Please bear with me as I am still figuring out how to use gnome-shell. My question concerns how to use the integrated chat correctly. I have the following questions:

1) When people chat with me, it pops up as a notification on the hidden bar at the bottom of the screen, and then that chat stays there so I can access it later. How do I initiate a chat in this manner, without opening an empathy window? What I have been doing is

  • Hitting super key
  • Typing in the person's name, which brings up contacts
  • Initiate the chat using empathy
  • Immediately close the chat window
  • When the person responds, it comes through as a notification. I then proceed to interact with the chat this way.

2) What is the keyboard shortcut for bringing up the notifications bar? Ideally, I would like to have the following experience

  • Use some keyboard shortcut to bring up notifications
  • Begin typing the name of the notification that I wish to investigate, and have the matching work in a fuzzy manner, much like Ido mode's buffer switching matching in Emacs
  • When then right name is matched, I hit enter and then bring up the chat with that person as that popup notification.

Are these behaviours supported? If not, I would be happy to work on implementing them. I am an experienced programmer, but not familiar with gnome-shell. If someone would point me in the right direction in terms of if this behaviour is supported, or where in the gnome-shell framework would I add to to get this behaviour, I would really appreciate it.


  • 1) You can't Initiate a Chat through the Notification window, it just Notifies you of that. 2) There is no keyboard shortcut to bring the up the Notification window. – Uri Herrera Dec 16 '11 at 19:24
  • It could possibly support that through the use of an extension. – Uri Herrera Dec 16 '11 at 19:24
  • 2
    I do not think there is a "right way", I think the integration is a new feature, sometimes buggy, sometimes clunky, but generally improving. There was a time when empathy would not connect to freenode =) File a feature request with gnome. – Panther Dec 17 '11 at 17:49

Keyboard shortcuts can be set in system settings > keyboard > shortcuts.

By default Super+M shows the notification bar.

In addition I've set Ctrl+Alt+E to show me the empathy main window. To do so click on the plus sign and enter empathy as name and command, click apply, then click on "deactivated" in the list and hit your short cut.


These behaviours are not supported.

I would suggest taking a look at the following:


I am also looking for a way of doing so (initiating a chat as a gnome-shell notification, as it is simply more consistent with the rest of the GUI) but what's more, I hate move my hand away from keyboard. This is what I came up with (bear with me):

  1. Start to open overview,
  2. type chat if you wish to restrict search to contacts with assigned IM,
  3. continue typing until you find the actual contact,
  4. Enter to open contact's details,
  5. Tab, Tab to select the right icon (a comic book chat something)
  6. Space when it's selected to open Empathy conversation (notification should open as well, there's just no visual indicator it did open),
  7. Alt+F4 to close contact's details, Empathy conversation should become active automatically,
  8. Alt+Space then N to minimize the conversation window,
  9. Super+M to activate notification bar,
  10. message notification should be selected, use arrow keys if it isn't, then Space or Enter to reply.

The only two things to do now is to find a shorter way and to completely hide the Empathy conversation window (it's only minimized so it still displays in overview).

If it doesn't work for you, please, comment so I could figure out how come it does work for me and share the exact plugin name or whatever (although I don't use anything for this particular purpose).

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