Introducing GNOME 40

GNOME 40 is the latest version of GNOME, and is the result of 6 months’ hard work by the GNOME community. It contains major new features, as well as many smaller improvements and bug fixes. In total, the release incorporates 24571 changes, made by approximately 822 contributors.

This release is dedicated to the team behind the GNOME Asia Summit 2020. GNOME Asia is the major annual GNOME conference in the Asia/Pacific part of the world, and is only possible thanks to the hard work of many volunteers. This year’s event was forced to be held online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are very much looking forward to meeting our friends from all around the world again in person in the near future.

Updated Activities Overview

GNOME 40 includes a new and improved Activities Overview design. This gives the overview a great new look, and provides an improved experience for navigating the system and launching apps.

The new design lays out the different parts of the system in two directions. Workspaces are arranged horizontally, and the overview and app grid are accessed vertically. Each direction has accompanying keyboard shortcuts, touchpad gestures and mouse actions:

  • Keyboard shortcuts use Super+Alt+///. (Pressing Super continues to open the overview, and existing keyboard shortcuts will continue to work as before.)

  • Touchpad gestures use three-finger swipes up/down/left/right.

  • Mouse scroll switches workspaces in the overview, and can be used with the Super in the regular desktop view.

Together these provide a fast, intuitive and coherent way to move around the system. Additionally, the app grid can now be easily customized, with enhanced drag and drop making it possible to arrange app launchers so they suit you.

The updated overview design brings a collection of other improvements, including:

  • A more helpful boot experience: the overview is now shown after boot, to help you get started.

  • The dash now separates favorite and non-favorite running apps. This makes it clear which apps are have been favorited and which haven’t.

  • Window thumbnails have been improved, and now have an app icon over each one, to help identification.

  • When workspaces are set to be on all displays, the workspace switcher is now shown on all displays rather than just the primary one.

More information about these changes and the process behind them can be found in the GNOME Shell and Mutter Development Blog.

Weather, Redesigned

The Weather application has been completely redesigned. It now shows more information, and looks better than ever! The new design features two main views: one for the hourly forecast for the next 48 hours, and one for the daily forecast, for the next 10 days.

It is also more mobile-friendly as it supports resizing to narrower sizes.

Improved Settings

The Keyboard settings have received a number of improvements for this release:

  • The input source settings have been moved from the Region & Language to Keyboard. This makes them easier to find, and groups all the keyboard settings in one place.

  • Additional settings have also been added, so that it is now possible to configure the Compose and Alternate Characters (3rd level chooser) keys.

  • Finally, the keyboard shortcut settings have had an update. They are now arranged in separate groups to aid navigation, and have an improved search design.

The Settings app has a number of other improvements, too. The Wi-Fi settings now pins known networks to the top of the list, and has an overall better layout. Additionally, the About page now shows the hardware model for your laptop, if it’s available.

Browse Better

The Web application has a new tabs design, which are easier to use and more powerful than before, allowing tabs to be quickly scrolled and resolving several deficiencies with the prior design.

Web can now also be configured to display search suggestions from Google if desired.

Software Changes

Software has had a number of improvements for GNOME 40. The large application banners have a new and improved look, and now cycle automatically. New version history dialogs display the recent changes for each application, the updates logic has been updated to reduce the frequency of reminders.

Be it Flatpak or distribution packages, GNOME Software now tells you where you’re installing your software from.

Some work happened behind the scenes to improve how Software presents information about new packages.

Files Enhancements

The Files app has benefitted from a large collection of changes for GNOME 40, including:

  • The preference dialog looks better and is clearer.

  • Files can now be sorted by creation date.

  • A handy preview is now shown when setting the wallpaper from the Files app.

  • Time estimates for ongoing file operations have been improved, so they are more accurate.

  • Executable text files can be run directly from Files with the Run as a Program context menu item.

  • Files is now more helpful when resolving conflicts while copying or moving a file by suggesting a new name.

  • Files’s built-in archive extraction feature now supports extracting password-protected archives.

  • The location entry offers Tab completions when typing a path.

And That’s Not All

GNOME 40 includes many other smaller improvements, including:

  • Maps has new information popups for locations, showing information from Wikipedia, as well as native location names. It is also more adaptive, making it possible to use it at a range of sizes.

  • The interface for using the Compose Key has been improved: Compose sequences are shown as they are being entered. Dead keys are handled in a similar way, too.

  • Many of GNOME’s apps have visual updates for GNOME 40, with rounded window corners and lists and new-style view switchers. Affected apps include Files, Web, Disks, Fonts, Calendar, Photos and System Monitor.

  • The Document Viewer sidebar displays paired thumbnails when the main view is in side-by-side mode.

  • GNOME’s visual style has got smoother and more polished. Sharp edges have been rounded, strong borders have been smoothed out, sidebar styling has been unified and toned down. Scrollbars are now slightly bigger when used as a control.

Getting GNOME 40

GNOME’s software is Free Software: all our code is available for download and can be freely modified and redistributed according to the respective licenses. To install it, we recommend that you wait for the official packages provided by your vendor or distribution. Popular distributions will make GNOME 40 available very soon, and some already have development versions that include the new GNOME release.


The GNOME Project is an international community supported by a non-profit Foundation. We focus on user experience excellence and first-class internationalization and accessibility. GNOME is a free and open project: if you want to join us, you can.