My desktop (not the /home/user/Desktop folder) shows the contents of my /home/user folder. I don't know how I have done it and can I have some help on undoing it? The /home/user/Desktop folder just contains my desktop files which do not appear on my desktop.


2 Answers 2


You can change you desktop folder i.e the folder you want to use as your Desktop.

  • Open the ~/.config folder. (Press Ctrl+h to show hidden folders.)

    enter image description here

  • Open the user-dirs.dirs file in gedit.

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  • Change XDG_DESKTOP_DIR to the folder you want to show as your Desktop folder. In your case it is XDG_DESKTOP_DIR=$HOME/Desktop

    enter image description here

  • Now restart nautilus using nautilus -q or killall nautilus and again opening it from Dash.
  • This answer is still up to date on Trusty 14.04.4. Thanks. +1
    – Cbhihe
    Mar 21, 2016 at 17:36
  • 1
    still works in 16.04
    – Anwar
    Jul 3, 2016 at 18:02
  • 1
    still works in 18.10
    – Robertiano
    Apr 19, 2019 at 7:19
  • still works in debian testing, but the nautilus stuff is a bit different is xfce4 of course.
    – OmarL
    Oct 8, 2020 at 12:15

As simply or shortly, You can set default folders with help of xdg-user-dirs-update command.

Run following command in your case:

xdg-user-dirs-update --set DESKTOP "$HOME/Desktop"

Then logout and login back to show/change effect.

From man xdg-user-dirs-update:

       xdg-user-dirs-update - Update XDG user dir configuration

       xdg-user-dirs-update [OPTION...] [--set NAME PATH...]

       xdg-user-dirs-update updates the current state of the users user-dirs.dir. If none existed before then one is created
       based on the system default values, or falling back to the old non-translated filenames if such directories exists. The
       list of old directories used are: ~/Desktop, ~/Templates and ~/Public.

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