6 Ways to Speed Up the GNOME Desktop

Bertel King 01-05-2018

For most popular versions of Linux, GNOME is the desktop interface you see GNOME Explained: A Look at One of Linux's Most Popular Desktops You're interested in Linux, and you've come across "GNOME", an acronym for GNU Network Object Model Environment. GNOME is one of the most popular open source interfaces, but what does that mean? Read More . If your experience is slow or laggy, there are several adjustments you can make regardless of whether you’re using Ubuntu, Fedora, or Debian.


Want to speed up your GNOME experience? Here are six tweaks that can put a spring into GNOME’s step.

1. Disable or Uninstall Extensions

disable or uninstall extensions to speed up gnome

GNOME isn’t very customizable out of the box. At first, you can change the wallpaper and little else. But you can use extensions to make GNOME be what you want 8 GNOME Shell Extensions that Improve the Interface After using GNOME for a while, you may wish to change a few things about the overview mode, or even tweak the panel. These eight extensions help you do just that! Read More .

While these add-ons are one of GNOME’s great strengths, they’re also a weakness. Installing them can gradually slow down your computer.

Each extension increases what the interface has to load and keep in memory. Some extensions introduce more strain than others. The speed hit often isn’t drastic enough to stand out, so your experience may have gradually slowed down without you realizing.


So if you have a bunch of extensions always running on your machine, you may want to try turning them off to see if you get a speed boost.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a built-in way to view and manage all of the extensions you have installed. You need to download a tool called GNOME Tweaks, which you can find using GNOME Software (renamed to Ubuntu Software in Ubuntu). In GNOME Tweaks you will see all of your extensions listed in the Extensions section of the sidebar.

2. Turn Off Search Sources

turn off search sources to speed up gnome

The GNOME Activities Overview opens whenever you click on Activities in the top-left or press the Super key (i.e. the Windows or Command key) on your keyboard. From here you can click around to open software, or you can start typing to perform a search.


The Activities Overview searches more than just software. It can also locate files on your computer. In addition, you can check the weather, search Wikipedia, and open bookmarks. Some of these features require accessing the internet with every key you type. If you’re not using this functionality, those are computer resources that don’t have to be spent.

You can toggle search sources via Settings > Search. If a source doesn’t appear there, then it may be a GNOME extension instead. You can toggle those using GNOME Tweaks or uninstall them via GNOME Software.

3. Disable File Indexing

disable file indexing to speed up gnome

Accessing the internet isn’t the only way searches increase the pressure on your computer. In order to search for files and documents, a program must first run in the background that reads these file names and creates an index. This service has to run often in order to detect new files that you create.


That means even while you’re looking at a static screen, your PC may be hard at work.

Turning off file indexing can free up resources, especially if you’re using a cheaper or older machine with lower system specs. You may also notice that you have improved battery life after making this change. To disable file indexing, turn off the Files option under Settings > Search.

File indexing in GNOME comes from a service called GNOME Tracker, which you can uninstall entirely if you want to be certain it isn’t running in the background.

4. Turn Off Animations

turn off animations to speed up gnome


When you click the Activities button, the Overview screen wooshes in out of nowhere. Ideally that animation is quick, but sometimes it lags and stutters. Sometimes this animation is the source of the lag between when you press the Super key and when the Activities Overview screen appears.

Even when the animation doesn’t jitter, it’s still slower than having no animation at all. Part of what made older desktop operating systems feel snappy was the way windows instantly appeared or disappeared. If you’ve wondered why your new desktop feels slower, even with powerful specs, this may be the reason.

You can disable animations via GNOME Tweaks. Open the apps and look for the animations toggle in the Appearance section.

5. Install Lighter Alternative Apps

install lighter apps to speed up gnome

GNOME provides some great apps. Your chosen Linux operating system (more commonly known as a “distribution” or “distro”) likely provided a few other well-known open source programs. Think Firefox or LibreOffice. These are some of the best tools in the free software world, but they’re also relatively heavy.

Want a lighter web browser? Try out GNOME Web—here are a few reasons to use GNOME Web and its web apps. You can also try one of the many alternative web browsers. If you’re not exchanging complex documents with people using other programs, you may find that AbiWord is the only word processor you need. Gnumeric is as good at doing the kind of relatively basic things I do with a spreadsheet as LibreOffice. Even seemingly simple apps like Gedit have a lighter alternative, such as Leafpad.

Here are some alternative Linux apps that may put less burden on your PC 12 Lightest Linux Software and Programs to Speed Up an Old PC Switching to Linux is a great way to breathe life into an aging machine, but it's also a lot of work! Need to lighten the load on your Linux-powered machine? Try these apps! Read More . You can find most of them, as well as the apps I’ve listed above, using GNOME Software.

6. Limit Startup Applications

limit startup apps to speed up gnome

Like people, computers slow down when they’re placed under a demanding workload. The more apps we run at once, the harder our computer has to work.

Some apps automatically launch when we sign into our computers. They often go unnoticed, running in the background. Yet even if we don’t see them, they’re still increasing the demand on our PCs.

Most popular GNOME distributions come with an app called Startup Applications. Here you can find services that launch when you login. Some are there by default. Others are programs you’ve installed that added themselves to the list.

Note: Not all background services appear in Startup Applications. Some are treated more like system components. Removing them requires a package manager Which Linux Package Manager (and Distro) Is Right for You? A key difference between the main Linux distros is the package manager; the differences are strong enough that it can influence your choice of distro. Let's look at how the various package managers work. Read More and general knowledge of what you can safely remove without impacting the apps you rely on.

Is Your GNOME PC Feeling Faster Yet?

If not, there are more Linux-related speed improvements that you can make regardless of whether you use GNOME.

If your computer is still bogging down under the stress, you may need to use a lighter desktop environment or distribution entirely 14 Lightweight Linux Distributions to Give Your Old PC New Life Need a lightweight operating system? These special Linux distros can run on older PCs, some with as little as 100MB of RAM. Read More .

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  1. jim
    May 16, 2018 at 12:09 pm


  2. M Y AWAN
    May 8, 2018 at 9:50 pm

    or go for xfce based distro. you wont regret!

  3. Jim
    May 6, 2018 at 11:34 am

    install almost any other desktop other than KDE.

  4. Dragonmouth
    May 2, 2018 at 3:37 pm

    Step 1: Run at least a two core proc that's not 5 years old
    Step 2: Have more than 2 gigs of DDR3
    Step 3: Have a disk that's a minimum of 7200 rpm if you don't have an SSD
    Step 4: Don't expect to run 8000 processes in unison