I'm using Ubuntu Gnome 14.04 which is using gnome shell 3.10.4. I installed workrave through the terminal and the first time it launched the small window with the countdown timer displayed and it worked as it should. I closed the window and from then on I could never get it displayed again. I did an uninstall/reinstall, but that didn't work, and I also found out that the applet for workrave doesn't work in gnome shell. In the tweak tool settings under extensions the workrave option is greyed out and has a triangle warning sign.

The program can still be launched and works, but I can't set up my preferences because there's no window for me to interact with. Is there a way to bring back the workrave window so I can change my preferences?


Alright, so I happened upon the solution by playing around with the tweak tool. Basically you have to find the applet icon by turning on some non-default settings.

  1. Open Tweak Tool
  2. Go to Extension
  3. Turn on the Window list extension

Now there should be a tool bar at the bottom of the screen that displays all active apps. In the bottom right corner there should be a circle with a number in it , click on it and you should see the workrave applet icon (workrave needs to already be running).

After I set up my workrave preferences I just turned off window list.

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  • 3
    I don't think this approach works anymore. I'm on Ubuntu 14.04.3 and I can't see "Window List Extension" on that "Extension" page of the Gnome Tweak tool – Rory Jan 10 '16 at 11:33
  • I followed this approach on 18.04 except that step 3 was to turn on the Workrave extension itself, at which point Workrave appeared on the top bar. – Sam Jul 8 '19 at 12:03

I tried this for XFCE, maybe workrave just doesn't work with gnome shell?

I tried installing a version of workrave directly from a single .deb file, but may not have installed everything it needed. It didn't make any program menu entires so I started it from a terminal also, and right-clicking on the icons didn't seem to work.

Just now I installed workrave from Synaptic (should be the same as apt-get install workrave ) and it installed 3 packages, had a programs menu entry, and right click shows preferences and settings, seems to work ok? Maybe yours installed strangely? Or as above, maybe it doesn't like gnome shell...

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It started working (preferences and everything can be changed now finally) for me probably after I did this on ubuntu 14.04.

 $ sudo apt-get build essential 

and then it said I had to remove the redundant files.

 $ sudo apt-get remove autoremove

or probably because of the following :

I installed tweak tool, didn't find any of the things mentioned above by thorin and then just removed it and restarted it.

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