How to Remove the Messaging Menu (indicator) in Ubuntu’s Unity Desktop ?

If you use Ubuntu’s Unity desktop, then you must have noticed the small mail-icon that’s displayed on the top menu-bar (to the right side). It’s real name is “indicator-messages” and is sort of a simple “command center” that lets you control some of the functions of Gwibber (microblogging client), Empathy (the default chat client) and few other internet-messaging related applications that come with Ubuntu.

For instance, you can set-up your e-mail account via Thunderbird and when you have new mails, it’ll display small and somewhat less distracting notifications. Or, you can change your online “status” (available, invisible, away etc) of some of the chat clients using this indicator-menu. So yes, it is a handy feature.

However, like me, if you too don’t use these programs, then by removing the “indicator-messages” package, can benefit you in two ways.

First of all, it kinda help to simplify/unclutter the top menu bar. And secondly (most importantly), even if you don’t use it, still, “indicator-messages” runs as an OS service (from the background) consuming your PC’s resources (memory and occasional CPU wake-ups). And in my Ubuntu 12.04 PC, it used about 1.7MB of RAM.

If you don’t use it, then perhaps you’re better off without it ;-).

Wanna get rid of this ? …

To get rid of it, enter the below command in your Terminal window (should work in Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal, 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot, 12.04 Precise Pangolin).

sudo apt-get autoremove indicator-messages

For the changes to take effect, logout and re-login. But I think it’s better to restart the PC, so the background process will be fully removed from the system.


Ho to get it back?

Well, once you’ve removed it, you can never have it back, unless you re-install Ubuntu! (kidding :D).

If you want it back, then simply enter the below command to re-install it.

sudo apt-get install indicator-messages

Make sure to logout and then re-login for the changes to take effect. That’s it!.

An RHCE, 'Linux' user with 14+ years of experience. Extreme lover of Linux and FOSS. He is passionate to test every Linux distribution & compare with the previous release to write in-depth articles to help the FOSS community.

17 thoughts on “How to Remove the Messaging Menu (indicator) in Ubuntu’s Unity Desktop ?”

  1. Hello,

    how can I
    ONLY remove the statuses Available… Offline
    BUT keep the envelope since I use the notification with unity-mail?


    • Hi ‘Thomas’,

      I don’t have a lot of experience with ‘indicator-messages’ (obviously, that’s why wanted to remove it, LOL), however, according to this official ‘indicator-message WiKi page, those menu items (available, away, busy …) will only go away if there are no chat clients associated with ‘indicator-messages’.

      By default, Ubuntu comes with ‘Empathy’ & ‘Gwibber’, and as they are assigned with ‘indicator-messages’, ‘Available, Away, Busy …’ menu items appear.

      So the only way to remove those menu items is to ‘blacklist’ (again, according to that WiKi page) those programs, in a certain configuration file of ‘indicator-messages’.

      I don’t know if this will do the trick, as for somereason in Ubuntu 12.10, the ‘indicator-messages’ doesn’t appear in my computer by default (oh well, great!!) but you can try the below trick.

      But please remember, if you use any of those tools (‘Empathy’, ‘Gwibber’), or any other messaging client, then unless you disable the ‘indicator-messages’ integration from the chat clients individually, you cannot remove those menu items.

      Anyway, here it goes …

      Step 1:

      Open your Terminal window and enter the below command.

      mkdir -p ~/.config/indicators/messages/applications-blacklist/

      Step 2:

      Now enter the below command.

      cp /usr/share/indicators/messages/applications/empathy gwibber.indicator ~/.config/indicators/messages/applications-blacklist/

      Then restart your computer, and if those were the only chat apps that you had, then those menu items might be disabled from now on. Hope this helps.

      If you encounter any issues, just throw in a comment. Good luck.

  2. Hello Gayan,

    thanks for your answer (one year ago already).

    Unfortunately your hint didn’t work out for me.
    I have no Gwibber and no Empathy installed at all.
    I have Unity Mail running as start up application which indicator is below the chat statuses.
    Maybe this is the reason why it didn’t work out for me.
    The chat statuses are still there – even after reboot.



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