After upgrading my machine from Ubuntu 21.04 to 21.10, the desktop has no icons. Even the default Trash and Home icons are not visible. How can I bring back the icons?

env | grep XDG_CURRENT_DESKTOP outputs:

  • Go to extensions.gnome.org/local, or use the Extensions app, to re-enable the desktop-icons or desktop-icons NG (DING) gnome shell extensions.
    – heynnema
    Oct 16, 2021 at 0:16
  • Extensions shows nothing named desktop-icons
    – Mahir
    Oct 16, 2021 at 1:20

3 Answers 3


Ubuntu 21.10 uses a different gnome shell extension to provide icons on the desktop, "Desktop Icons NG" rather than "Desktop Icons".

That the upgrade process did not correctly replace the package gnome-shell-extensions-desktop-icons with the new gnome-shell-extensions-desktop-icons-ng is related to your specific configuration and the fact that the old extension is not anymore packaged in Ubuntu 21.10.

With "your specific configuration", I suspect that following customization from your part some standard metapackages (eg. ubuntu-desktop) may not anymore be on your system. In that case, the new package is not pulled in together with the updated metapackage. However, the old package is removed because it does not anymore exist in the new version. If you do have the metapackage, however, then this is to be considered a bug in the upgrader.

The solution is to manually install the new package:

sudo apt install gnome-shell-extension-desktop-icons-ng

You may need to activate the extension using the Extensions tool. Install it with

sudo apt install gnome-shell-extension-prefs

Start the tool searching for "Extensions".


Icons disappeared for me as well,from the dock and desktop. My fix was to restore the desktop back to default by going into home folder. Then ctrl+h to show hidden files, then navigate to config/dconf. Once your there rename dconf to dconf.bak.

Restart your machine and you should be greeted with a stock Ubuntu desktop. You will lose all your favorite positions and some settings that you will have to re-enable but that should bring it all back to a working state.

  • My dock icons are fine, But the icons which were meant to be in desktop is not there.
    – Mahir
    Oct 16, 2021 at 1:17
  • Did you try the fix I posted, it will reset your desktop back to default and bring back your standard desktop icons. You can also reset them by running this command from the terminal. dconf reset -f /
    – rockdev
    Oct 16, 2021 at 1:48
  • No, It just reset dock, theme, wallpaper, icon size on dock etc. but not showing desktop icons.
    – Mahir
    Oct 16, 2021 at 2:06
  • 2
    Maybe try to reinstall the desktop-icons extension. sudo apt reinstall gnome-shell-extension-desktop-icons-ng
    – rockdev
    Oct 16, 2021 at 2:16
  • 1
    Reinstalling the gnome-shell-extension-desktop-icons-ng fixed my issue.
    – Mahir
    Oct 16, 2021 at 2:34

Found a Similiar post here with the same symptoms ( like mine :/ )

I've upgraded from 21.04 to 21.10 and afterwards my desktop is just the blank background image! The Files are still there and if I start with vanilla gnome session I can also see them.

I have already tried installing DING from https://extensions.gnome.org/, with apt, also purging... I've revisited all my sources and they are all fine! (and the most up-to-date! Nothing helping so far. Is there any way I can re-trigger the upgrade process as if I was still running 21.04? I DO have a backup but I wouldn't want to go back to it as I've taken it from a live system with dd...

  • 1
    Well this is not an answer , This type of things should be first posted in comment box :) Welcome to ask ubuntu
    – Error404
    Oct 29, 2021 at 2:55
  • 1
    sorry, can't yet post to comments! trying my best!
    – Chaos_02
    Oct 29, 2021 at 3:12

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .