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tiling window manager extension for gnome-shell
TypeScript JavaScript Python Other
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build restructure build to support multiple backends within src/
icons/status minor change to fullscreen mode (keyboard shortcut is now win+shift+F)
interactive restructure build to support multiple backends within src/
res initial prefs attempt
schemas change default tile shortcut to win+t
shellshape remove 3.10 compatibility from master (see 3.10 git branch)
src Fullscreen layout: allow non-tiled (yanked) windows
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tools restructure build to support multiple backends within src/
xdg/data/gnome-shell/extensions moved some xdg/data/ entries under shellshape/data to avoid having to…
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LICENCE gpl3 licence
Makefile build conveniences 0.12.0
VERSION 0.12.0
all.gup update README with new build steps
compile.gup restructure build to support multiple backends within src/
dev-install.gup moved some xdg/data/ entries under shellshape/data to avoid having to…
gnome-shell.desktop minor
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A tiling window manager extension for gnome-shell. Many tiling window managers are an all-or-nothing affair, shellshape allows you to tile your windows when it makes sense, and still provides powerful direct manipulation when you need it. You don't have to give up any of the gnome features you like, so it makes for a very smooth learning curve.

This software is in-development. I use it daily, but it might break stuff. Use at your own risk. Multiple monitor support is not really present, and doing fancy things like "always on top" windows may or may not break it.

I must thank bluetile, for it was the inspiration for this extension and many features are lifted directly from it (although not code, JS and haskell are vastly different beasts).

Running it

Briefly, 0install run If you don't have 0install, you should install the zeroinstall-injector package first. For more details, please see instructions on

You can also install it from the official gnome shell extensions site. This may lag (sometimes months) behind the development release, as they perform manual approval of all updates.

Running a local version

To build the latest version, you'll need to install npm (the node.js package manager). You'll also need python. Then:

  1. clone this repo
  2. run tools/gup compile
  3. If you have 0install, you can then just run:

    0install run shellshape-local.xml

    Otherwise, you can install the extension to a symlink in ~/.local/share/gnome-shell/extensions using:

    tools/gup dev-install

To compile stuff (after changing some source code), run tools/gup compile. You can add e.g -j3 to compile stuff in parallel.

running on arch linux

You may want to try this user-maintained package if the normal method doesn't work for you, but I have no idea what it will do to your system.


The source code is all TypeScript. This is mostly like JavaScript, but it has optional type annotations, a module system, and (sometimes) it yells at you when you do something that makes no sense. Which is a nicer experience than gnome-shell yelling at you, crashing, and disabling all of your extensions.

  • interactive/: run the core tiling code in the browser (without killing gnome shell when you break something ;))
  • src/tiling.ts: core tiling & layout stuff
  • src/gjs: gnome-shell specific stuff (mutter integration, extension system, indicator, etc)
  • src/node: nodejs shim, used for running tests
  • src/xbrowser: browser shim, used for interactive/index.html
  • src/stub: nodejs shim, used for running tests
  • shellshape/: third party libs, metadata.json, translations, gschemas, etc

Build targets with tools/gup. Targets exist wherever there is a corresponding *.gup file. You can find those with:

$ git ls-files | fgrep '.gup' | sed -e 's!/gup/!/!;s!\.gup$!!'

Not all of them will work, as some might depend on tools only I happen to have installed. Patches welcome if you find + fix that sort of thing.


If you export SHELLSHAPE_DEBUG=all, you will get a debug log written to /tmp/shellshape.log. You can set values other than all if you want to debug on specific topics (available topics include extension, indicator, tiling, workspace and window) - they should be set as a comma-delimited string, e.g SHELLSHAPE_DEBUG=workspace,tiling.

"It doesn't work"

If you don't know why, here's some things to check:

  • Check the extension is enabled (you can see this in the "Shell Extensions" section of gnome-tweak-tool)
  • See if there are any errors in looking glass that mention shellshape (press alt-F2, type "lg" and then click the "Errors" tab)
  • Check the console output (if running in a console) for any messages that mention shellshape
  • Check /tmp/shellshape.log after launching with $SHELLSHAPE_DEBUG=all

To report a bug or crash, please see the github issues page.

Replace gnome-shell

If you symlink the provided gnome-shell.desktop file to ~/.local/share/applications/, gnome-session will use that to launch gnome-shell instead of the system's gnome-shell. Uninstalling is as simple as removing that file.

Keyboard shortcuts

Are listed at Some helpful folk have created graphical (SVG) versions of the keyboard shortcuts, to serve as a handy reference:

Note: These are for versions prior to 0.12. Anyone want to update them?




version 0.12

  • gnome-shell 3.16 compatibility
  • Changes to keyboard shortcuts
  • Next/Previous layout shortcuts (not bound by default)

version 0.10

  • Fairly large overhaul to codebase:
    • Removed coffeescript, now using typescript instead. This is a JavaScript superset (so for the most part it's just JavaScript), but with optional static typing. This has improved the quality of the code in a number of places (it uncovered a number of dumb type-related bugs), and removes the need for contributors to know CoffeeScript.
    • Lots of cleanup of state management. This improves a number of circumstances where shellshape and gnome-shell disagree about the state of windows / workspaces, etc.
    • Made "default layout" setting apply instantly, rather then require a restart.
    • Additional misc bugs fixed while going through the codebase.

version 0.9

  • Support for gnome-shell 3.12

version 0.8

  • Preliminary support for multiple monitors
  • Update screen bounds every time we do a layout

version 0.7

  • API changes for gnome-shell 3.10. This makes 0.7 incompatible with anything before 3.10.

version 0.6.1

  • Fixed "Shellshape settings" indicator menu in gnome-shell 3.8

version 0.6

  • Support for gnome-shell 3.8
  • Support for localisation (plus german translation) thanks to @jonnius

version 0.5.4

  • Support for gnome-shell 3.6

version 0.5.3

  • Fix error launching dconf-editor from the preferences panel

version 0.5.2

  • Updated manifest.json to declare compatibility with gnome-shell 3.4.2
  • Include LICENCE and files in tarball

version 0.5.1

  • Added blacklist to prevent "Conky" windows from being tiled.
  • Fixed a number of bugs to do with tracking window movement and sizes.
  • Switched the "Horizontal" and "Vertical" layouts. You may need to adjust your keyboard shortcuts if you've set them to anything non-default, as the gsettings keys have swapped as well (if you haven't customised shortcuts, the defaults will still do the right thing)..

version 0.5:

  • Removed label from indicator icon.
  • Rework icons to be simpler and look/act like other symbolic icons in the panel.
  • Added a preferences panel (accessible from the gse website, or gnome-shell-extension-prefs).
  • Added a "max autotile windows" option.
  • Added the ability to customise keyboard shortcuts from the preferences panel.

version 0.4:

  • First release on
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