How to enable adding Files and Folders on desktop in elementary OS

Elementary OS doesn't allow icons on desktop. No worries, here is a solution!

Elementary OS doesn’t allow file manager to access desktop, and the reasoning behind this approach according to dev team is a clutter free desktop. While some may agree with desktop restriction, there are probably more people who are unhappy about it. Fortunately, there is a way to enable desktop icons and also the right-click context menu on desktop to access features such as creating ‘New Folder’, ‘Copy’, ‘Paste’, ‘Change desktop background’, and more. Let’s get started.

Enabling icons and Right-click context menu on Desktop

Step 1: Install Nautilus Dconf Tools

Launch ‘Terminal’ and enter these commands one-at-a-time to install the Nautilus Dconf tools. This utility gives plenty of options to tweak your elementary OS in addition to enabling access to desktop and enabling right-click context menu on desktop.

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install nautilus dconf-tools

Terminal elementary OS - apt get install
Terminal elementary OS – apt get install

Step 2: Configure Dconf

dconf-editor

In the left pane, click through Org > gnome > nautilus > desktop and configure the following:

  • home-icon-name: Home
  • home-icon-visible: check the box
  • network-icon-visible: check the box if you want this icon on desktop
  • trash-icon-visible: check the box
  • volumes-visible: check if you want all the hard disk partitions to show on desktop

dconf editor - nautilus
dconf editor – nautilus

Now let’s add the nautilus to startup:

click Org > pantheon > cerbere and add ‘nautilus -n‘ to monitored-processes.

dconf editor - pantheon - cerebere
dconf editor – pantheon – cerebere

Step 3: Launch Nautilus

Open ‘Terminal’ and type following command,

nautilus -n

Finally, go to dconf-tools again and Org > gnome > desktop > background and check the box ‘show-desktop-icons’ box.

dconf Editor - show desktop icons
dconf Editor – show desktop icons

You should now see icons on the desktop. You will also get the right-click context menu.

Elementary OS with right-click context menu on desktop
Elementary OS with right-click context menu on desktop

Kiran Kumar
Hi there! I'm Kiran Kumar, founder of FOSSLinux.com. I'm an avid Linux lover and enjoy hands-on with new promising distros. Currently, I'm using Ubuntu as a daily driver and run several other distros such as Fedora, Solus, Manjaro, Debian, and some new ones on my test PC and virtual machines. I have a day job as an Engineer, and this website is one of my favorite past time activities especially during Winter ;). When I'm not writing for FOSSLinux, I'm seen biking and hiking on scenic trails. Hope you enjoy using this website as much as I do writing for it. Feedback from readers is something that inspires me to do more, and spread Linux love!. If you find a time, drop me an email or feedback from the 'Contact' page. Or simply leave a comment below if you found this article useful. Have a good day!

6 COMMENTS

  1. This solution works only as long as the nautilus -n is active in the terminal. When you close the terminal it goes back to square one. Is there any other way to make it stay permanently?

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