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In Ubuntu 11.04, files in /home/user/Desktop appear as icons on the desktop. It seems that they do not under GNOME 3 using GNOME Shell (for example on Fedora 15). How do I configure that?

Update: They do appear by default in 11.10, under both Unity shell and GNOME shell.

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up vote 12 down vote accepted

The easiest way to enable desktop icons is to use Gnome Tweak Tool. Run sudo apt-get install gnome-tweak-tool, then launch Gnome Tweak Tool from the Gnome Shell menu. It will be called Advanced Settings.

enter image description here

Then, click on the Desktop button. Enable the option that says "Have file manager handle the desktop. Now, any files placed in the Desktop folder inside your home folder should appear on ther desktop.

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It can be reversed in gnome3 so if this is implemented the same should be true.

Where are my icons on the desktop?

They are gone, it’s by design. But you can reenable them with:

gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.background show-desktop-icons true

and starting nautilus (if it’s not already running). (Thanks to bronte for the information)


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Thanks for note about (re)starting Nautilus, I needed it :-). – pevik Nov 11 '15 at 12:17

Run this command in your terminal (Applications > Accessories > Terminal):

# show files on desktop
gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.background show-desktop-icons true

# show shares on desktop
gsettings set org.gnome.nautilus.desktop volumes-visible true

# restart nautilus
nautilus -q
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The nautilus -q command just quits nautilus. So afterwards, press Alt+F2, enter nautilus and hit enter to start it again, at which point the desktop icons will become visible (again). – tanius Sep 14 '13 at 13:50

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