Coming from a Windows background, I'm used to being able to access global start menu shortcuts and user specific shortcuts in File Explorer, but the Gnome menu has me puzzled.

When I navigate the menu by clicking the Ubuntu button at the top left (the equivalent of the start button on Windows), I can see all the application shortcuts are categorized according to what type of application they are. But when I look at the shortcuts from where they're actually being read from (/usr/share/applications), they all appear in one big folder with no indication of how Ubuntu/Gnome is categorizing them into their own unique categories.

How does this work? I'd like to be able to easily modify where shortcuts are located/appearing in the menu, as well as have the ability to easily add new shortcuts and manually categorize where they should go. Is this possible?

1 Answer 1


The files in /usr/share/applications are *.desktop files. They are simply text files that hold the shortcut data. If you want to reorganize, I would not recommend editing those files, but using the application for editing the menu (alacarte)

You can get to it three ways (I'm assuming you are using 10.10):

  1. Right click on the menu and select Edit Menus

    Edit Menus
  2. System -> Preferences -> Main Menu
  3. Open Terminal. Type: alacarte

You can move items around by dragging them into different categories, edit the shortcuts, make your own, etc. Editing the menu's

  • Thank you NateW! (and lazyPower for the edit). One more related question: Can I move/copy some shortcuts that I already manually created from my desktop to the /user/share/applications folder as well, without causing any errors or future problems for myself? Apr 4, 2011 at 0:59
  • 1
    Personally, I wouldn't modify the applications folder, I would add items using alacarte. Open alacarte and select the menu item (Accessories, Games, etc.). Then drag the launcher from the desktop (or folder) to the list of applications in that category.
    – NateW
    Apr 4, 2011 at 1:34
  • Cool, thanks for the extra advice Nate; much appreciated! Apr 5, 2011 at 11:58

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