Being brand new at Ubuntu, I cannot understand how to copy contents in a flash drive to a desktop folder I created.

I can select the copy method on the flash drive but can't seem to make it go to the destination folder because there is no "paste" option on the right-click menu of the folder icon on the desktop.

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    Did the other methods that other OSes support--pressing Ctrl+V while the destination window has focus or dragging the files from the source to the destination--also not work? Please edit to say if those methods work, if they don't work then what happens when you try them, and if they do work then whether or not you consider that an adequate solution for your needs. (If you don't, please explain why, since that may influence what techniques or solutions people propose.) I'm not sure why you don't see "Paste" when you right-click the destination but you should be able to paste without it. – Eliah Kagan Sep 1 at 21:01

I can't say to be an expert. I run into difficulties in Nautilus just moving a picture from one directory to another. I've found opening a separate instance of Nautilus helps me out.

From the first window of Nautilus select copy. In the second instance of Nautilus select paste. Alternatively to move, just click the icon in the source Nautilus Window and drag it to the target Nautilus window.

Note there are problems reported in Nautilus DnD (Drag and Drop) for Ubuntu 19.04. For that version see:

  • Issue here is related to copying to a desktop folder, i.e. from nautilus to the desktop. In 19.04, this is "broken" because now a Gnome Shell extension is used to provide desktop icons. For "regular" move operations within File manager, you indeed need to have the target visible, which in many cases requires having another window open on the target (unless you move to a folder visible in the current pane or to a bookmark) – vanadium Sep 2 at 7:30

Working with folders on the desktop is somewhat more limited in functionality on Ubuntu 19.04 than in previous versions. The reason for this is that they had to move to a different mechanism for handling files on your desktop.

Because of these limitations, you currently cannot drag and drop files from the file manager on folder icons on the desktop to copy/move them there, nor paste contents in that folder using the menu that appears after right-clicking the folder icon.

Workaround: Double click the folder icon. A file manager window of the folder opens, where you now can drag or paste your files.

You can also move your files from within the file manager. You will find the files and folders on your desktop in a folder "Desktop" in your home folder.


Formerly, the file manager nautilus also handled drawing the icons on the desktop. Gnome developpers decided to remove that feature from nautilus. To keep the functionality, Ubuntu has long shipped with an older version of nautilus that still supported the feature.

Since Ubuntu 19.04, Ubuntu ships with the latest nautilus version. To still offer desktop icons, now they use a Gnome Shell extension "Desktop Icons". This extension is still in early development and limited in features.

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