Problem description

I really like the 2 by 2 workspaces in Ubuntu 16.04. But it seems I can only shift workspace up and down.

Is there a way to achieve this?

What I have tried

Tried the GNOME extension called Workspace Grid (suggested here: Can I have 2x2 workspaces in GNOME 3?), however, it does not work because when I tried to install it, I cannot find installation extension in the GNOME Tweaks.

  • The install option does not appear probably because: 'Officially it doesn't support GNOME v3.26 yet, but you may be able to make it work adding "3.26" to its metadata.json file.' (Or 3.28 in the case of 18.04) – muru May 25 '18 at 5:24
  • Did you use Unity in Ubuntu 16.04, but Gnome in 17.10? I also lost my 3x3 grid in going from 16 to 17, but that's because somehow my desktop switched to Gnome. The Unity setting is still there for the 3x3 grid, but it's ignored by Gnome. (Using the Workspace Grid now, which does the job). – Kaz May 30 '18 at 17:35
  • This is only a suggestion but you may want to consider binding movement to each workspace to ctrl+super+up/right/down/left for workspace 1,2,3,4. The diagram of workspaces is only a diagram, not how they must be mapped in your head. With the noted keybindings I treat them as if they're four workspaces in cardinal directions. It's not exactly the grid that you want but it feels like I can orient myself in them instead of counting. I'm not sure if this is helpful. – Lfod Mar 2 '19 at 18:02
  • In the answers below please make a note of the difference between 'Workspace grid' and 'Workspace matrix' – XavierStuvw Oct 18 '19 at 14:56
  • Does this answer your question? Is there a way to get a workspace grid in Gnome 3.x? – Rasmus Dec 28 '19 at 15:38

The option to install GNOME extensions using GNOME Tweaks is removed from last few versions of the application. But you can simply install and manage extensions from their official websites. To do that first install the chrome-gnome-shell package by running the following command in Terminal

sudo apt install chrome-gnome-shell

Then visit https://extensions.gnome.org/ using Firefox or Google Chrome, the website should ask you to install one browser add-on/extension. Install it.

Then go to the extension's homepage, you'll be able to install the extension just by toggling on the button at the top-right:

enter image description here

Alternatively, you can manually install extensions following this answer.

  • 13
    It's amazing ... ly stupid to have to install extensions for your desktop as if they were browser extensions. – Kaz May 29 '18 at 19:24
  • 1
    @Kaz Well, there are other ways to install extensions, see this: askubuntu.com/questions/1029161/… – pomsky May 29 '18 at 20:35
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    I set number of rows of workspaces to 2 and columns to 2 as well - this should give me a 2x2 grid. But it's still at 1 row 2 columns. Why? – MERose Sep 23 '18 at 10:52
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    I did. What was active is the dynamic workspace generator. I had to force-navigate to one of those yet inexistent workspaces. There's a setting in Gnome Tweaks to disable dynamic workspaced and set them to static, so that the grid is always expanded. – MERose Sep 23 '18 at 11:42
  • @MERose Ah, yes. It (that you need to disable dynamic workspaces fiest) is mentioned in the original question. – pomsky Sep 23 '18 at 11:44

The Workspace Matrix extension is better than Workspace Grid in my experience. It's based on Workspace Grid, but fixed to work properly on Ubuntu 18, including thumbnails and some other weird kinks that Workspace Grid has (the grid was randomly changing size as I switched between workspaces, for example):


Workspace Matrix

Install it by searching the Ubuntu Software Center for Workspace Matrix:

Workspace Matrix

  • 2
    "No application found" in Ubuntu Software with Ubuntu 18.04 as of today – XavierStuvw Mar 12 '20 at 22:13
  • 1
    Can confim that the application still does not exist in Ubuntu Software as of today. – gbmhunter Apr 28 '20 at 2:23

TL;DR: Yes, you can.

This is the alternative answer in case you're too lazy to install that GNOME extension.

You can install Unity desktop if you don't mind downloading and using other than GNOME desktop. It's pulled back to universe repository (unlike 16.04 which is in main), which Canonical doesn't maintain anymore.

Simply type this command in terminal:

$ sudo apt install ubuntu-unity-desktop unity-tweak-tool

You might be prompted with choices of default desktop manager. Pick either gdm or lightdm.

Log off/reboot and select Unity when logging in. Then, open Unity Tweak Tool and click Workspace Settings.


Here, you can configure it to have 2 by 2 workspaces.

  • 15
    "in case you're too lazy to install that GNOME extension", but don't mind installing a whole new desktop environment! ;-) – pomsky Oct 13 '18 at 16:49
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    "answer in case you're too lazy to install that GNOME extension." it would be far more relevant to just explain us objectively the difference between the two elements, and let us make our choice quietly ;). – Webwoman Feb 28 '19 at 9:32
  • @Webwoman, in the same way you need a browser (e.g. Firefox) to navigate the internet, you need a desktop environment (e.g. GNOME, Unity, KDE) to navigate through your Operative System. You can have extensions for both of them. – toto_tico Feb 10 '20 at 8:22
  • The crazy part is that installing a GNOME extension is so non-intuitive that explains how people just prefer to install a new Desktop Environment! Seriously? In order to install a GNOME extension, you need to install (1) a chrome-gnome-shell, (2) a browser extension, and (3) the extension from the browser. It really just doesn't make any sense. – toto_tico Feb 10 '20 at 8:26
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    @toto_tico It's not though, that's one way to do it. You can simply install an extension by a single button click via the Ubuntu Software application: i.stack.imgur.com/5C4uN.png – pomsky Feb 10 '20 at 8:42

I tried Workspace Grid extension and an error occurred during the installation. After that, the workspace (properly configurated) remained vertical and keybindings were working as if there were a grid 🤯. I just removed the extension (manually) and installed Workspace Matrix and everything worked OK in my Gnome 3.34.1, under Manjaro 18.1.3.

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