Ubuntu’s sound menu contains Rhythmbox by default. Any other media players you install will also appear in the menu, assuming they support the MPRIS2 specification. You can hide media players in the menu or add any application you like.

Media players you add won’t have integrated playback controls, but you can easily launch them from the sound menu. You can add any application’s shortcut to the sound menu, as long as the application has a desktop file.

Graphical Method

The easiest way to modify your sound menu is with graphically, with the dconf-editor application. It isn’t installed by default — search for dconf in Ubuntu’s Software Center to install it.

You can also do this with the gsettings terminal command included with Ubuntu — see the last section for instructions.

Launch dconf-editor from the Dash after installing it.

Navigate to the com/canonical/indicator/sound section in the dconf-editor window.

The interested-media-players setting contains a list of applications that will appear in the menu. The blacklisted-media-players setting can override the list of interested media players — blacklisted media players won’t appear in the menu, even if they’re in the list of interested media players.

For example, if you wanted to hide Rhythmbox from the menu, you could change the value of blacklisted-media-players to [‘rhythmbox’].

If you wanted to add VLC and Clementine to the sound menu, assuming they’re installed, you could change the value of interested-media-players to [‘rhythmbox’,’vlc’,’clementine’].

A few quick notes:

  • Each value must contain the name of each application’s desktop file, not the application’s command itself. For example, vlc points to the vlc.desktop file that represents the application.
  • You can add any application with a .desktop file to the menu. Want to add your web browser to the list? Go ahead.

Your changes won’t appear until you log out and log back in.

Terminal Method

The gsettings get and gsettings set commands allow you to view and manage these settings from a terminal.

Use the gsettings get command to view one of the values:

gsettings get com.canonical.indicator.sound interested-media-players
gsettings get com.canonical.indicator.sound blacklisted-media-players

Use the gsettings set command to set the values. This command adds Rhythmbox to the blacklist, hiding it:

gsettings set com.canonical.indicator.sound blacklisted-media-players “[‘rhythmbox’]”

This command adds VLC and Amarok to the sound menu:

gsettings set com.canonical.indicator.sound interested-media-players “[‘rhythmbox’, ‘vlc’, ‘amarok’]”

Remember to log out and log back in after running these commands.

Profile Photo for Chris Hoffman Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times and Reader's Digest, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than one billion times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
Read Full Bio »