This is standard behaviour of all desktop messengers (Skype, Viber, Telegram, ..). All of them minimizes itself in system tray when Alt+F4 or close button is activated and they are running in background (instead of closing completely).

How can I force Signal messenger to behave the same way?

  • 1
    If you're trying to do the same thing on Windows, check out Super User's How do I minimize Signal to the system tray on Windows? (adding this pointer because this question is ranking high for Windows search queries).
    – Caspar
    Jun 21, 2020 at 17:24
  • I wonder why none of the answers are accepted by the OP. Are they all crap?
    – kanehekili
    Jan 12, 2023 at 23:12

6 Answers 6


Jiří Doubravský solution worked for Gnome on Ubuntu 19.04.

Add --use-tray-icon option inside the Exec line in /usr/share/applications/signal-desktop.desktop from:

Exec=/opt/Signal/signal-desktop --no-sandbox %U


Exec=/opt/Signal/signal-desktop --use-tray-icon --no-sandbox %U

Restarted Signal a couple times and the tray icon shows up. Strange that this isn't enabled by default.

  • I'm using a different Linux (Peppermint 10), but I thought I'd tell people that this doesn't work for me. "Cannot read property 'isVisible' of undefined" Mar 27, 2020 at 9:48
  • 5
    Works for me on Ubuntu 20.04, as well. Thanks!
    – BR123
    Oct 18, 2020 at 18:46
  • 1
    Isn't --no-sandbox a bad option to put there? (exploitation easier?)
    – Edw590
    Mar 21, 2021 at 14:47
  • 1
    This did not work for me, but --start-in-tray did. May 23, 2021 at 11:09
  • 3
    Instead of editing the desktop file installed by the package, which will get overwritten with updates, I copy the file from /usr/share/applications to ~/.local/share/applications, edit it there and run kbuildsycoca5 (to refresh the list or programs in KDE Plasma).
    – piit79
    Sep 4, 2022 at 20:35

You can use optional arguments to start the application

--start-in-tray and/or --use-tray-icon

Startup launcher: Add both arguments.

Desktop launcher icon: Add just the second one argument. In menulibre, search for "Signal" and change command from "/opt/Signal/signal-desktop" %U to "/opt/Signal/signal-desktop" --use-tray-icon %U

source: https://github.com/signalapp/Signal-Desktop/issues/2911#issuecomment-439545459

  • doesn't work...
    – Pa_
    May 27, 2019 at 16:36
  • 2
    ... it probably does not work if you install Signal using Snap... just use sudo apt install signal-desktop instead Jun 3, 2019 at 7:40

A one-liner. Personally I have this saved on my desktop since Signal updates seem to to remove it.

sudo sed -i 's/signal-desktop --no-sandbox %U/signal-desktop --use-tray-icon --no-sandbox %U/g' /usr/share/applications/signal-desktop.desktop

sed is find and replace matching signal-desktop --no-sandbox %U and replacing with signal-desktop --use-tray-icon --no-sandbox %U

  • I use ~/.local/share/applications/ location for .desktop files, as this allows using Activites overview for launching modified apps.
    – qba-dev
    Sep 1, 2023 at 20:04

I propose building onto robmsmt's one-liner to account for different launch options I've encountered in the wild (without --no-sandbox, with lowercase %u, and 'empty' option --), probably depending on Signal version and/or distro used.

sed -i '/^Exec/ {/--use-tray-icon/ !s/$/ --use-tray-icon/}' /usr/share/applications/signal-desktop.desktop (Needs sudo)

This will match a line starting with Exec and appending --use-tray-icon to the end of that line unless the line already contains --use-tray-icon.

I previously suggested using incron to automatically run such script when the desktop file is modified, but sadly upon closer inspection it didn't actually work as the files are not really modified but completely replaced during an upgrade. I didn't manage to get incron to work with that, but you might want to take a look if you're interested and more savvy. It should be safe though to run that script as a good 'ol cron job as root (sudo crontab -e) e.g. at reboot (adding @reboot script.sh to the table). It obviously doesn't take effect immediately after Signal upgrade, but will have to suffice until I figure out what's up with incron.


To do this for the flatpak version of Signal use flatseal. With flatseal you can easily edit this flatpaks environment variables:


Set them to 1 to accomplish setting of above mentioned flags. Editing the flatpaks desktop file did not work for me.


Instead of editing a root owned file that gets overwritten when the package manager installs a new version of signal-desktop, I recommend to create a custom .desktop file in your home folder, and add the --use-tray-icon flag there. The local user-specific .desktop files should automatically take precedence over the system-wide file.

mkdir -p ~/.local/share/applications/
cp /usr/share/applications/signal-desktop.desktop ~/.local/share/applications/signal-desktop.desktop
sed -i 's/Exec=signal-desktop /Exec=signal-desktop --use-tray-icon /' ~/.local/share/applications/signal-desktop.desktop

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