Many 3rd party applications like Java, NodeWebkit, and Gtk2 applications don't seem to be able to display a system tray icon. Why is that? Is there a workaround?


elementary OS does not support GtkStatusIcon (commonly referred to as system tray), and will drop support for the Ayatana Indicator API in the next release.

GtkStatusIcon (the old API for apps to place icons in the panel) has been deprecated since 2014 and is not implemented in elementary OS. Please file a report with application developers that are still using this API requesting that they make their app function without it.

I'm a developer and I want to implement this feature.

Currently (in 0.3 Freya), only the Ayatana Indicator API is respected. However, as of 0.4 Loki, the panel will no longer implement the Ayatana API either. It is recommended in the elementary HIG that apps not explicitly use the indicator area at all.

If you're developing a music app, your app will automatically show in the sound indicator as long as it can be controlled through MPRIS.

If your app sends notifications, missed notifications will automatically be preserved in the notifications indicator (as of 0.4 Loki).

If you want to present easily accessible actions while your app is closed or not running, follow the freedesktop.org actions specification.

How can I work around this?

Try installing sni-qt. This works for some apps:

sudo apt-get install sni-qt

Another option is to install a panel that supports this old API like xfce4-panel.

  • How should one call the area where other applications have an icon when started, which behaves just like a tray icon? Example here. – user170 Mar 12 '16 at 19:41
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    @cipricus "System tray" refers specifically to the GtkStatusIcon API. The apps in your screenshot are using the Ayatana Indicator API (usually called "app indicators"), which is similar but not specifically what is called the "system tray". – Daniel Foré Apr 13 '16 at 16:13

To get Slack and other apps to show a system tray-like icon in Wingpanel you have to update the apps .desktop file and add env XDG_CURRENT_DESKTOP=Unity to the start of the Exec key. Using Slack as an example (this works with every app I tried it on that has a system tray icon) we would do the following:

sudo nano /usr/share/applications/slack.desktop

Change the Exec key from: Exec=/usr/bin/slack --disable-gpu %U

to: Exec=env XDG_CURRENT_DESKTOP=Unity /usr/bin/slack --disable-gpu %U

  • Do you have idea how to put Wine System Tray into Wingpanel? – Michał Rowicki Mar 29 '17 at 23:48
  • Rocco, In my Freya slack icon appears in wingpanel in either form of a Exec=(with or without env etc) and it looks relativelly big. Maybe you know how to get rid of it or at least change its size? – daGo Oct 7 '17 at 6:16
  • daGo, I unfortunately do not have a copy of Freya on hand to help debug, but you might find some luck editing the /usr/share/themes/elementary/gtk-3.0/apps.css, /usr/share/themes/elementary/gtk-3.0/gtk-widgets.css (under Panel in .panel or .composited-indicator, or /usr/share/icons/elementary/index.theme file. Hopefully you find what you are looking for there. Good luck! – Rocco Augusto Oct 9 '17 at 3:09

Install Trayer, a GTK2 tray application:

sudo apt install trayer

and then add a command similar to this to your session:

trayer --expand false --SetDockType false --widthtype pixel --width 200 --align right --iconspacing 15

As is typical:

trayer --help

for parameter help.

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