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How do you create a custom application launcher in Gnome Shell?

I have a local Eclipse installation that I'd like to be to quickly launch. So I created a symlink to the eclipse binary and placed it on my desktop. If I open a terminal, cd to ~/Desktop and run ./eclipse it starts Eclipse perfectly. However, if I click the Eclipse icon on my desktop, and choose run, nothing happens.

Alternatively, I wouldn't mind being able to search for Eclipse on the "Activities" screen, but I can't find any documentation on adding or registering custom applications.

6 Answers 6

123

Try to create a eclipse.desktop file under /usr/share/applications (or ~/.local/share/applications or directly in ~/Desktop) with the following content:

[Desktop Entry]
Encoding=UTF-8
Name=Eclipse IDE
Exec=/path/to/eclipse/executable
Icon=/path/to/eclipse/icon
Type=Application
Categories=Development;

You can choose another category, too. For additional information:

3
  • 9
    Thanks. The only problem I ran into, which the docs don't mention, is that the file has to be executable if you place it in ~/Desktop. Otherwise it just shows up as an ordinary text file and isn't launchable or rendered with the right icon.
    – Cerin
    Mar 12, 2012 at 17:35
  • 5
    You might find that you need to restart gnome3 for this to take effect, especially the icon. If so, run Alt+F2, type r in the box, and press enter.
    – mlissner
    Nov 18, 2015 at 23:33
  • 2
    Your application may require a working directory, use Path=/path/to/eclipse/working-dir.
    – psiphi75
    Apr 18, 2017 at 4:39
19

Although creating your own launcher by hand is a valid solution, my preferred one is to go through alacarte and create a new entry on the menus, then it will appear as a launcher.

4
  • 7
    Thanks, I could not believe my eyes that to add a simple entry in my modern Desktop environment, i needed to create a 10-lines text file in a hidden directory in my home folder, by hand. This should be the winning answer. Jul 6, 2017 at 22:45
  • Once you've created a new launcher in the menu, you can search for it in the activities screen and then drag it to your panel.
    – MathKid
    Jul 29, 2017 at 16:00
  • @CodeKid Yeah that's what I meant :)
    – m0skit0
    Jul 31, 2017 at 8:39
  • I've added a blog post on what is the exact name and how to use it.
    – kissu
    Nov 18, 2021 at 12:31
3

In newer Gnome versions Comment and Terminal sections become mandatory so minimal .desktop file is now:

[Desktop Entry]
Type=Application
Encoding=UTF-8
Name=Sample Application Name
Comment=A sample application
Exec=application
Icon=application.png
Terminal=false
2

If you want a list of custom launchers you can access from the panel you could use the MyLauncher extension. MyLauncher Gnome Shell Extension

1

The easiest way I have found to create launchers using a full-featured GUI is vie MenuLibre, which is in the Ubuntu repositories. It will hold your hand through the process and allow you to create a custom launcher in a fast and straightforward manner, as long as you know where your resources reside (binary location, icon location, working directories, etc). Alacarte does not work reliably for me.

0

If you want proper shortcut, then do following:

  1. go to /usr/share/applications
  2. coppy one of the *.desktop files to this location with the name you intend to use as application name;
  3. adjust the executable path
  4. adjust the icon path 5! check carefully for all the places in this file where old references are, and edit them to your needs.

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