Enable ‘Drag & Drop’ Between Desktop and File Browser in Ubuntu 20.04

October 24, 2020 — 5 Comments

gnome shell

Since the desktop icons are handled by an extension instead of Nautilus file browser, drag’n’drop action between desktop and file browser does no longer work.

Fortunately, a fork of the original Desktop Icons extension now is available with several enhancements, including Drag’n’Drop.

It’s called Desktop Icons NG, and features:

  • Drag’n’Drop, both inside the desktop, between desktop and applications, and nautilus windows
  • Allows to use “Open with…” option with several files
  • When hovering or clicking on an icon with a name too large to fit, it shows the full name
  • Doesn’t hang the compositor when there is too much activity in the desktop folder

Install Desktop Icons NG extension:

The extension is still (Oct 2020) in alpha development, so it may have a lot of bugs. Use with care.

1. If you’re first time installing a Gnome Shell extension, first open terminal (Ctrl+Alt+T) and run command to install recommended packages:

sudo apt install chrome-gnome-shell gnome-shell-extension-prefs

2. Then go to extensions.gnome.org/…/desktop-icons-ng. Turn on the toggle icon and install the extension.

Don’t see the toggle icon? Click the link to install browser extension and refresh the web page.

3. Open Extensions tool from app launcher. Disable the built-in ‘Desktop Icons’ extension and enable the new installed ‘Desktop Icons NG’ extension.

For the extension settings, simply right-click on Ubuntu Desktop and select the last option.

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I'm a freelance blogger who started using Ubuntu in 2007 and wishes to share my experiences and some useful tips with Ubuntu beginners and lovers. Please notify me if you find any typo/grammar/language mistakes. English is not my native language. Contact me via [email protected]

5 responses to Enable ‘Drag & Drop’ Between Desktop and File Browser in Ubuntu 20.04

  1. Thanks for your great information in your article on your website about how to enable drag & drop between desktop and file browser in Ubuntu 20.04. Just what I needed to know. But does it also work for URLs?

    Sincerely regards, Poul

  2. are you kidding me? coming from windows, this is such basic functionality. it boggles my mind linux users put up with this

    • The feature is missing so far due to desktop icons controller changed from File browser (Nautilus) to built-in Gnome Extension in recent Ubuntu releases.

  3. Thanks a lot, This was of big help, since I worked a lot with the drag and drop feature and had already moved to Kubuntu for having it again.

  4. I am seeing double icons on my desktop. I recently updated from 18.04 to 20.04, does that have anything to do with it? Really want to get this extension working.

    Thanks for any help

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