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I downloaded some games from the humblebundle, but most of them don't have deb files. They run fine after extracting them and double clicking on the executable, but unity doesn't automatically find them so I can't search for them, or add them to the side bar.

I tried to drag the executable onto the side bar, but it just dimmed and didn't do anything once I dropped it. I also tried to right-click on the executable in and clicked on "Make Link", but I couldn't drop that onto the side bar either.

I would prefer a solution that does not require using the terminal or editing configuration files by hand if possible.

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Did you try creating a a launcher for them. Right click on the Desktop~

Making a Launcher

This is the way to have it on Desktop.

If you want to add it to the launcher just right click on the Item and choose Keep in Launcher

I hope this helps. I haven't tried out the Humble Game Bundle but it works for Eclipse since Eclipse is also a executable file that cannot be searched from Unity Search

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I just tried that, but unfortunately it does not work. An icon appears on the desktop, but double clicking it does nothing. Also the games are full screen so I cannot see the Launcher, and therefore cannot right click on them when the games are running. – waspinator Jul 30 '11 at 17:40
Did try alt+tab to switch to a different program and getting the launcher up so that you'll be able to opt the option in launcher which states - "Keep in Launcher"? – Chan Jul 31 '11 at 4:05
I tried that, but the game won't start after you exit and click launcher item. – waspinator Jul 31 '11 at 17:56

You can install most from the Software Center. There is an orange button on the bundle page on the website of Humble Bundle. The link is in your mail.

Otherwise editing manually is the easiest option. Don't be to afraid of the terminal.

An example can be found here: add-icons-to-dash-menu-from-programs

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