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This is a GNOME shell extension that reduces the horizontal spacing between status area icons (top-right of the panel: volume indicator, etc). (Tested in GNOME 3.2, 3.4, 3.6, 3.8).

Status area before (default 12px hpadding):

original (12px padding)

Status area after (6px hpadding):

after with 6px padding

Installation

One-click install from extensions.gnome.org: link here.

Manual install: download the files (go to 'Downloads' and select the zip file). Start gnome-tweak-tool and select 'Shell Extensions > Install Shell Extension > (zip file you just downloaded)'.

Configuring

GNOME 3.2

Edit extension.js and change the line:

const HPADDING = 6;

to whatever spacing you want. The original GNOME-shell value is 12px, and the default for this plugin is 6px. At least 6px is recommended.

GNOME 3.4+

You can configure it via the extensions.gnome.org website, or using the gnome-shell-extension-prefs command.

Alternatives

If you do not want to use the extension, you can modify /usr/share/gnome-shell/theme/gnome-shell.css: change the -natural-hpadding property of .panel-button, i.e.:

.panel-button {
    -natural-hpadding: 12px;

could become

.panel-button {
    -natural-hpadding: 6px;

to change the padding to 6 pixels. If you change this below 6 pixels, you will also have to modify the -minimum-hpadding value to accommodate it.

However this will be lost every time you change themes, upgrade gnome-shell, etc.

Developers

Branches are as follows:

  • 'default' branch is for development.
  • 'gnome3.2' branch is for GNOME 3.2. Configure it by editing extension.js.
  • 'gnome3.4' branch is for GNOME 3.4+ (3.6, 3.8) Configure using gnome-shell-extension-prefs.
  • 'stable' branch: obsolete (renamed to 'gnome3.2').

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