How to add apps to desktop on gnome?

i can only add files to my desktop, i dont know how to add apps from the softwere manager

The app launchers are just .desktop files. You can get them from /usr/share/applications (might be wrong path, did not check. Could also be /etc/xdg/something) or make your own.


after i add them to the desktop folder, they dont actually appear in the desktop itself. dragging them to the desktop doesnt work either

Applications that you have installed in Linux will usually go into the following locations.

  • /usr/bin/
  • /usr/local/bin/

However, in order to tell the launcher or the dash, it will create files called as Desktop files. These are just text files which describes what the program does, its icon file and what command to run when you open the application.

These application files are usually placed in the following directories.

  • /usr/share/applications/
  • /home/$USER/.local/share/applications/

This structure allows you to override the desktop files for your user (I do some to prepend prime-run to the command of the app for example).

So search for the appropriate .desktop file in one of those directories for your application and then create a link to it from your desktop.

ln -s /usr/share/applications/firefox.desktop ~/Desktop/Firefox

or if you have overriden it like me, do

ln -s /home/$USER/.local/share/applications/firefox.desktop ~/Desktop/Firefox

And you should see your icon.

Quick tip: You can press Ctrl+Alt+T to quickly launch terminal in many default configurations unless you have changed something.

And btw, I was of the opinion that desktop icons are pretty old concept and usually just rely on the launcher. Just press the super key and type the app name and enter. That’s a lot better than cluttering your desktop with icons.