How-To: Configure Application Groups in GNOME 3

By default, at least on Fedora 20, there are only two application groups in GNOME 3, ‘Sundry’ and ‘Utilities’ (see below).  Although items in GNOME’s applications list are organized alphabetically, when you start having a lot of software installed it can be a bit cluttered to look through (in my opinion).  To clean up space and potentially make it easier to find my programs I wanted to create an application group, particularly, for my games, which I don’t play often enough for them to be taken up so much space.

Default GNOME App Groups
Default GNOME 3 Application Groups

CONTENTS

  1. TLDR
  2. BACKGROUND
  3. DIRECTIONS

TLDR:

You need to use dconf Editor to edit the values listed in the ‘app-folder-categories’ value in org.gnome.shell.  Skip to the directions section for more specific instructions, and/or view the instructions on another blog post.

BACKGROUND

After looking my system, and searching online, I came across the Desktop Menu Specification.  I thought this would have the information I needed, since it appeared you could control which groups (a.k.a. categories) an application appears in by specifying the appropriate category name, using the Categories= option, in their .desktop file (ex: /usr/share/applications/gcalctool.desktop, for the GNOME calculator).  The specification for .desktop files can be found here.  Looking at the Desktop Menu files, located in /etc/xdg/menus/ in Fedora, it appeared that the Games group should already exist in the GNOME applications menu, however this was obviously not the case.  I tried editing the Desktop Menu files, but nothing I did worked.

I then sought help from the community; the Fedora Project Google+ community to be exact.  I received a couple of replies to my question, one of which pointed me to this blog post.  This is exactly what I was looking for!  This method requires you to use the dconf Editor, which you could think of being similar to, but not the same as, the Windows registry editor.  Although this method appeared like it should work, I wanted to find out if there is a more user friendly way of creating groups.  So I jumped onto GNOME’s IRC server, irc.gnome.org (a.k.a. GIMPNet), and went into the #gnome channel to ask my question.

One helpful individual on there pointed me to here, and explained that currently there is no native way to create application groups, but there will be in the GNOME 3.12 release.  Doing a little bit of searching, I found the GNOME 3.12 release should be coming out March 26th, 2014, but I didn’t feel like waiting till then.  So finally, to my delight, I used dconf Editor to create my application groups.  My walk through on how to create them is below:

DIRECTIONS

  1. Install dconf Editor

    $ sudo yum install dconf-editor

  2. Open dconf Editor, and click on ‘org’, then ‘gnome’, then select ‘shell’
    Dconf Editor --- org.gnome



    Dconf Editor org.gnome.shell
  3. Add your application group names, similar to the ones I have below or any from the list in this post referenced before.  If you would like to find appropriate category names, you can look at the .desktop files of the programs you are trying to group together to see what they have in their “Categories=” option, or you can look at the <Category> tags in /etc/xdg/menus/gnome-applications.menu.
    Gnome Application Categories
    Gnome Application Categories