As it is the only way to activate transparent themes in Gnome-shell:

  • How to disable Nautilus from handling the desktop?
  • Can I make it handle the desktop again?
  • What will happen to the unity and desktop icons?
  • How to handle the desktop icons without nautilus?
  • 3
    use gnome-tweak-tool ... it's like the first option in the interface (to disable this specific thing) – user258097 Mar 14 '14 at 5:44

You should remove the file /etc/xdg/autostart/nautilus-autostart.desktop (or at least modify the OnlyShowIn line into it).

Then you should always run nautilus with the --no-desktop option (this could also require to modify some menu item or quicklist).

You can manage the desktop with nautilus again at any time launching nautilus without the option --no-desktop.

To manage the desktop in an alternative way you could look at some other file manager.

  • Works well.But i was shocked when opening Unity-DE that desktop icons still there, i was thinking that disable nautilus from handling the desktop will happen to all DE-s(i,e, nautilus still handling the desktop in unity and not handling the desktop in Gnome-shell and it is great) – Black Block Dec 3 '11 at 20:19
  • 1
    This is a workaround. The solution is the one given by Jon Wood – elzapp Jan 18 '15 at 17:02

I found that running gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.background show-desktop-icons false instantly disabled the desktop icons.

  • This is a way better answer – Ben Jul 21 '15 at 9:42

If you install the gnome tweak tool (which you'll want anyway) you can disable file manager handling the desktop (see Picture). But as far as I know you will then have no desktop icons. Most if not all DEs are structured such that the file manager handles desktop icons.


  • This worked wonderfully for me to prevent nautilus from loading the desktop backgrounds of gnome desktop manager (which were different than those I had in the des Xcfe desktop manager) – loved.by.Jesus Mar 6 '19 at 14:51

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