I have two monitors set up, one is my laptop monitor and the other is an external display. The external display is on the right side of my laptop and levitated with a stand, so I set the display positions in the 'Displays' settings to reflect their physical position.

The following is a screen shot of my workspace switcher, the bottom left one is my laptop display and the top right is my external display.

So there are two main problems:

  1. The desktop background reflects the display position that I set up in 'Displays' settings, and you can notice that all my desktop icons are in the top right corner which I have no access to, it's not in my display! If I move the laptop display to the top then they show up.

  2. The workspace display is not correct on the big screen, it's missing the left part.

Does any Ubuntu expert know how to fix this? P.S. The system is 12.04 64bit.

enter image description here


3 Answers 3


This problem is still present in Ubuntu 14.04. After all this years nothing has been fixed, but at least I have an easier workaround for this problem.

I open a Files window (nautilus, nemo, etc.) and navigate to the Desktop folder. I select all my files and just drag and drop them anywhere I want in the visible (and accessible) desktop. No files get copied or cut since it's just a rearrange inside the same folder from two different interfaces. This way you don't have to be constantly changing the Monitor's configuration.

The problem still persist if you want to save or create new files on your desktop, because they all get created and/or saved in the inaccessible part of the desktop.

  • Still see the problem in 18.04. Thanks. But it will not move "Trash" to the place where I want, because in Nautilus I don't see "Trash" icon. But for other things it works.
    – WesternGun
    Aug 23, 2021 at 9:04

Similar problem here. But as Ubuntu remembers the icon position (it seems even depending on monitor setup), there is a (ugly) workaround.

I use my laptop at home (single-monitor setup, enternainment purposes, soft work) and at work (dual monitor, one taller than the other). When i stick an USB memory, ubuntu creates an icon on desktop, perfectly visible. But when i go to work and try to use it, i know the icon is there (using keyboard arrows to navigate I can reach it, and intro does open it), but out of view (as ubuntu never seen it in this monitor setup, it uses the last known position... the one in the other setup, out of current view.

In these cases, i use to change (temporarily) my desktop setup, moving the laptop's desktop position to one the icon is in, then moving the icon to a visible area in the other monitor, then return to my favourite setup, then moving te icon where i really want it to be. It's a tedious manner, but it works, without changing files, or scripting, nor nothing.

Or you can try to automate: http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1472774

  • This seem like a workable workaround, albeit tedious. Sometimes I really like the primitive feeling of Ubuntu, but these sort of issues come together with the sauce, too lol
    – Xavier_Ex
    Dec 5, 2013 at 16:01
  • 1
    I guess you could call this a workaround, but it is way more complicated that it should. I've added another answer that makes it way easier to fix the problem. Newly created/saved items are still a problem though.
    – Felipe
    Mar 7, 2015 at 2:46

I kind of suspect that "Organize Desktop by name" is the cause of all this, it will put all the icons in a long vertical column regardless if there is an actual monitor below current monitor to show the complete line of icon. The lower part of the line is only visible when you move one monitor in "Device" - "Display" below the monitor where you organize desktop.

Don't use this function in context menu.

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