LinuxSoftwareMay 9, 20210All about the new features in GNOME 40

In this article, we will take a closer look at the newly released features in GNOME 40. Contains Activities Overview, Redesigned weather application, Settings, Software, Files, and others.

GNOME, the default desktop environment used by many major Linux distributions, announced the launch of GNOME 40. After 822 contributors’ hard work of 6 months, the latest release is launched with 24571 changes. GNOME 40 offers major new features, as well as many small improvements and bug fixes. The GNOME Project also announced that the release is dedicated to the team behind the GNOME Asia Summit 2020.

What is GNOME?

GNOME is an open-source desktop environment for operating systems. GNOME was an acronym for GNU Network Object Model Environment, however, the GNOME Project dropped it because it is no longer reflects its vision. It was started in 1997 by Miguel de Icaza and Federico Mena. It is the default desktop environment for Fedora, Debian, Ubuntu, SUSE Linux Enterprise, RHEL, CentOS, Oracle Linux, and many other major distributions.


Why is it named GNOME 40 instead of 3.x or 4?

Before the release of GNOME 40, Emmanuele Bassi from GNOME Project stated that GNOME is changing the versioning scheme. With the GNOME 40 release, each new development cycle will increment the version by 1 and will have 3 phases: alpha, beta, RC. He also stated,

“Because the next version would be 3.40, and it’s a nice, round number. The 3.38 release was the 40th release of GNOME, but this discussion came too late in the cycle to effectively switch, so we can say that, if you start counting at zero, the next cycle would be the 40th release of GNOME. By using 40 as the base, we acknowledge what came before, and we don’t introduce a large discontinuity in the number progression, which is somewhat the point of this change.”

What’s new?

Gnome 40 is the newest version of the popular Linux desktop environment, Gnome. The new version is brining new features:

Activities Overview

GNOME 40 introduces a new and enhanced Activities Overview design. It offers an improved experience and makes it easier to navigate the system and the apps. In the new design, workspaces are arranged horizontally. The overview and app grid are accessed vertically and new keyboard shortcuts, touchpad gestures, and mouse actions are accompanying these directions. In addition, users can now customize the app grid with drag-and-drop. GNOME 40 also includes:

  • 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 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.

Redesigned weather application


The Weather application in GNOME 40 is completely redesigned. It has a new look and it is capable of showing more information. There are two main views, one for the hourly forecast for the next 48 hours, and one for the daily forecast, for the next 10 days.


GNOME 40 also introduces new improvements. For example, now Wi-Fi settings let you see the known networks on the top of the list and have a better layout. The about page can now show the hardware model of your system, if available. Some other improvements are:

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


In GNOME 40, the application banners have an improved look and cycle automatically. The version history dialogs can also show the latest changes for each application. The updates logic has been updated to reduce the frequency of reminders. GNOME also tells users where they are installing the software from. 


The Files application also received various improvements, such as:

  • 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.


Here are some of the other improvements in GNOME 40:

  • 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.


GNOME 40 looks very different than previous versions. Rounded window corners and smoother animations gave it a more modern look. GNOME 40 also offers some quality of life improvements which makes things easier for users. App launcher at the bottom and customizable app launcher are very user-friendly. 


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