Using GNOME/Tips and tricks

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The "out of the box" GNOME desktop is rather dull and boring (at least to some people). Here's how to make it a bit more interesting : 1. Delete the upper panel which contains the main GNOME menus. 2. Now, to the lower panel, add the Main Menu, the Clock, the Notification Area, the Desktop Switcher and the Window List by right clicking and clicking Add to Panel on the lower panel. Position all this as you please by dragging the applets around a bit. 3. Right click on the lower panel and click Preferences and increase the panel size as appropriate. 4. Go to GNOME Look or GNOME Art and download some wallpapers, icon themes, window borders, application themes or complete themes featuring all of the above components (GTK+ Themes). Now read on to know how to use all this stuff.

Adding Wallpapers

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Right click on the GNOME desktop and click Change Desktop Background and then in the dialogue that pops up choose Add Wallpaper and choose the appropriate wallpaper(s). Alternatively, you can just drag the wallpapers into the Change Desktop Background dialogue.

Adding Themes

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Go to the Main Menu -> System -> Preferences -> Themes and click Install Theme. Choose a theme file by entering the exact location or by clicking Browse (usually ending in .tar.gz) and click Install Theme to install it. Alternatively, you can drag the theme files to the Themes dialogue. Please note that the icon themes and window borders might not show up in the themes list. To access those, just click on Theme Details and click the appropriate tab. Now you can select the theme you installed from the list.

There you are. Now the dull GNOME desktop looks lively again!

Making screenshots

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A screenshot can be captured by either selecting "Take Screenshot..." from the "Actions" menu (in GNOME versions older than 2.10), by selecting "Take Screenshot" from the "System..." menu (GNOME 2.10 or greater), by using the screenshot applet or by using one of the following two keyboard shortcuts, configured in Preferences → Keyboard Shortcuts:

  • Print Screen, to take a screenshot of the entire screen, or
  • Alt + Print Screen, to take a screenshot of the currently active window.

The screenshot is saved in PNG format.

Defining Default Directories

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Sometimes it's worth to define custom directories locations. Ex: Music, Videos, etc. It can be done editing file ~/.config/user-dirs.dirs and setting custom places for these personal stuff. Use it to recover from some mess eventually done by another environment or application. In my case something moved my Desktop folder inside Burning folder. I had to figure out how to set it back to correct place grepping a little: simply I couldn't find out how to do it using regular setup menus or gconf-editor.