This is a silly, nitpicky little thing, but I have a laptop with a less-than-desirable amount of screen real estate, so it bothers me. I've added a bunch of application launchers to the default panel at the top of my screen (to the right of the Applications/Places/System menus.) The problem is, I can't seem to control the spacing of the icons - I have quite a bit of space available at the right of the panel, and I can drag each individual icon over, but it seems like each icon is attached to its neighbor to the right. So I move one over, and the next one comes with it. Then I move that one, and the one to it's left comes too. The end result is I have several clumps of very-closely-clustered icons, with a lot of space between each clump.

Is there any way to control the spacing automatically? Snap to grid, auto-space, anything? Because my screen is tiny and resolution is pretty high, each icon is very small, and when they're so close together I sometimes end up clicking the wrong one.

I'm running Lucid, and am open to installing things if there's a package that would give me more control over the presentation. I'm also relatively new to Linux, so maybe there's a setting I'm missing somewhere in one of the preferences menus.

  • 3
    Could you add a screenshot to better demonstrate the issue at hand? – Marco Ceppi Oct 7 '10 at 15:41

You might be happier giving avant window navigator a try instead of the gnome panel for your launchers. I believe the setting to expand to fill a side spaces out the icons like you want.


Some of the Gnome panel icons, such as the indicator icon actually consist of several pieces that are attached. The process iIuse to set things up as I like is to right-click on all each of the icons to make sure it is not set to 'lock to panel'. After they're all unlocked, move a few of the icons out of the way on the side that you want to start positioning them on my right-clicking and selecting the 'move' menu option on them. Then, use the same process to move each icon into position in the right order, and with the amount of spacing you prefer. After you've got everything as you want it, set the 'lock to panel' on all of the icons.

I realize this is a manual process, but with the variable width of some of the icons I'm not sure it can be automated well.

  • I had an issue where my taskbar icons on were stuck in the laptop-screen positions on my external monitor. This solved it, so thanks! – cam8001 Feb 15 '11 at 11:02

I would agree with the first answer suggesting you use Avant-Window-Navigator as a replacement for your gnome-panel. AWN can be set up to look just like the gnome-panel and it now supports enough functions to be a complete replacement (e.g., gnomenu and other main menus, ubuntu indicator menus, gnome notification area, etc.). But it organizes your icons much, much better. Docky is, of course, more slick as far as dock visuals go (imho), but it still lacks some of the panel features (like good indicator support). Another nice feature (if visuals are important to you) is that AWN will space the notification area icons and the indicator-menu icons the same way. On the gnome-panel the notification icons always look bunched together too.


I can feel you on this one, it's bugged me quite frequently too. I'd say it's not really that nitpicky a thing. Arranging icons in a neat order - vista does it, XFCE does it, hell I think windows XP did it. Why not GNOME?

But: so:

The semi-solution I have found:

1. Gather all the icons / shortcuts that you want to be displayed on your desktop.

2. Cut and paste all these icons in a different folder. ie, /home/emmy/icons

3. Cut and paste these back onto your desktop.

Gnome should evenly space these out now.

If there's a certain order in which you want your icons listed, (aside from alphabetical order), you'll simply have to cut and paste back to desktop in chunks, in the order desired.

Make sense?

It's a hack solution, but gnome/nautilus does not/will not organize icons properly, as far as I know, and as long as you don't change the shorcuts around constantly you only have to do it once.

If you find a real solution to this, I would love to hear it!

  • 1
    i think she was talking about the panel. – myusuf3 Oct 8 '10 at 19:06
  • Doh! (forehead slap) >_< – emf Oct 10 '10 at 3:10

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