Enable Desktop Icons and Right Click ~ Gnome 3 (Gnome Shell) Ubuntu 11.04

  • By default with Gnome 3, desktop icons and the ability to right click on the desktop is disabled. I will show you how to enable it.

    Open dconf by pressing alt + f2 and running:>


    Go to org > gnome > desktop > background and check the box to show desktop icons.

    While this brings back desktop icons, and enables right clicking on the desktop, it makes the computer, home, trash icons visible. These are usually hidden with Ubuntu. To make them hidden again, but still allowing icons on the desktop, go to nautilus > desktop, and uncheck the boxes for the icons you want hidden.


    July 2nd, 2011 | Joe Steiger | 35 Comments | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

About The Author

Joe Steiger

The owner and chief editor of JoeSteiger.com. Ubuntu user, android fanatic, tech enthusiast, Baltimore Ravens fan,...

  • jo

    nice trick, thanks

  • Duncan Calvert

    WATCH OUT!! I have Fedora 15 in Virtual Box. I did this and it crashed my GUI. I have to figure out how to get it working again. Will post fix.

    2600k w/ virtualization enabled
    ASUS P8-Z68-V PRO
    HD 5850
    Windows 7 (VB: Fedora64 15)

  • Amar

    Who was the moron who designed GNOME3 ?

  • Not I

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  • Puppetistas

    Thanks from Denver, JoeSteiger.

  • punjog

    Thanks from Pau, france.
    I hope we’ll be able to remove gnome 3 for the 2.

  • Branch

    An easier way is to select: activities -> applications -> accessories -> advanced settings

    In the desktop tab turn “have file manager handle the desktop” to “on”

    That will do the same as dconf

  • Wonder if anyone has had the issue with desktop icons where the gnome shell bar at the top displays over the top icons?

  • Thanks!  This also seems to work perfectly on Debian (I deleted all of my Ubuntu installations because Unity sucks).

  • Frank Barcenas

     Once you get the hang of it I find it actually pretty handy for my work style. Admittingly that it’s not perfect for everyone , nor will it fit everyone’s style. But I like draggin the windows to the different space in the righ column to automatically create workspaces as I go. It helps me compartmentalize alot..

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  • Ab

    My Desktop Editor is not showing org.
    what to do now.

  • Sorry, I didn’t see your comment.  I don’t know why org could not be showing.  Instead, you can use the Gnome Tweak Tool…under ‘Desktop’, turn on “Have file manager handle the desktop”.

  • Lenny

    Thank u! worked with Debian Wheezy!

  • NoName

    easier just to run this command in the terminal

    gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.background show-desktop-icons true

  • Me_Here

    That worked great! Thanks!

  • Yeah…no…copypasta random dude’s CLI commands is like taking candy from fat guy with a pannel van.

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  • llaen

    The fact that you need a howto to enable icons on your desktop says enough about the state of gnome 3.
    It’s like we’re back to 10 years ago, having to edit config files to get any option changed. Terrible.

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  • Stanislav NIkolov

    Thanks! I tested it on arch linux and it works!!!

  • Lucas

    Works fine! Thank you!

  • Hugo Barros de Souza

    Easy to do, but hard to find out by myself. Thank you very much for the help.

  • Danny

    Thanks Joe!. works fine on Fedora 20

  • segfault

    An alternative is using gconf-editor, if you don’t want to take candy from the fat guy. :D
    On my installation the options were missing in dconf-editor. http://goo.gl/x5TuPC

  • konig


  • Steve Noolan

    Nice, clear post. Thanx

  • George

    Thanks!! Works perfectly.

  • jose89gp

    Thanks very useful!

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  • I wouldn’t need this if I could figure out a way to add eclipse in ~/eclipse/… to “favorites” in the side bar. I can’t figure out how to do that. Any ideas?

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  • Homem Voador

    In Debian 9 Strech not works!

  • I don’t know the new way. I don’t use it.