Ubuntu Unity .desktop

In order to add your launcher to the Unity Launcher on the left, you have to place your .desktop file at /usr/share/applications/ or at ~/.local/share/applications/. After moving your file there, search for it in the Dash (Windows key -> type the name of the application) and drag and drop it to the Unity Launcher. Now your launcher (.desktop file) is locked on the Unity Launcher! If your desktop file cannot be found by doing a search from the Dash, you may need to read on…

To be more certain that your .desktop file will work properly, use the desktop file validator, which will notify you of any errors or omissions. If there are no errors, desktop-file-validator will exit silently.

Once the file validates correctly, install it to the default location (probably /usr/share/applications) using the desktop-file-install program. This step may require superuser privileges. The desktop-file-install program may add some lines of its own to your .desktop file. There is no need to have the .desktop file be executable by anyone.

Please note that desktop-file-validate tends to be oversensitive at times, which means that it can output error messages on perfectly working .desktop files. Those error messages should be better seen as warnings rather than anything else. For more information on desktop entry specification please refer to http://standards.freedesktop.org/desktop-entry-spec/latest/

To create a simple custom .desktop you will need to add these entries to a .desktop file of your choice in ~/.local/share/applications/

nano ~/.local/share/applications/your_application_name.desktop
[Desktop Entry]
Name=the name you want shown
Exec=command to run
Icon=icon name

For extra options for your .desktop file you can visit this site. All the options available are very well described there.

You can also copy a existing application’s .desktop file from /usr/share/applications/to your ~/.local/share/applications/ and edit it to fit your needs.

ie: this will copy gedit .desktop file to the folder where the .desktop files should be saved for a user

cd ~/.local/share/applications
sudo cp /usr/share/applications/gedit.desktop .

After that open that location using nautilus ~/.local/share/applications/ and drag n drop the file you have just created to the Unity launcher.

Has an option instead of drag n dropping the file you can open dconf-editor (install it with sudo apt-get install dconf-tools or look for it in the USC) and navigate to desktop.unity.launcher and edit the key favorites by double clicking on the entries to the right of the key.

To add your custom launcher add it at the position you want with this format ‘/home//.local/share/applications/.desktop’. Don’t forget to respect the , and the spaces in that line and make sure that the line starts and ends with [ and ]respectively.

With this method you will need to log off and back in for the change in favorites to take effect. This will make it appear in the dash