How to Add Application Shortcut to Desktop in Ubuntu 20.04

Last updated: May 2, 2020 — 15 Comments

gnome shell

This simple tutorial shows how to send application shortcut icons to the desktop in Ubuntu 20.04 Gnome Shell.

Want to put working folders and common used applications on your desktop? It’s easy to do this in the default Gnome desktop via following steps.

1. First open file browser and navigate to Other Locations > Computer > usr > share > applications. The shortcut files of most installed applications are there.

Open a new file browser window, and navigate to Desktop folder.

Now drag and drop desired applications’ .desktop files to the Desktop folder.

2. Then right-click on the desktop icons one by one and select ‘Allow Launching‘.

The icons should change, and will launch the applications once you click on them.


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15 responses to How to Add Application Shortcut to Desktop in Ubuntu 20.04

  1. Thank !

  2. Even more…. to get the shortcut in the favorites bar (on the left):

    Put the .desktop entry in /home/USERNAME/.local/share/applications
    Now it is shown (with the given icon) if you hit the “Show Applications” (bottom-left corner).
    Then, even before launching (double click) the icon, right click the icon and select “Add to favorites”.

  3. This worked after I installed Ubuntu 20.04.

    But after an update about a week ago, the icons are no longer launchable.

    If I right-click on the desktop icon (firefox.desktop) there is no “Allow Launching” menu choice.

    How to fix?

    Ken in Sugar Creek

  4. Hi, is it possible to create a shortcut on desktop directly from favorite (favorite to desktop ) or from ‘show applications” ? Thanks.

  5. I installed my application by building from source code and making install. There is no corresponding .desktop in /usr/share/applications/. Is there any easy way to add a shotcut for it.

  6. This is the perfect example of what the Ubuntu experience is like: you need to install additional software and/or tweak settings in order to get essential system functionality, like showing the desktop. Often (like in this case) functionality that was available in earlier versions, but that they purposefully decided to remove.

  7. Thanks! This works for the overwhelming majority of applications. But, I don’t see an entry for GIMP. Do you know how to make it work for GIMP?

    • If GIMP was installed via Snap or Flatpak, the .desktop file is available in another location.

      For SNAP package, go to File Browser -> Other Locations -> Computer -> Snap -> GIMP folder -> current -> usr -> share -> applications.

      For Flatpak package, go to File Browser -> Other Locations -> Computer -> var -> lib -> flatpak -> app -> GIMP folder -> current -> active -> export -> share -> applications.

      Finally do copy & paste .desktop file to the Desktop folder and finally right-click to allow launching.

  8. drinksAndKnowsThings December 31, 2020 at 9:04 pm

    This actually doesn’t work. for some reason Ubuntu wants to drive away it’s user base and has consequently made it impossible to create launchable desktop shortcuts anymore. Rumor has it they are about to become aquired by Microsoft.

  9. right click on the desktop icon, properties, check grants/rights (or similar) and check the box at the bottom, it will allow execution (ubuntu 21.10)

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