How to add Application Icons on the Desktop in Ubuntu Linux

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The article explains the process of adding application icons to the desktop in Ubuntu Linux, a task which is not straightforward. This is achieved by locating the .desktop file for the desired application in specific directories and then copying it to the “Desktop” folder in the Home directory. Once pasted, users must grant launching permissions…

This article describes the steps to add application icons on the desktop in Ubuntu Linux.

A typical Ubuntu desktop will come with a single (Personal) folder icon on the desktop after installation. Computers running Ubuntu usually have clean and simple desktops with no or very few icons.

Adding icons to the desktop on Ubuntu Linux is not so simple. There is also no easy way to add an icon from the Application overview to your desktop.

Mose applications that are installed on Ubuntu Linux will typically have their desktop icon files ending with an extension .desktop in the below directories:

  • /usr/share/applications for APT applications
  • /var/lib/snapd/desktop/applications for Snap packages

To get any application icon from the directories above on your desktop, you must find the .desktop file of the application and copy it to your “Desktop” folder in your home directory.

Add desktop icons to the desktop on Ubuntu Linux.

As described above, Ubuntu Linux doesn’t make it as easy as Windows to get an application icon on the desktop. No simple shortcuts or easy ways to do it.

If you start with Ubuntu, the steps below will help you add icons to your desktop.

First, you will need to find the application desktop icon. It will typically end with a .desktop extension.

Most application desktop icons are installed in the location below:

  • /usr/share/applications for APT applications
  • /var/lib/snapd/desktop/applications for Snap packages

To get an icon on the desktop, Files (or File Manager).

When the Files or File Manager opens, browse to either of the locations above to find the icon you want to copy to your Desktop folder.

For example, navigate to the application location and select the “Firefox. desktop” icon.

ubuntu linux copy firefox icon to the desktop
ubuntu Linux copies the Firefox icon to the desktop

There are multiple ways to copy a file on Ubuntu Linux.

Please select the file you want to copy by clicking on it once. Right-click and pick Copy or press CTRL + C.

ubuntu linux copy firefox icon to the desktop copy file
ubuntu Linux copies the Firefox icon to the desktop copy file

Once you have copied the desktop icon, go to your Home directory and select the Desktop folder.

ubuntu linux copy firefox icon to the desktop paste file
ubuntu Linux copy the Firefox icon to the desktop and paste the file

Click the menu option, pick Paste to finish copying the file, or press CTRL + V. 

ubuntu linux copy firefox icon to the desktop paste file to destination
ubuntu Linux copy the Firefox icon to the desktop and paste the file to the destination

Finally, switch to your desktop, right-click the icon, and select Allow Launching on the context menu, as highlighted below.

ubuntu linux copy firefox icon to the desktop allow launching on desktop
ubuntu Linux copies the Firefox icon to the desktop allows launching on the desktop

It would be best to have a Firefox desktop icon in Ubuntu Linux. Do this for other application icons you want to show on the desktop.

firefox icon on the desktop ubuntu
firefox icon on the desktop Ubuntu

That should do it!

Conclusion:

This post showed you how to add application icons on the desktop in Ubuntu Linux. Please use the comment form below if you find any errors above or have something to add.

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