What is the optimal Navigator configuration?

What is the best way to set up the Navigator splitbar?

Appended are my subjective opinions. I’d appreciate any responses with your observations & opinions.

When a beginner with Gramps, I used the default Navigator Category mode with the Show text label beside Navigator Buttons enabled in the Display Preferences. And adding Toolbar text labels is one of the key features of the Themes add-on.

After becoming familiar with the icons, it is good to turn off the labels – this adds a few more characters to the Main view display area.

It was an annoyance that the Navigator selection mode selector did not ‘iconify’ when the other Navigator labels are turned off. So the selector text label widths continued to constrain how narrow the Navigator sidebar could become. Eventually, it was shared that this selector could be hidden using the Plugin Manager to hide the 2 unused Navigator selection modes. Once you decide on your preferred Navigator mode, you can reduce the Navigator minimum width constraint. (Thanks @DaveSch !)

The default is the (Category) Navigator selection mode. It offers
switching only between view Categories. Note that the actual submode called by the button changes but is persistent… rather than a default submode, it recalls the most-recently-used submode.

The category selection mode is uncluttered & unintimidating. Good for not scaring away new users but not very efficient for an experienced user.


  • It does not provide access to changing the submode of the view Category. You have to use the Toolbar or View menu for that.

The Expander navigator selection mode is a Power User Selection Mode allowing the user to quickly jump between different submodes in different view categories without having to wait for interface contextual refreshes.

The drawbacks :

  • The buttons are tiny compared to the toolbar buttons (Probably to make more space available for the normally sized submode button shown when expanded.)
  • The top-level button is essentially non-functional. Is just makes the hotspot for the expand arrowhead larger.
  • The top button lacks the persistence of remembering the last mode
  • There is an expand necessary even when there is only one submode
  • When the label preference is off, add-on submode can be very ambiguous. These often use the same icon. So you have to use roll-over hints to identify the submode.

The Drop-Down navigator selection mode is another Power User Selection Mode for moving between submodes without waiting for interface contextual refreshes.

It is like the Category selection in that the submode associated with the top level button is persistent. That button recalls the most-recently-used submode. Because it is a menu rather than a vertical toolbar, the identifying labels for the submode are always displayed. The icons are merely a decoration.

The drawbacks :

  • The expand arrow is on the right in the navigator… too near to the active selection area of the main view. This makes touch-screen use a bit too fussy. When trying to click the Expand Node arrowhead in the main view, it is too easy to get the Navigator pop-up instead.
  • There is a lot of interface churning when switching between Categories & submode. One click to reveal the menu, delay while you re-orient yourself & then click on the submenu item.
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Why I like the Drop-Down (no labels) Navigator


As @emyoulation already pointed out, this only really works by hiding the other two sidebars in the Plugin Manager. This disables the category selector and loads only your preferred Navigator.

  • Selecting any of the main icons automatically takes you to the last selected view in the category. Category does this but using Drop-Down, selecting another view in the category can be done without first going to the category’s last view to select another view.

  • In Drop-Down, all the icons are large. Not so in the Expander. And unlike Expander, the top button takes you to the last viewed in the category.

Another tweak

To resort the order of the Navigator categories you can edit gramps.ini view-categories=[]. This edit needs to be done while Gramps is closed. Those with keen eyes may have noticed that I have moved some of the categories up and down. This type of hack does take getting used to a new click memory. Even though I wanted and made my changes, it took my mouse a little while to find the repositioned icons.


I’ve just tried that but when I start Gramps, it doesn’t change categories disposition. And when I close it, view-categories field come back to its initial state. What did I do wrong? Something else to change?

Default setting
;;view-categories=['Dashboard', 'People', 'Relationships', 'Families', 'Ancestry', 'Events', 'Places', 'Geography', 'Sources', 'Citations', 'Repositories', 'Media', 'Notes']

My modification
view-categories=['Dashboard', 'Relationships', 'People', 'Families', 'Ancestry', 'Places', 'Geography', 'Events', 'Media', 'Sources', 'Citations', 'Repositories', 'Notes']

Remember to delete the leading semicolons (;;)


Ah! Okay, I didn’t


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