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How To Fix Disappearing Desktop Icons on Ubuntu 18.04

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In this guide, we will walk you through some effective troubleshooting steps to fix the issue of disappearing desktop icons on Ubuntu 18.04. This problem can occur due to various reasons, including system updates, accidental changes in settings, or issues with GNOME Shell extensions.

Check the Contents of the ~/Desktop Folder

The first step in troubleshooting is to check the contents of the ~/Desktop folder. Desktop icons in Ubuntu are displayed for files that have a “.desktop” extension and are located in the ~/Desktop folder.

To check the contents of this folder, open a terminal (Ctrl+Alt+T) and run the following command:

ls ~/Desktop

This command will list all the files in your Desktop directory. If you don’t see any files or the “.desktop” files are missing, this could be the reason why your desktop icons have disappeared.

You can manually move or create “.desktop” files in this folder to restore the icons on the desktop.

Enable the “Show icons” Option in GNOME Tweaks

If the previous step didn’t solve the issue, you should check if the “Show icons” option is enabled in the GNOME Tweaks tool.

If you don’t have GNOME Tweaks installed, you can install it using the following command:

sudo apt install gnome-tweaks

After installing GNOME Tweaks, open it and navigate to the “Desktop” section. Here, make sure that the “Show icons” option is enabled.

If the icons still don’t appear or if the Home folder opens instead, you should try the next solution.

Install the “Desktop Icons” Extension

Another possible solution is to install the “Desktop Icons” extension for GNOME Shell. This extension adds the classic desktop icons functionality to GNOME Shell.

You can install this extension by visiting the GNOME Shell Extensions website and searching for “Desktop Icons”. After installing the extension, restart your system. This should allow you to see the icons on the desktop.

Please note that while this solution can restore the desktop icons, it may not provide full functionality for moving or deleting icons.

Consider Using an Alternative Desktop Environment

If none of the above solutions work, you might want to consider using an alternative desktop environment. One such option is Xubuntu, which is known for its lightweight nature and traditional desktop metaphor interface.

You can install the xubuntu-desktop package by running the following command:

sudo apt install xubuntu-desktop

After the installation is complete, log out and select Xubuntu as your desktop environment from the login screen. This may resolve the issue and bring back the desktop icons.

Conclusion

Disappearing desktop icons on Ubuntu 18.04 can be a frustrating issue, but it can usually be resolved by following the steps outlined in this guide. Whether it’s checking the ~/Desktop folder, enabling the “Show icons” option in GNOME Tweaks, installing the “Desktop Icons” extension, or switching to an alternative desktop environment, one of these solutions should help restore your missing desktop icons.

Why did my desktop icons disappear on Ubuntu 18.04?

Desktop icons can disappear on Ubuntu 18.04 due to system updates, accidental changes in settings, or issues with GNOME Shell extensions.

How can I check the contents of the ~/Desktop folder?

To check the contents of the ~/Desktop folder, open a terminal (Ctrl+Alt+T) and run the command "ls ~/Desktop". This will list all the files in your Desktop directory.

What should I do if the “.desktop” files are missing from the ~/Desktop folder?

If the ".desktop" files are missing from the ~/Desktop folder, you can manually move or create them in this folder to restore the icons on the desktop.

How can I enable the “Show icons” option in GNOME Tweaks?

To enable the "Show icons" option in GNOME Tweaks, first, make sure you have GNOME Tweaks installed by running the command "sudo apt install gnome-tweaks". Then, open GNOME Tweaks, navigate to the "Desktop" section, and enable the "Show icons" option.

What should I do if the icons still don’t appear or if the Home folder opens instead?

If the icons still don’t appear or if the Home folder opens instead, you can try installing the "Desktop Icons" extension for GNOME Shell. Visit the GNOME Shell Extensions website, search for "Desktop Icons", install the extension, and restart your system.

Can the “Desktop Icons” extension provide full functionality for moving or deleting icons?

No, the "Desktop Icons" extension may not provide full functionality for moving or deleting icons. It primarily adds the classic desktop icons functionality to GNOME Shell.

What alternative desktop environment can I use if the previous solutions don’t work?

If the previous solutions don’t work, you can consider using an alternative desktop environment like Xubuntu. You can install the xubuntu-desktop package by running the command "sudo apt install xubuntu-desktop". After installation, log out and select Xubuntu as your desktop environment from the login screen.

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