Add Application Shortcuts to your Desktop in Ubuntu 12.04 (Precise Pangolin)

You probably already know that Ubuntu Desktop is pretty much empty. There are no application icons on the desktop when you first install Ubuntu. And adding desktop icons wasn’t easy in previous versions of Ubuntu with Unity installed. Today I’m going to show you how to add your favorite icons to the desktop in Ubuntu 12.04 easily. You can do this by just dragging icons from Dash to your desktop, but doing that won’t always work. When you try to launch the icons, you’ll get errors like ‘Untrusted application launcher’ , ‘the application launcher has not been marked as trusted’.


  • Add desktop icons in Ubuntu 12.04 (Precise Pangolin)
  • Enjoy!

To get started, open Dash and begin dragging your favorite apps to your desktop as shown below.




Next, press Ctrl – Alt – T on your keyboard to open Terminal. When it opens, run the commands below.

sudo chmod +x ~/Desktop/*.desktop




Next, run the commands below to assume ownership of all the icons on your desktop.

sudo chown <username> ~/Desktop/*.desktop




That’s it!





27 thoughts on “Add Application Shortcuts to your Desktop in Ubuntu 12.04 (Precise Pangolin)”

  1. Yep. support ubuntu for many years. But frankly the did wrong thing on the new version.
    I ma not ready to go back to MS but sure they will have to correct the crappy bad iseas they had.

  2. It’s just two clicks in XP.

    And you don’t have to enter your password every 5 minutes.

    Geeks just love being Geeky!

  3. why? cant do anything with that bar on the left and you cant drag anything on the desktop without… well read the insanity above.

    How to lose all your novice users in one easy step:

    1) Install a gui where usability wasn’t even an afterthought during design.

    Please leave the people who designed this in 1976 and get some people who at least read a book on user experience.

  4. While I agree that it could have been a little more user friendly, this is far from a deal breaker for me as a new user. And to those going back to winblows after what amounts to a minor inconvenience, well, good riddance.

  5. Whoa, why all this complaining? Okay so it takes longer to make icons…and?? You forgot how much time and money you spent dealing with windows maintenance-updates that take ages to download and slow down your pc, new antivirus every year, de-frag, clean-up, new versions of ms word that takes hours to re-learn, the nightmare that was vista, and then every few years you’re buying a new pc because windows slows down no matter what you do. Fuggetaboutit.

    Seriously, I use a second-hand computer that cost me $100 and it runs super fast on Ubuntu. No way you can beat that. There’s very little I need to know to run this OS, and certainly less than I needed to know dealing with windows.

    I love Ubuntu!

    1. I have been using Linux since the early 90s when there was just xTerm or the shell.

      I started using it commercially for businesses using samba and apache 10-15 years ago. That was because from a professional viewpoint it was finally enterprise ready – if you knew how to use the command line / bash shell and were comfortable in a text only environment.

      Desktop wise I am still waiting to see one that is ready for the average user. Most users don’t want to go near the command line and in reality they shouldn’t. Joe average is not a programmer or geek, they just want to hop onto their computer, browse files, listen to music, surf the net etc.

      The desktop is an integral part of that and every step away from making it easier is a coffin nail in Linuxs adoption by the masses. Microsoft have learnt this the hard way with their introduction of Win8 and the removal of the start menu, task bar etc. People have flocked to Apple in droves and most businesses revert their Os back to Win7.

      One of the basic fundamentals of the Linux universe has always been choice. Ubuntu have reversed that drastically by removing the choice of how users access their desktop. Unity is a disaster for most average users. The wasted space of a blank desktop makes no sense and the geek elitists who ask why folks dont use text files and the command line are out of their skulls. Seriously, if people want to use a command line they would ditch the gui and use a command line. the reason people who choose to install a gui do so is because they want to use a drag and drop gui, not a command line.

      Forcing users to access the command line to work around the arbitrary choices of the dev teams is completely un-linux. it reeks of the same ‘we know best’ attitude shown by Microsoft, Apple and other similar hedgemonies.

      To the Linux Dev folks – bring back choice. Let your user base choose if they want Unity and no desktop or if they want a Microsoft / Apple like experience with desktops, icnos, drag and drop and right click functionality.

      Less is not more, it’s less.

      As always the views and spelling mistakes are mine.

  6. Thank you so much for this info. I’m still relatively new to Linux (Ubuntu to be more especific). I agree that they could have been much more user friendly in this sense but Ubuntu is a great piece of OS and best of all, it’s free! I will post this on my website, I am trying to make it computer resourceful! I hope that you don’t mind and I will put a link to this guide as well since I can’t find your name on here. If you wish me not to put it just fill out the form on my website and let me know. :) Although I don’t see why you wouldn’t want me to drop it there. Again, thanks!

  7. You do not need all these steps. After dragging the link to your desktop, right-click on it and select “Properties”. Go to the tab Permissions and check the box “Execute: Allow executing file as program”.

  8. I am using 13.10 Ubuntu, but drag-drop is not working.
    it says “The specified location is not supported”.

    Any idea about this ?

  9. Running 12.04, kernel 3.8.0-35 and all I had to do was right click and drag from Unity Dash Home to desktop, when I double click the respective icon the program runs. Checking file permissions and ownership old fashion UNIX way (command line) permissions are correct (for x) and ownership is me (logged in user) as per the steps in this article. Right clicking on desktop icon and looking at properties also reports same.

  10. Hi,
    Im using ubuntu 13.10. I tried your steps. But I got an error message as “The specified location is not supported” while draging item to the desktop.
    Please Help.

  11. Very helpful.

    Now if there were a way to modify an instance of that icon to take a default action.
    Say add a terminal icon and set its properties, (ala windows style) to execute a command.


  12. I hate Ubuntu for this very reason! Great desktop until you try to drag & drop an Icon to it. I am not good with Linux commands and cannot get this to work, nor should I have too. Maybe I can get my buddy to install gnome or I will just install Fedora.

    This is total bullshit. Unity sux ballz IMO. Give me Windows 7 over this. Can’t some one patch this garbage?

  13. Open gedit in ubuntu copy the below instruction
    save the file as application_name.desktop.
    Here I assume that my netbean installation files in the following directory
    change the path according to your needs.

    [Desktop Entry]
    Comment=your comments

  14. @Rahul
    So, you have to install netbeans, find the installation files, and save an “application_name.desktop” file to where??
    That may open netbeans (if you can start the file).
    Now, how to put items on the desktop?
    You will have to be a little more specific to be understandable.

    1. @ Hi hako,
      Create & place “application_name.desktop”( eg :- Netbeans.desktop) file to your Desktop, It will be an icon, for that particular application. & can be used to open application by double click.

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