How do I change the number of columns in the application overview in Gnome 3.18?

The appDisplay.js file which could be used to set icon size and grid properties of the application overview (Super+A) in Ubuntu Gnome 14.04 is not available any more in Ubuntu 16.04 shipping with Gnome 3.18.

In most displays, having only the default six columns leave a large empty space on each side of the application grid, which could be used to avoid scrolling three or four pages down in the all-applications display and simply make better use of the available space. Where is that value defined? Is it possible to configure the number of columns to be computed according to the available space or to set it to a higher value?

Here is Solutions:

We have many solutions to this problem, But we recommend you to use the first solution because it is tested & true solution that will 100% work for you.

Solution 1

It is possible to change without re-compiling gnome-shell, by editing in the hex editor.

Here is the proof:


  • Make a backup of ‘’ just in case something goes wrong.

  • Open ‘’ with an hex editor (I use Bless) and search for ‘MAX_COLUMNS = 6’ as a text.

  • Replace 6 with ascii value of the number of columns that you want. (For 2 digit number of the colums replace space and 6)

  • You can do the same for the number of rows by changing ‘MIN_ROWS’, and for the icon size by changing “ICON_SIZE” (search for ‘const ICON_SIZE’).

  • Save and replace ‘’

  • Restart gnome-shell, do Alt+F2 and in the popup type ‘r’ or ‘restart’ and press enter

Solution 2

FWIW, there seems be an shell extensions nowadays – More columns in applications view, to be found here:
that seems to do exactly whats is being asked.

Note however, that you may need to tweak the grid icon and item sizes too, if you really want to have more columns displayed, as the default sizes are likely too large to fit more columns. So tweak /usr/share/gnome-shell/theme/ubuntu.css or whichever of its siblings is actually in use. Tweak the section /* App Vault/Grid */ and then restart the shell – alt-F2r<enter>

Solution 3

The appDisplay.js file is now wrapped into the file, as are all the other JavaScript resource files (.js) of the user interface.

Unfortunately, there is no middle way to permanently implement modifications made on these files and it is necessary to build the whole gnome-shell package again, as explained in this thread:

Gnome-shell list 2016 October

Or wait for an extension to make tweaking of the application overview easy.

Solution 4

change “” works on gnome 3.34.2. as well

cat /usr/share/gnome/gnome-version.xml
<?xml version="1.0"?>
 <distributor>Arch Linux®</distributor>


Note: Use and implement solution 1 because this method fully tested our system.
Thank you 🙂

All methods was sourced from or, is licensed under cc by-sa 2.5, cc by-sa 3.0 and cc by-sa 4.0

Leave a Reply