gnome shell extension to only unmute the microphone when you have something to say
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nothing to say

this gnome-shell extension always keeps your microphone muted, unless you actually have something to say.



this is how it looks in the top bar:

top bar screenshot

this is the osd notification:

osd screenshot

for whom?

this extension is intended for gnome users who participate in teleconferences.

it is especially awesome if you are in a noisy environment. you know, those coffee bars where the hipster crowd sits with their laptops. sipping from a way too expensive soy latte macchiato. which is served with a complimentary slice of gluten-free cake. which happens to be smaller than your finger nail. and it does not even taste sweet. anyway, i digress.

is this you? great. read on.

not you? well, maybe you are in a less exciting, but perhaps more common, open-plan office.

is this you? totally cool. read on.


this extension offers these amazing features:

  • microphone icon in the top bar

    the icon shows whether the mic is muted or not. click it to toggle. the icon is only visible when the microphone is actually being recorded. that means no visual clutter if the microphone is not in use.

  • shortcut key to mute or unmute

    press the shortcut key once to unmute, and once again to mute.

    but there is more. the shortcut key also functions as a walkie-talkie style push-to-talk button. how cool is that?

    you do not know what that is? no worries, it is rather simple. press the configured shortcut key to unmute the microphone, and keep it pressed. whenever you release the shortcut key, the microphone will be muted again. so as long as you press the key you can talk, and as soon as you release it, you can cough and sneeze as much as you like.

    the default shortcut is <Super>backslash. you don’t like it? funny, neither do i. but at least it does not clash with anything else, so please do not complain about it. why not? well, because you can change it. you can even add additional shortcuts. this involves setting the appropriate dconf key. the easiest way is typing this into a terminal window:

    dconf write /org/gnome/shell/extensions/nothing-to-say/keybinding-toggle-mute '["<Super>backslash", "Pause"]'

    of course you should change the preferred shortcuts into something that makes sense for you and your keyboard.

  • on screen display (osd) pop-up notifications

    an osd pop-up, which is the small overlay window that also pops up when you change your speaker volume or laptop screen brightness, will be shown for the following events:

    • microphone (de)activation

      this happens when a video conferencing application starts or stops recording.

    • microphone muting and unmuting

      this happens when you mute the microphone by clicking on the icon or pressing the shortcut key.


this extension is available via the official gnome-shell extensions repository:

alternatively, if you‘re feeling adventurous or want to contribute, put a clone of this repository (or a symlink) in this directory:


note that the files must be directly in this directory, not in a subdirectory thereof.


when participating in a group call, it is very likely that you are not speaking most of the time, unless you are the main speaker in a remote presentation. so why stream all your background noise to the rest of the attendees?

think for a bit. oh yes. you have heard ringing phones, crying babies, coughs, sneezes, or, if you have been particularly unlucky, even less appetising sounds. at some point people get annoyed. someone will speak up to ask others to please be quiet. the original conversation got interrupted. the attendees got distracted. what were we talking about again? what was this meeting supposed to be about in the first place?

oops, i digress. again.

luckily most teleconferencing applications allow you to mute yourself. however, that usually involves clicking a button in that application‘s window. and that application may not be visible. because you were just getting some real work done. right?

nah. more likely, you were looking at cat pictures. oh boy, this one is seriously cute. oh wow. this one is even cuter.

at this point someone in the meeting suddenly asks you a question.

focus. think. act. you have to quickly find the correct window. dammit, where has that browser tab gone? ah, found it. unmute yourself. speak for a bit. now mute yourself again.

so many things to do when you just want to speak a few wise words. ‘correct, boss, as usual you are completely right!’

now. that was stressful.

situations like that need fixing. that’s why.

who wrote this?

wouter bolsterlee. wbolster. on github. star my repos. fork them. and so on. on twitter. follow me. or say hi.

anything else?

oh yes. this is alpha quality experimental software. feedback welcome via the issue tracker, both praise and complaints. although preferably the former.