Looking for a utility that allows me insert an item into the list of applications that GNOME knows about.

For example:
I have downloaded Eclipse EE (I have some very special plugins that I need to work with, and those plugins don't "like" the version available in the default repository). I'm using GNOME 3, on Ubuntu 11.10. So I want to execute Eclipse w/o opening a terminal and running it.

It must be something very simple.


You can use Main Menu for this. If not, install it first:

sudo apt-get install alacarte

1. Open Main Menu

2. See the example

Main Menu

After that you can call your applications with name: "command_of_application".

Edit: I missed that you had asked for applications in your home directory. If so, command must be the full path of that application.

| improve this answer | |
  • In German Ubuntu 17.10, search for "Menüberabeitung" – Christopher K. May 9 '18 at 14:25

The applications launchers Gnome knows about are .desktop files in /usr/share/applications, and ~/.local/share/applications. You can create custom launchers for whatever is in your home folder, by either manually creating and editing a custom .desktop file, or by using Alacarte, the old Gnome menu editor.

The Gnome desktop file documentation can be of help: https://developer.gnome.org/integration-guide/stable/desktop-files.html.en

The custom launcher is just a text file, named, for example, EclipseEE.desktop, with the following content:

[Desktop Entry]
Name=Eclipse EE
| improve this answer | |
  • first link is broken – nispio Aug 11 '15 at 23:59

(Repost from the original OP)

This is neat trick pointed out elsewhere:

gnome-desktop-item-edit ~/Desktop/ --create-new

Now, I have an Icon. That was a nice feature to have bound to the context menu, but alas, I do not see it.

| improve this answer | |
  • This program wasn't installed by default for me; had to do sudo apt-get install --no-install-recommends gnome-panel – yuikonnu Jan 7 '18 at 17:59

I like Jorge's simple gnome-desktop-item-edit solution. However, if I place the .desktop file on ~/Desktop/ it does not show up as an application but only as a file in the gnome menu. So I do:

sudo gnome-desktop-item-edit /usr/share/applications/ --create-new
| improve this answer | |
  • Howerver you want to create menu for all gnome users, you should prefer place it on ~/.local/share/applications folder and avoid to use sudo. – RousseauAlexandre Nov 23 '18 at 7:36

I know this thread is kinda old, but I wanted to share with you guys this bash function I just made because... because I can. If you find it useful, feel free to use it!

Warning: I just made it. It might not be perfect.

    # This functions adds some executable file to the gnome launcher.
    # It does the following:
    #   - Add symlink to /usr/bin
    #   - Add entry for gnome launcher

    # TODO: Check image file extension

    # Check if root
    # if [ "$(id -u)" != "0" ]; then 
    #   echo "Must run as root"
    #   return 1
    # fi

    # If parameter is entered, assume it's the executable's directory.
    # Else, ask for it
    if [ "$?" -gt "1" ]; then
        echo -n "Enter executable file name: "
        read exec_path
    # Check if file exists
    if [ ! -f "$exec_path" ] || [ ! -f "$(pwd)/$exec_path" ]; then
        echo "File doesn't exist"
        unset exec_path
        return 1
    # Get absolute path to file
    if [ "${exec_path:0:1}" != "/" ]; then
        echo "'$exec_path' was not an absolute path"
        echo "Assuming path '$exec_path'"
    exec_basename="$(basename "$exec_path")"
    # Check if symlink already exists
    if [ -f "/usr/bin/$exec_basename" ]; then
        echo "File '/usr/bin/$exec_basename' already exists. We wont be able to create the symlink."
        unset exec_basename
        unset exec_path
        return 1
    # Add entry for gnome panel
    if [ -f "$gnome_panel_entry_path" ]; then
        echo "Entry '$(basename "$gnome_panel_entry_path")' already exists!"
        unset exec_basename
        unset gnome_panel_entry_path
        unset exec_path
        return 2
    # ask for display name
    while [ "$USER_RESPONSE" != "y" ] && [ "$USER_RESPONSE" != "Y" ]; do
        echo -n "Enter the program's name: "
        read APP_NAME
        while [ "$APP_NAME" == "" ]; do
            echo -n "Please enter something: "
            read APP_NAME
        # ask for a description
        echo -n "Enter a short description: "
        read APP_DESCRIPTION
        # ask for an icon file
        echo -n "Enter absolute path to an icon image (empty for none): "
        read APP_ICON
        while [ "$APP_ICON" != "" ] && [ ! -f "$APP_ICON" ]; do
            echo -n "File doesn't exist. Retry: "
            read APP_ICON
        # ask if it needs a terminal
        echo -n "Will this program need a terminal? [y/n]: "
        read APP_TERMINAL
        while [ "$APP_TERMINAL" != "y" ] && [ "$APP_TERMINAL" != "n" ]; do
            echo -n "Please enter something: "
            read APP_TERMINAL
        if [ "$APP_TERMINAL" == "y" ]; then
        # ask for tags
        echo -n "Enter some categories that fit your program (';' separated): "
        read APP_CATEGORIES
        # Check if user is satisfied
        while [ "$USER_RESPONSE" == "" ] || [ "$USER_RESPONSE" != "y" ] && [ "$USER_RESPONSE" != "Y" ] && [ "$USER_RESPONSE" != "n" ] && [ "$USER_RESPONSE" != "N" ]; do
            echo -e "Is this information correct?\n"
            echo -e "\tName: \t\t$APP_NAME"
            echo -e "\tExecutable: \t$exec_path"
            echo -e "\tDescription: \t$APP_DESCRIPTION"
            echo -e "\tIcon File: \t$APP_ICON"
            echo -e "\tTerminal: \t$APP_TERMINAL"
            echo -e "\tCategories: \t$APP_CATEGORIES"
            echo -n "(y/n): "
            read USER_RESPONSE
        if [ "$USER_RESPONSE" == "n" ] || [ "$USER_RESPONSE" == "N" ]; then
            echo "Then please enter everything again, kind sir"
            unset USER_RESPONSE
    # User is happy
    # Add link to /usr/bin
    echo "Adding link to /usr/bin"
    sudo ln -s "$exec_path" "/usr/bin/$exec_basename"
    # Add gnome panel entry
    echo "Creating gnome-panel entry"
    echo "[Desktop Entry]" | sudo tee -a "$gnome_panel_entry_path" > /dev/null
    echo "Type=Application" | sudo tee -a "$gnome_panel_entry_path" > /dev/null
    echo "Encoding=UTF-8" | sudo tee -a "$gnome_panel_entry_path" > /dev/null
    echo "Name=$APP_NAME" | sudo tee -a "$gnome_panel_entry_path" > /dev/null
    echo "Comment=$APP_DESCRIPTION" | sudo tee -a "$gnome_panel_entry_path" > /dev/null
    echo "Icon=$APP_ICON" | sudo tee -a "$gnome_panel_entry_path" > /dev/null
    echo "Exec=$exec_path" | sudo tee -a "$gnome_panel_entry_path" > /dev/null
    echo "Terminal=$APP_TERMINAL" | sudo tee -a "$gnome_panel_entry_path" > /dev/null
    echo "Categories=$APP_CATEGORIES" | sudo tee -a "$gnome_panel_entry_path" > /dev/null
    echo "Entry added in '$gnome_panel_entry_path'"
    unset APP_NAME
    unset APP_TERMINAL
    unset APP_ICON
    unset exec_path
    unset exec_basename
    unset gnome_panel_entry_path
    return 0
| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.