Software & AppsOperating SystemLinux

Where to Find Unity Launcher .desktop Files

Ubuntu 12

In this article, we will explore the locations where Unity Launcher .desktop files are stored in Ubuntu and other Linux distributions using the Unity desktop environment. These .desktop files are essentially shortcuts that are used to launch applications in Linux. Understanding where these files are located can be helpful when you want to customize your Unity Launcher or troubleshoot issues related to it.

Quick Answer

Unity Launcher .desktop files are stored in different locations depending on the type of installation. System-wide .desktop files are typically found in the /usr/share/applications directory, while user-specific .desktop files are stored in ~/.local/share/applications. In some cases, .desktop files may also be located in /usr/local/share/applications/ or /var/lib/snapd/desktop/applications. To search for a specific .desktop file, you can use the locate command. Creating custom .desktop files allows you to add custom applications to the Unity Launcher.

Global .desktop Files

System-wide .desktop files are typically stored in the /usr/share/applications directory. This is the primary location where applications installed for all users on the system place their .desktop files.

To navigate to this directory, open your terminal and type the following command:

cd /usr/share/applications

In this directory, you can view the list of all .desktop files by using the ls command:

ls

Local .desktop Files

User-specific .desktop files, on the other hand, are stored in the ~/.local/share/applications directory. These are typically .desktop files for applications that are installed only for the current user or custom .desktop files that you have created.

To navigate to this directory, use the following command in your terminal:

cd ~/.local/share/applications

Again, you can list all the .desktop files in this directory using the ls command.

Other Locations

In some less common scenarios, .desktop files may also be stored in the /usr/local/share/applications/ directory. This is typically used for applications that are manually installed from source.

For users who have installed applications using Snap, the .desktop files for these applications can be found in the /var/lib/snapd/desktop/applications directory.

Searching for .desktop Files

If you are unable to find a specific .desktop file in the above-mentioned locations, you can use the locate command to search for it. The locate command is a powerful tool that quickly finds files and directories on your system. Here’s how you can use it:

locate filename.desktop

Replace ‘filename’ with the name of the application you are looking for. This command will return all the paths where a file with this name is located.

Creating Custom .desktop Files

To add a custom application to the Unity Launcher, you can create a .desktop file in the appropriate directory. Here’s a basic example of what a .desktop file looks like:

[Desktop Entry]
Name=My Application
Exec=/path/to/application
Icon=/path/to/icon.png
Type=Application

In this file, Name is the name of the application, Exec is the command to run the application, Icon is the path to the icon file for the application, and Type is the type of the launcher file, which is Application for application launchers.

Once you have created your .desktop file, you need to make it executable using the chmod command:

chmod +x filename.desktop

After making it executable, you can drag and drop it onto the Unity Launcher to add it.

Conclusion

Understanding where .desktop files are located and how to work with them can greatly enhance your experience with the Unity Launcher. Whether you want to customize your launcher, add new applications to it, or troubleshoot issues, these files are key to the functionality of the Unity Launcher. By following the steps in this guide, you should now be able to navigate to these files, understand their purpose, and even create your own.

What is the purpose of Unity Launcher .desktop files?

Unity Launcher .desktop files are shortcuts that are used to launch applications in Linux. They provide a convenient way to access and launch applications from the Unity Launcher.

Where are global .desktop files stored?

Global .desktop files are typically stored in the /usr/share/applications directory. This is the primary location where applications installed for all users on the system place their .desktop files.

Where are user-specific .desktop files stored?

User-specific .desktop files are stored in the ~/.local/share/applications directory. These are typically .desktop files for applications that are installed only for the current user or custom .desktop files that you have created.

Can .desktop files be stored in other locations?

Yes, in some less common scenarios, .desktop files may also be stored in the /usr/local/share/applications/ directory for manually installed applications from source. For Snap applications, the .desktop files can be found in the /var/lib/snapd/desktop/applications directory.

How can I search for a specific .desktop file?

If you are unable to find a specific .desktop file in the mentioned locations, you can use the locate command in the terminal. For example, locate filename.desktop will return all the paths where a file with the specified name is located.

How can I create a custom .desktop file?

To create a custom .desktop file, you can use a text editor to create a file with a .desktop extension. The file should include the necessary fields such as Name, Exec, Icon, and Type. Once the file is created, make it executable using the chmod +x filename.desktop command, and you can then drag and drop it onto the Unity Launcher to add it.

What is the purpose of the `Type` field in a .desktop file?

The Type field in a .desktop file specifies the type of launcher file. For application launchers, the value should be set to Application.

Can I customize the Unity Launcher with .desktop files?

Yes, you can customize the Unity Launcher by adding or removing .desktop files. By creating or modifying .desktop files, you can add your own custom applications or remove existing ones from the Unity Launcher.

How can I troubleshoot issues related to the Unity Launcher?

If you encounter issues with the Unity Launcher, checking the .desktop files can be helpful. Make sure the .desktop file for the application is present and correctly configured. You can also try restarting the Unity Launcher or resetting its settings to resolve any issues.

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