Monthly Archives: May 2011

Fix Dual Monitors in GNOME 3 (aka My Workspaces are Broken!)

Note: See update for GNOME 3.3/3.4 at the end of this post.

I’ve already expressed some disappointment in the default multi-monitor behavior in GNOME 3 on the dev’s blog (read: I posted an angry rant in the comments).

Basically, in GNOME 3, for some reason, they decided the typical use case was for the secondary monitor to stay fixed when switching workspaces, which is the complete wrong setup for someone using dual monitors.

Luckily, as Pascal points out in the blog’s comments, there’s a setting for this, and the other (ie correct) behavior is actually mutter’s default.

Luckily, the fix is pretty simple, and will allow workspaces to switch on multiple monitors again!

  1. Download gconf-editor – this is probably available in your distribution’s package manager.
  2. Start gconf-editor – the “Run Command” menu is still available in GNOME 3 by pressing Alt-F2.
  3. In the tree on the left, navigate to /desktop/gnome/shell/windows
  4. UNCHECK the box next to workspaces_only_on_primary

You’ll need to log out or restart to see the changes, and some commenters in the above post seem to note some small issues with the setup, but all-in-all this has been completely functional for me; and best of all, I can use both monitors again!

Update for GNOME 3.3/3.4

Cedric Briner emailed me to let me know that for GNOME 3.3/3.4, the command has been updated. The new command is (instead of gconf-editor):

gsettings set org.gnome.shell.overrides workspaces-only-on-primary false
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