I am using GNOME 3.32.1 on Ubuntu 19.04. I cannot drag desktop icons to Nautilus folders. I cannot double click desktop icons to open them in their default applications. I cannot (automatically) organize desktop icons. In short, GNOME desktop icons are non-functional other than to represent files in the desktop folder.

Is there a painless way to add basic integration (drag and drop, click to launch, etc.) of GNOME 3.3X desktop icons with Nautilus?


First of all, if not already installed, install gnome-tweaks with

sudo apt install gnome-tweaks

Now go to the extension tab in the app and click on the gear icon next to desktop icons. Uncheck show trash and uncheck show home directory. Now run:

sudo apt install xfdesktop4 thunar

We are basically pulling in the components of xfce that deal with desktop icons. Now open startup applications and add an entry with

  • Name: Desktop icons
  • Description: whatever
  • Command: bash -c "thunar --daemon & sleep 1 & xfdesktop"

Now reboot and you should have completely functional icons that you can customize to your liking by right clicking on the desktop (i.e. change the wallpaper via this menu, the option in settings won't work anymore).


  • remove the home folder from the desktop because it will open in thunar and not nautilus.
  • remove show mounted devices because ubuntu shows them already in the dock

An alternative would be to install desktop folder by clicking here (download the .deb file of the latest release). Open he app (it will automatically set itself to autostart), then reboot and you should have a more functional desktop.

Drag and drop doesn't work as well as the other alternative and if you're not using english as the system language it will create a duplicate desktop folder named "Desktop" (instead of the italian "Scrivania" for example).

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