When searching in gnome-shell, there are two buttons towards the bottom of the screen which can be used to search with Wikipedia and Google.

Is there any way to customise these? If, say, I wanted to replace the Google button with one for DuckDuckGo, how would I go about this?


2 Answers 2


Gnome-Shell search providers are described by XML files in the folder /usr/share/gnome-shell/search_providers

You will notice two XML files - google.xml and wikipedia.xml

Lets create a new search provider - copy the google.xml file as a template


sudo cp /usr/share/gnome-shell/search_providers/google.xml /usr/share/gnome-shell/search_providers/duckduckgo.xml


sudo cp /usr/share/gnome-shell/open-search-providers/google.xml /usr/share/gnome-shell/open-search-providers/duckduckgo.xml

Now lets open the file and change some details to search with duckduckgo:


sudo nano /usr/share/gnome-shell/search_providers/duckduckgo.xml


sudo nano /usr/share/gnome-shell/open-search-providers/duckduckgo.xml

Change the following XML tags:

<Description>DuckDuckGo Search</Description>
<Url type="text/html" method="GET" template="http://www.duckduckgo.com/?q={searchTerms}"/>

The only difficult part is finding out how a search engine searches - in duckduckgo I searched for something - you see in the title bar how the search provider adds its search terms

enter image description here

final result

enter image description here

In order to see the changes, you need to restart GNOME Shell by pressing Alt+F2, typing "r" and pressing enter.

Linked Questions:

  1. Is it possible to re-arrange the search providers on the GNOME Shell Activities Overview display?
  • Oh, wow! Thanks! The files are just OpenSearch plugins. I didn't realise it would be this easy. The big string of what looks like gobbledegook is in fact a copy of Google's favicon. I don't think GNOME uses it, but I replaced it with DDG's favicon just to be safe.
    – Josh
    Oct 26, 2011 at 21:48
  • This no longer seems to work with new shell. Even changing the folder to open-searchproviders. Alternatively you can use the extensions.gnome.org/extension/549/web-search-dialog not the same thing.
    – Andres
    Sep 22, 2013 at 8:45

In case someone's interested in removing all search engines from the overlay screen, user asermax has published the Disable Search extension at the GNOME Shell Extensions website. Check it out: https://extensions.gnome.org/extension/203/disable-search/

It must be noted that this extension also removes the search bar at the top right corner of the overlay screen.

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