I just did a clean install of 20.04 and I noticed that no key shortcuts for files manipulation work when my focus in on Desktop (not in Nautilus).

When I have copied a file to clipboard, I cannot Ctrl+V it to Desktop, when I click on a file on Desktop, I cannot Ctrl+C it, or I cannot Delete it with keys. Only ways to do it is either navigate to the Desktop folder in Nautilus, or right-click the file on the Desktop and copy/move to trash/paste...

Sorry if I'm missing something obvious, all the key shortcuts worked normally for me in 18.04.

  • I believe this is one of the features that should not be in the first place. – abhishek Apr 24 '20 at 13:52
  • 3
    I am also facing the same on clean install of 20.04 – Erdnase Apr 27 '20 at 6:15
  • Answered here askubuntu.com/a/1240666/24700 – razor7 May 17 '20 at 22:55
  • Does this answer your question? Basic desktop actions not available on Ubuntu 20.04 – razor7 May 17 '20 at 22:55

Unfortunately desktop icons are completely broken, which is quite unexpected in a LTS release of ubuntu.

You just cannot use keyboard on desktop icons (I'm not kidding).

This has been reported here: https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/gnome-shell-extension-desktop-icons/+bug/1868924

The workaround is described here: https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/gnome-shell-extension-desktop-icons/+bug/1868924/comments/4

  1. remove gnome-desktop-icons
  2. install nemo
  3. make nemo handle desktop icons
  • 2
    Wonderful ! From that comment, keyboard navigation has not been implemented at all, so this will not be fixed soon -_- This is quite disappointing from a major Linux distribution, I had got many bugs with Ubuntu recently, it seems that relyability is no longer the standard... gitlab.gnome.org/World/ShellExtensions/desktop-icons/-/issues/… – Kiruahxh May 18 '20 at 9:01
  • If minor bugs are a major problem it is best to always wait 6 months before installing a new version of Ubuntu, in my opinion, and from what I have learned since Jaunty Jackalope, might not be as true nowadays as it was. – Rabbit May 24 '20 at 16:58

Can confirm that issue has been fixed in gnome-shell-extension-desktop-icons/focal-updates,focal-updates,now 20.04.0-2~ubuntu20.04.1

This is available via the proposed apt channel. Here's how to enable it.

After enabling it, you install the package by doing the regular apt update && apt upgrade


As suggested by @Mee, the best solution is to replace the Gnome Shell "desktop-icons" extension, and use the Nemo desktop instead:

# install Nemo
sudo apt install nemo

# Edit settings
gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.background show-desktop-icons false
gsettings set org.nemo.desktop show-desktop-icons true

# Disable the "desktop-icons" extension
gnome-extensions disable desktop-icons@csoriano

# Set nemo-desktop to autostart on login
cp /usr/share/applications/nemo-autostart.desktop $HOME/.config/autostart/
sed -i -r 's/^(OnlyShowIn)/#\1/i' $HOME/.config/autostart/nemo-autostart.desktop

(My other answer here also adds some explanations)

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