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Having just upgraded from 10.04 to 11.04, I'm getting used to the Unity interface.

Back in Gnome, I managed to create a "common" menu accessible from the start button to which I could simply add *.desktop files to get all my common things in there?

Is there a way to do this in Unity? What I'm looking for is a single icon in the launcher which, when clicked, gives me a menu which can start my most common applications like:

  • firefox.
  • thunderbird.
  • a couple of different VMWare images.
  • a couple of common directories (nautilus file manager).
  • a maximised terminal.
  • my backup script.
  • brasero, gcalctool, eclipse and others.

The idea of putting all my apps in the launcher is not too appealing to me since it may expand beyond the screen height, even with my reduced icon size.

By judicious use of the desktop files (some standard, some self-made), I managed to get all this going in Gnome but I'm having troubles figuring out the new setup.

In addition, the icons for all my VMWare images are identical in the Unity launcher whereas Gnome allowed textual descriptions. Can this be changed at the top level or, preferably, in the sub-menu I'm looking for?

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And is there some reason why a ubuntu tag doesn't exist? Coming from SO with a rather large rep, I'm not used to being told I can't create tags :-) If someone could add that tag, that would be good. – paxdiablo Aug 5 '11 at 11:53
@Paxdiable The reason the Ubuntu tag doesn't exist is because this site is entirely about Ubuntu - so the Ubuntu tag would be redundant. :) – James Aug 5 '11 at 13:21
Boy, do I feel stupid now? :-) – paxdiablo Aug 5 '11 at 14:00
up vote 1 down vote accepted

It's fairly easy to add entries to the right-click menu for launcher tiles and I know it's been answered here somewhere, but I couldn't find it. But these are the basic steps:

Look for a string similar to this one in a desktop-file for the tile you wish to edit: X-Ayatana-Desktop-Shortcuts=NewWindow;

If you can't find it, create it. For each shortcut, add the following:

[pick_a_name Shortcut Group]
Exec=command to execute

Add each group you add to the X-Ayatana-Desktop-Shortcuts string, separated by semicolons. For instance, if you want to add web shortcuts to the Firefox icon (you should already have the NewWindow group defined, and it's a long entry so I'm omitting it):


[xkcd Shortcut Group]
Exec=firefox --new-tab

[Google Shortcut Group]
Exec=firefox --new-tab

[AskUbuntu Shortcut Group]
Exec=firefox --new-tab ""

I don't remember if you have to log out and back in for the changes to work. You might. But otherwise, you should now have some links if you right-click the Firefox icon on your launcher. And obviously, you can use any command in the Exec item.

There are a bunch of community-made launchers here you can adapt:

Have fun! :)

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