Permanent IM notifications

Update: the extension is now available on

Gnome 3 and the shell look really great, but there are a few things that annoy me. My main complaint is that I keep missing IM messages because there is no visual clue that you got a message (unless you are staring at the bottom of your screen exactly when you receive something).
This problem will probably be fixed in the next version of Gnome, see bug #641723, but I wanted something now. That’s why I wrote a simple extension that just displays the number of conversations with unread messages. To install it, just clone the git repository and execute “make install”.

Spot the difference
Spot the difference

The extension is unpolished, it does very little, the code is horrible and I didn’t pay any attention to usability; I just wanted a quick fix while waiting for upstream to fix the bug properly. Nevertheless, I hope this code will be useful for other people too!

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If I could flattr you, I would. You just made my day! Thanks a LOT!!

Great, thanks!

I’m pretty new to extension development, but I’m curious, how does the code know when a new message came in?

After missing many important messages, I recently moved from Gnome to KDE. This extension is just what I needed.


Thanks everybody :)

There would be more proper ways to do it, but I just overwrite the function that sets the count label on top of the icons in the message tray. When the count changes I go through all of the items in the tray and count how many have a counter set.

[…] to fix the bug properly. Nevertheless, I hope this code will be useful for other people too! – Marco Barisione, the extension […]

[…] Marco Barisione ha desenvolupat una extensió per al shell que mostra a la barra superior un petit quadre roig amb el nombre de notificacions que no hem revisat, al més pur estil del Google+. […]

The sad thing is that this is totally against the whole notification tray design. On the other hand, the current design clearly doesn’t work as-is. So thanks for the extension, it will surely make my life easier. I really hope the gnome-shell designer will fix this properly for 3.4


pvanhoof@lors:~/repos/gnome/shell-message-notifier$ make install
No such key ‘enabled-extensions’
To enable the extension type ‘make enable’.
pvanhoof@lors:~/repos/gnome/shell-message-notifier$ make enable
No such key ‘enabled-extensions’
No such key ‘enabled-extensions’
make: *** [disable-internal] Error 1

[…] του ο Marco Barisione και περισσότερα μπορειτε να δείτε στην ιστοσελίδα του και στην επόμενη έκδοση του extetion θα υπαρχουν […]

@Philip Van Hoof:
Hm, which version of gnome-shell are you using? You can try enabling it with gnome-tweak-tool.
The Makefile and everything are all a bit hacky as I wrote this mainly for my own use.

thanks! that’s something I was really missing in the gnome shell!

Great work! Lovely!

Integrate Facebook, Twitter, Empathy, Pidgin, IRC, X-Chat.

This is something I definitely needed.
Thank you!

While I got used to the notification on the bottom and this looks a bit like google-plus (why not) my biggest struggle is to get to IM contact list window.

I open hover to top-left, type empathy. Then I select empathy and depending if I have already some chat window/irc. I get a notification at the bottom saying Contact Window is ready which I have to click to get to it.

Seems to much hassle to get there. Other feel the same, is this somehow targeted?

Yay! That’s just what I needed! Thanks!

|/+1/| ;-)

Awesome little extension! I use it with mailnag – doesn’t reflect same message count for imap emails that mailnag states, but that’s ok at least I know there’s email waiting for me now when before I didn’t have a clue! Thanks!

Great extension!
Though I guess line 96 should read
count += Number(s._counterLabel.get_text()); instead of count++;.

No, because I want it to count the number of conversations with unread messages, not the number of unread messages.

[…] а ждать ему западло, и он по-быстрому наклепал расширение для Gnome Shell. Лёгенькое и простенькое оно вышло. Просто выводит на […]

Hi Marco, thanks for this! Quick question. I’m using Linux Mint, and no matter what I do, I can’t see the icon in the tray. There’s a space for the icon, but no icon. Do you know how I can make it visible?

Mint heavily modifies gnome shell as far as I know and extensions depend on the internals of the shell.

oh man.. santa makes me crazy

Get a no santa version here:

git clone

Hi Marco, could you publish this to

It doesn’t work for me (up to date ubuntu oneiric), maybe some change in the gnome API? could you write a fix?

[…] few months ago I wrote a gnome-shell extension that shows how many conversations with unread messages you have, so that I could stop missing incoming messages. I updated the extension so it now works better and […]