Ade Malsasa Akbar contact
Senior author, Open Source enthusiast.
Saturday, July 11, 2015 at 14:38

This guide will show you how to use elementary OS Pantheon desktop. Pantheon is default desktop in elementary OS. After our first guide for GNOME 3, this second guide is intended for beginner in elementary OS (especially ex. Windows users). You will learn how to use Pantheon for daily usage. You won't learn any technical or historical side of Pantheon. You will just work with it. I use elementary OS 2 Luna here.



Pantheon anatomy is basically GNOME 3 but Pantheon is simpler. You find only 5 main components here.
  1. Menu. Can be accessed by Win + Space or click.
  2. Time. Calendar and current time.
  3. System tray.
  4. Dock. Elementary's dock is called Plank.
  5. Workspaces. Elementary's workspace switcher is placed on the bottom.


If you were using Windows before, there are concepts you should get before you use Pantheon.

  • Pantheon usage is basically focused on top panel and bottom dock.
  • Pantheon designed in similar visual appearance with Mac OS X desktop, not Windows.
  • Pantheon has bottom dock by default, to replace Windows taskbar panel.
  • Pantheon has no bottom taskbar, same with Mac OS X, different with Windows.
  • Pantheon has multiple desktop (or multiple workspace), same with Mac OS X, different with Windows.
  • You see your running applications by seeing on the dock.

Launch Apps


You access your app by menu or by bottom dock (similar with GNOME 3). You open the menu by Win + Space or clicking Applications label on top panel. You open an app from bottom dock by single-clicking its icon.

Create A Shortcut


Open an app, right-click on its icon when running, select Keep in Dock. That app icon will stay on the bottom dock. Pantheon is not Windows, so it has its own way to create desktop shortcut.

Multiple Desktop


You can switch workspace by pressing Win + S. Pantheon workspaces is placed at the bottom, similar with right panel for workspaces in GNOME.

Work with Workspaces


When opening workspace switcher (Win + S), app icons will appear on the bottom of every workspace box. To move an app to another workspace, drag the icon to another workspace box. See picture above.

Spread Windows


To see window overview, press Win + W. It is similar with Mac OS X Expose.



To switch between running windows, press Alt + Tab. Switching will use bottom dock as window indicator representation.



Pantheon will show you a nice popup in top-left corner every a notification is given by an app.

System Tray


Pantheon system tray is placed on top panel. It is similar with Mac OS X tray. Any tray app such as Telegram will also placed there.