If you’d rather make the desktop a launching point for quick access to applications, most of the popular desktops linux allow you to create application launchers on your desktop. With their help, you have quick access to your favorite applications. Here’s how to add desktop application launchers to three popular Linux desktops: GNOME KDE Plasma and Cinnamon .

The instructions in this article use GNOME on Ubuntu 19.04 KDE Plasma on KDE Neon and Cinnamon on Linux Mint .


It used to be easy to add a desktop app launcher to GNOME, now it’s a bit cumbersome (although not difficult). You will not create a launcher manually using a text editor. Instead, install the Desktop Icons extension for GNOME, install the GNOME Customization Tool and enable the Desktop Icons extension, then add the launcher.

Install the GNOME Desktop Extension

  1. Open a web browser, then go to desktop icon extension page .

  2. Move the toggle switch to position » On .».

    Screenshot of installing the Desktop Icons extension.

    If you don’t see an ON/OFF toggle, install the GNOME Shell integration extension and your own host socket.

  3. When prompted, select Install .

  4. Close your browser.

Install GNOME Tweak Tool and enable desktop icon expansion

  1. Open the Ubuntu Software Center.

  2. Search tweaks .

  3. Select GNOME Tweaks .

  4. Select Install .

    Screenshot of installing GNOME tweaks.
  5. Enter the sudo user password when prompted.

  6. Allow installation to complete.

  7. Open the GNOME Tweak Tool. Open a shooting range, like settings a then choose Tweaks icon.

  8. Select » extensions», then turn on toggle switch icons on the desktop .

    Screenshot of the Desktop Icons extension.
  9. Close the Tweaks tool.

Add Launcher

To add a launcher for the Firefox web browser, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Nautilus file manager.

  2. Select other locations .

    Screenshot of the "Other Places" section of nautilus.
  3. Select A computer .

    Screenshot of computer location in Nautilus.
  4. Switch to usr > share > applications .

  5. Right click file firefox.desktop and select » Copy» .

    Screenshot of copying the launcher from inside Nautilus.
  6. Close Nautilus.

  7. Right click on the desktop and select » Insert» .

    Screenshot of inserting the launcher on the desktop in GNOME.
  8. Right click on the new icon and select » Allow Launch» .

    Screenshot: Turn on the
  9. Now you can run the application from this launcher.

KDE Plasma

The KDE Plasma desktop makes this process easy. In a KDE Plasma environment, follow these steps to add a launcher to your desktop, such as for Firefox:

  1. Open the KDE Plasma menu (located in the bottom left corner of your desktop).

  2. Right-click the Firefox icon and select » Add to Desktop» .

    Screenshot of adding a launcher to KDE Plasma.
  3. Now you can run the application from this launcher.


The Cinnamon desktop takes the same approach as KDE Plasma. With a few quick clicks, you can add a launcher to your desktop. Here’s how to add a launcher to the Firefox web browser:

  1. Open the «Cinnamon» menu (located in the lower left corner of the desktop).

  2. Select category Internet in the middle panel.

  3. Right click Firefox browser .

  4. Select Add to Desktop .

    Screenshot of adding a launcher to the Cinnamon desktop.
  5. Now you can run the application from this launcher.

Remove launchers

Removing desktop launchers is the same for all three environments. To do this, right-click the launcher you want to remove and select » Move to cart» .

Removing the launcher from the GNOME desktop.

Add as needed

If you want your Linux desktop to be as efficient as the environment you migrated from, adding application launchers to your desktop is a great way to do that. If you prefer a desktop filled with launchers, add launchers as needed to make your Linux desktop work the way you want.

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