Software & AppsOperating SystemLinux

Creating a Custom Application Launcher in Gnome Shell

Ubuntu 2

In this article, we will walk you through the process of creating a custom application launcher in Gnome Shell. This can be a handy feature if you frequently use a particular application and want to access it quickly.

Quick Answer

Creating a custom application launcher in Gnome Shell can be done in several ways. You can manually create a desktop file, use a menu editor like Alacarte or MenuLibre, or utilize a Gnome Shell extension like MyLauncher. Each method allows you to specify the name, command, and icon for the launcher, giving you the flexibility to access your favorite applications quickly.

Overview

Gnome Shell is the default interface in many Linux distributions including Ubuntu and Fedora. It provides a straightforward and easy-to-navigate environment for users. One of its features is the ability to create custom application launchers, which can be used to run any application installed on your system.

Method 1: Creating a Desktop File Manually

Step 1: Create a New Desktop File

Open your favorite text editor and create a new file. Name it after the application you want to create a launcher for, with the extension .desktop. For example, if you’re creating a launcher for Eclipse IDE, you might name the file eclipse.desktop.

Step 2: Add Content to the File

Add the following content to the file:

[Desktop Entry]
Encoding=UTF-8
Name=Eclipse IDE
Exec=/path/to/eclipse/executable
Icon=/path/to/eclipse/icon
Type=Application
Categories=Development;

Here’s a breakdown of what each line does:

  • Name: The name of the application as it will appear in the launcher.
  • Exec: The path to the executable file of the application.
  • Icon: The path to the icon file you want to use for the launcher.
  • Type: The type of the launcher. In this case, it’s an application, so the type is Application.
  • Categories: The category or categories the application falls under. This helps Gnome Shell to organize the application in the menu.

Remember to replace /path/to/eclipse/executable and /path/to/eclipse/icon with the actual paths to your Eclipse executable and icon.

Step 3: Save and Move the File

Save the file and move it to either /usr/share/applications for system-wide access, ~/.local/share/applications for user-specific access, or ~/Desktop to create a desktop shortcut.

Step 4: Make the File Executable

If you placed the file on your desktop, make sure it’s executable by running the following command in the terminal:

chmod +x ~/Desktop/eclipse.desktop

Step 5: Restart Gnome Shell

Restart Gnome Shell if necessary for the changes to take effect. You can do this by pressing Alt+F2, typing r, and then pressing Enter.

Method 2: Using Alacarte Menu Editor

Alacarte is a menu editor for Gnome that can be used to create custom application launchers.

Step 1: Install Alacarte

You can install Alacarte from the Ubuntu repositories by running the following command:

sudo apt-get install alacarte

Step 2: Create a New Entry

Open Alacarte and click on New Item to create a new entry. Specify the name, command (the path to the executable), and icon for the launcher.

Step 3: Save Changes

Click OK to save the changes. The launcher will now appear in the menus.

Method 3: Using MenuLibre

MenuLibre is another powerful menu editor that can be used to create custom application launchers in Gnome Shell.

Step 1: Install MenuLibre

You can install MenuLibre from the Ubuntu repositories by running the following command:

sudo apt-get install menulibre

Step 2: Create a New Launcher

Open MenuLibre and click on New Launcher. Follow the guided process, specifying the binary location, icon location, working directories, etc.

Step 3: Save Changes

Click Save to save the changes. The launcher will now be created.

Method 4: Using MyLauncher Gnome Shell Extension

MyLauncher is a Gnome Shell extension that allows you to create a list of custom launchers accessible from the panel.

Step 1: Install MyLauncher

You can install MyLauncher from the Gnome Shell Extensions website.

Step 2: Create Custom Launchers

After installing MyLauncher, you can create custom launchers by specifying the name and command for each launcher.

Conclusion

Creating a custom application launcher in Gnome Shell can be done in several ways, each with its own benefits. Whether you prefer to do it manually, with a menu editor like Alacarte or MenuLibre, or with a Gnome Shell extension like MyLauncher, you have plenty of options to choose from.

Remember to always replace the placeholder paths and other details in the examples with your specific setup. Happy customizing!

How do I access Gnome Shell in Linux?

Gnome Shell is the default interface in many Linux distributions including Ubuntu and Fedora. It can be accessed by logging into your Linux system.

How do I create a custom application launcher manually?

To create a custom application launcher manually in Gnome Shell, you need to create a new desktop file with the .desktop extension, add the necessary content including the name, executable path, icon path, type, and categories, save the file in the appropriate location, make it executable if necessary, and restart Gnome Shell.

What is Alacarte?

Alacarte is a menu editor for Gnome that allows you to customize your application menus. It can be used to create custom application launchers by specifying the name, command, and icon for the launcher.

How do I install Alacarte?

Alacarte can be installed from the Ubuntu repositories by running the command sudo apt-get install alacarte in the terminal.

What is MenuLibre?

MenuLibre is another menu editor for Gnome Shell that allows you to customize your application menus. It can be used to create custom application launchers by specifying the binary location, icon location, working directories, etc.

How do I install MenuLibre?

MenuLibre can be installed from the Ubuntu repositories by running the command sudo apt-get install menulibre in the terminal.

What is MyLauncher Gnome Shell Extension?

MyLauncher is a Gnome Shell extension that allows you to create a list of custom application launchers accessible from the panel. It provides a convenient way to access your frequently used applications.

How do I install MyLauncher Gnome Shell Extension?

MyLauncher can be installed from the Gnome Shell Extensions website. You will need to have the Gnome Shell Extensions browser extension installed and enabled in your web browser to install and manage Gnome Shell extensions.

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