What's New In GNOME 44

GNOME 44 screenshot

After its usual 6-month release cycle, GNOME 44 will be released today. Read on to find out the new features and improvements in this release.

Quick Settings menu improvements

GNOME 44 background apps
Background apps menu

For this release, the GNOME Shell quick settings menu has received a lot of attention:

  • There's a new background apps menu which shows applications that run in the background without a visible window, allowing to close them. This only works for Flatpak applications for now. 
  • The Bluetooth button now has a menu which displays connected devices, as well as allowing devices to be connected and disconnected.
  • Quick settings buttons now have descriptions. For example, previously the Power Mode button would display only its current mode, e.g., Balanced; with this release, the main button text shows Power Mode with the current power mode as its description, e.g., Balanced (this can be seen in the background apps screenshot above).

It's worth noting I couldn't find a way to re-activate an app running in the background—if I close the Discord window (and it's enabled to close to the tray), it shows up in this list, but clicking it doesn't allow re-opening the Discord window. So either I missed something (let me know in the comments!), or this is not supported.

The file chooser now supports a grid view with thumbnails

GNOME 44 GTK4 grid view file chooser thumbnails
GTK4 file chooser grid view with thumbnails

One of the most requested GNOME features has finally landed with the latest GNOME 44: a grid view with thumbnails in the file chooser (the open / save dialog). This continues to use the list view by default, but you can switch to the grid view by clicking a button in the upper right-hand side of the window.

It's important to note that this feature only forks for GTK4 applications. When using GTK3 (and GTK2, if you still use such an app) applications, only the list view is available.

Settings enhancements

For the GNOME 44 release, there has been a lot of worked put into various Settings improvements.

GNOME 44 mouse and touchpad settings

Mouse & Touchpad settings (screenshot above) now include animations which show how the traditional and natural scrolling work. Also, this settings panel now includes marks for touchpad/mouse speed scales (and now they can be changed with the keyboard and mouse scroll). There's also a new mouse acceleration profile option, so the Tweaks app is no longer needed to change this.

GNOME 44 accessibility settings

The Accessibility panel (screenshot above) has been redesigned, and it now uses a more modern navigation model. Instead of having all the categories listed on a single page, each category now has its own section. There are also some new settings: over-amplification (increase the volume above the maximum threshold), turn accessibility features on or off using the keyboard, and an option to disable the overlay scrollbars (make the scrollbars always visible).

GNOME 44 sound settings

The Sound settings panel (screenshot above) has been reorganized, with the volume level and alert sounds now being available in new windows. It's also possible to disable the alert sound now. Also, the sound test window has been redesigned.

Other Settings improvements in GNOME 44 include:

    • Device Security (available under Privacy) includes new designs for the dialogs, and shows the device security status as "Checks Failed", "Checks Passed", or "Protected",
    • The Network and Wi-Fi panels now use libnma’s own security widgets for managing connections, and it now allows sharing Wi-Fi passwords through a QR code. What's more, the Network panel has received support for managing Wireguard VPN connections,
    • Kernel and firmware versions are now displayed in the About panel,
    • Various polishes and smaller improvements to lots of panels, like Users, Wacom, Region and Language, and others.

Application updates

GNOME 44 files nautilus expandable folders

Files (Nautilus) has regained its expandable folders in List View feature (screenshot above), which the application lost since the migration to GTK4. This needs to be enabled from its settings.

GNOME 44 Nautilus new tab options

Files also comes with various new tab options (screenshot above), like move tabs to a new window, restore closed tab and close other tabs. The merge request also had an option to pin tabs, but I'm not seeing this option in Files 44 on Fedora 38, so I'm guessing it was later removed, probably because there are too many tab options now, and pinning is not exactly useful since tabs are not saved when closing Files.

Other Files improvements for this release includes improved performance while searching, and the re-addition of the 64px icon size.

Another application that has received some important changes for the GNOME 44 release is Software, which includes:

  • Various modernization changes, using modern libadwaita widgets.
  • Option to only shown open source apps.
  • Improve search reliability.
  • Autoremove unused flatpak runtimes.
  • Fixes reloading while installing/uninstalling apps.
  • Image-based operating system updates now have both progress information and descriptions.

GNOME 44 console tabs overview
Console tab overview

Other GNOME apps note-worthy changes:

  • Web (Epiphany) has been ported to GTK4, and it ships with new password and permission prompts as popovers/dialogs instead of infobars.
  • Console (terminal app, not to be confused with GNOME Terminal) now has a tab overview option, to display open tabs in a grid.
  • Weather now has a smooth temperature chart, and a restyled header bar.
  • Various other smaller improvements across most GNOME apps.

The GNOME 44 changes presented in this article are only the most prominent in this release, but there are many more smaller improvements and fixes.

The GNOME 44 desktop should be made available soon after its release in rolling Linux distributions like Arch Linux. It will also be available with the next Ubuntu and Fedora releases (Ubuntu 23.04 / Fedora 38, currently in beta), and other Linux distributions shipping with the GNOME desktop.