I don't like to use the pre-made folders. I want to organize the things the way I want and with the names I want. Moreover I don't want to have to move a picture every time I want to try and see how it looks as a background wallpaper. So, how can I quickly select an image in any folder as a desktop background.

5 Answers 5


There are many ways to do so:

a) In Appearence Settings choose an image via the "+" button:

appearence settings

b) Open an image you like by doubleclick, rightclick and choose "Set as Desktop Background":


c) Shotwell (photo manager) features this, too: Select an image and choose FileSet as Desktop Background or just press Ctrl+B:


d) With the extension nautilus-wallpaper you was able to set an image as background out of the file manager. But this doesn't work since Ubuntu 11.10.

As a workaround you can install nautilus-actionsInstall nautilus-actions. Start it and add a new entry via FileNew action or by pressing Ctrl+N. Name it "Set as Wallpaper":

nautilus actions

In the "Command" tab do following settings:

Label: Set as Wallpaper
Path: gsettings
Parameters: set org.gnome.desktop.background picture-uri %u

nautilus actions

In the Mimetypes tab edit the entry and change "*/*" to "image/*" (press to apply before switching the tab):

nautilus actions

In the Environment tab (press the arrow at the top right side to reach it) under Appears if selection contains change Count: > (strictly greater than) to = (equal to) and change the value to "1":

nautilus actions

Safe your edits by FileSave or Ctrl+S. Then open Preferences by EditPreferences. Uncheck "Create a root 'Nautilus-Actions' menu":

uncheck preferences

Close Nautilus Actions and restart Nautilus (file manager) by pressing Alt+F2 and running killall nautilus or logging out and in again.

From now on you can set your preferred images as desktop background directly out of the file manager via rightclick:

out of nautilus

  • I recently came across a libnautilus-gksu.so file which is when put to /usr/lib/nautilus/extensions-3.0/, adds "Open as administrator" context menu entry (I know there's a package too available to install via Synaptic for this thing), is there any similar way for "Set as Wallpaper" option? instead of installing nautilus-actions which by default adds lot of context menu entries which I'll hardly use.
    – Kushal
    May 10, 2012 at 20:17
  • I'd be interested in it, too. Apart from that: If you follow this guide you won't have any other Nautilus Actions entries - unless you add them by yourself.
    – Jakob
    May 10, 2012 at 20:21

Excellent answers given, and also another simpler way that doesn't need the installation of any extra program or opening heavy programs, is the use of nautilus-scripts. Specifically, open Gedit, and paste these:

gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.background picture-uri "$quoted"

Next, save the file as 'Set as Background' under ~/.gnome2/nautilus-scripts. To access the directory ~/.gnome2/nautilus-scripts you will need to go to your home directory through the save dialog of Gedit and press Ctrl+H so as to show the 'hidden' directories (the ones starting with a dot ".") and select the .gnome2 folder and next the nautilus-scripts folder.

Next, you have to make the saved file executable. You will need to open your home folder, press Ctrl+H so as to show the 'hidden' folders, navigate to .gnome2 and next to nautilus-scripts, right click on the saved file 'Set as Background', click on Properties, click on 'Allow executing file as program' and close the dialog.

Now, right-clicking on every file will result on this:

right click and set as background


Click the + sign at the bottom left of the 4x4 wallpaper icon grid.

You can also place links in the main pictures folder, that take you elsewhere (drag a folder with middle button, instead of left, to create a link)


You can also open picture in Image Viewer and then on the top of the screen select Image>Set As Desktop Background.


My settings looks different than the screen shots in here, and I don't want to both making scripts for this. I discovered an easy way to do this using Tweak Tool.

Open Tweak Tool > Desktop.

Then you can select any image you want for either the lock screen or background and you can change the zoom mode (an option my background settings pane lacks).

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