I just added and modified a .desktop file in my /home/user/.local/share/applications folder.

Is there any way to refresh the icon and caption in the list of applications without logging out?


You can restart the gnome-shell by pressing Alt+F2 and then typing in either "restart" or just "r" and pressing Enter.

Otherwise I've noticed that it automatically refreshes .desktop files after waiting a little while.

  • Well, that alt-f2 really made is so I didn't even need to do it. and I did notice that it was refreshing my applications. Now all my applications are gone. I must have messed something up! But there must be cron job to do it then eh? I'll check there. – Peter Turner Apr 27 '11 at 13:41
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    Worked perfectly for me – garryp Mar 10 '16 at 18:44
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    This will show "Restart is not available on Wayland" as of gnome-shell-3.20 – lkraav Jun 27 '16 at 22:40

From Desktop entries in Arch linux wiki, this works on later versions of Gnome:

update-desktop-database ~/.local/share/applications

Cross-posting this from the Ubuntu question site.

You need to:

  • Update the timestamp on the top-level icon directory
  • Run gtk-update-icon-cache

Note: hicolor is the default theme which app developers should use. if you're making an icon theme, refresh your icon theme's folder instead.

sudo touch /usr/share/icons/hicolor ~/.local/share/icons/hicolor
sudo gtk-update-icon-cache

See (the only documentation I can find for this): https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Packaging:Scriptlets#Icon_Cache

  • when running wayland, doing alt+f2, and then run "r" wont work. This saved me a lot of time. (otherwise have to logout and login again) – Daverix Nov 28 '17 at 11:50
  • the "touch" trick saves my day! – tai271828 Jan 26 at 9:59

I tried few ways, including these posted here, but none worked except this one

gnome-shell --replace & disown

  • Well.... this worked but it also pooched my Gnome. I got a 'Oh no! Something has gone wrong' message. But the desktop files were updated :-/ – Timothy C. Quinn Dec 17 '20 at 19:58

Please refer to the XDG Desktop Menu Specification. To update the list of available desktop launchers in the Applications menu please run:

xdg-desktop-menu forceupdate

The update will be reflected in couple seconds.

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