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Now I am a new convert from Windows to Ubuntu and I really like what I am seeing, however being a newbie I cant seem to figure out how to create a "launcher" on the desktop. I know that you right click and then select "create launcher"; what I dont know is the command that I need to use or indeed where to browse to the application (Evolution Mail for example) or where to learn the commands from.

If someone could help this newbie out I would appreciate it!


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When you 'Browse' for an application, you can select any executable file. Almost all applications have their executable file in the folder /usr/bin, so navigate to there. Evolution, for example, has the executable file called 'evolution' in the /usr/bin folder, so select this.


You can then edit the name for the launcher, the comment and the icon to use. Normally it is clever enough to choose the icon for you but if not, icons are generally stored in /usr/share/pixmaps.

edit launcher

Another way to find out the commands to use is to use the 'Main Menu' program which edits the Applications, Places, System menus for Ubuntu Classic (GNOME 2.x).

launch 'Main Menu'

Once launched, navigate to the application you want to find the command for and click properties.

main menu

You can then look at the command for that application. You can use this command when creating your own launcher.

launcher properties

There is another method you can use for pre existing applications. Open up a file manager and navigate to /usr/share/applications then right click on the launcher you want and select Copy to -> Desktop.

copy to desktop

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I usually open up the Terminal, enter the first few characters of the application and then press tab for autocomplete suggestions.

Once you find the command you can use the whereis command to get its location. Here's a quick example:

whereis ls

If you don't want to use the terminal you can search for the command in Nautilus. Installed applications are usually in one of these folders:

  • /usr/bin
  • /usr/local/bin
  • /usr/sbin
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That's an excellent question. Putting launchers on the desktop is not something I generally do, and I don't think it's something other developers generally do, and it seems to have been neglected.

The first thing I tried was to try to drag a launcher from the Applications lens (found in the launcher dock on the left). However, that failed with an error message (I've filed this bug about that).

Probably the best thing to do would be to open the file manager and copy one of the existing launchers onto the desktop. You can find them in File System→usr→share→applications.

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