bar (even after making icons pretty small). Is there chance that in “Show applications”, new tab is added “Favorites” (or similar) next to existing tabs: “Frequent” and “All” ?

The division between “Frequent” and “All” is going to be dropped upstream this development cycle. Let’s see if it is replaced with something more useful. But it is unlikely that it will be exactly that, what you want.

I think that the 16.04 bar was better.
The app menu appeared there which I found clean and useful!
Screenshot from 2021-02-03 17-16-29
Now, I have two bars which I find takes up space.