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From what I read browsing askubuntu, a .desktop file in /usr/share/applications/ is useful for creating a shortcut to opening an application. However, there are many more .desktop files in this folder than there are applications in my Show Applications menu. It seems like the other .desktop files have the line NoDisplay=true. For example, I have the file python3.8.desktop that has this line. So what's the point of these .desktop files with NoDisplay=true?

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You can create an icon that launch an application in background.

Details from Desktop Entry Specification:

NoDisplay means "this application exists, but don't display it in the menus". This can be useful to e.g. associate this application with MIME types, so that it gets launched from a file manager (or other apps), without having a menu entry for it (there are tons of good reasons for this, including e.g. the netscape -remote, or kfmclient openURL kind of stuff).

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    The quote is relevant, but it really does not mean "launch in background".
    – user1686
    Oct 21 at 15:20
  • @user1686 answer must have been updated, I don't see "launch in background" as a meaning, only a possibility. You have the option.
    – mckenzm
    Oct 21 at 17:15

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