Currently I'm using i3 window manager (but I guess that this applies to other non-standard window managers as well). Whenever I run nautilus it also starts a full screen desktop, which I have to close.

Possible solution is to start nautilus with: nautilus --browser --no-desktop, which solves this problem only partially, as sometimes nautilus is launched automatically by other applications and in this case it would be launched without --browser --no-desktop options.

Is there any gnome3 config option that allows me to suppress desktop launching?

2 Answers 2


Yes, there is a dconf value that controls this. Run the following command to disable drawing of the desktop by Nautilus:

gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.background show-desktop-icons false

Source: https://askubuntu.com/a/237984/81372

  • This is a step in right direction, now if I call nautilus i don't get destop. But still some other app will launch nautilus with desktop.
    – jb.
    Sep 3, 2014 at 14:02
  • @jb Mmh, that's strange. Unfortunately that's all I know, sorry. Sep 3, 2014 at 15:49
  • Works perfectly for me
    – lakshayg
    Jun 12, 2015 at 18:34
  • This simple command is essential for i3 window manager, where the gnome "desktop" otherwise overtakes the entire i3 workspace, making it unusable. Thanks so much!
    – jchook
    Oct 25, 2017 at 3:05

If you don't want to turn off show-desktop-icons permanently, maybe because you also use another window manager or desktop such as GNOME or Unity you create a new .desktop file which specifies the command to use to open nautilus. For example, ~/.local/share/applications/nautilus.desktop:

[Desktop Entry]
Comment=Access and organize files
Exec=nautilus --new-window --no-desktop

This only works if you are using an application launcher such as i3-dmenu-desktop which support the desktop standard.

For example in ~/.config/i3/config you could have any of the following:

bindsym $mod+space exec --no-startup-id i3-dmenu-desktop
bindsym $mod+space exec --no-startup-id i3-dmenu-desktop --dmenu='dmenu -i'

The example .desktop file above will show up in the launcher as "Files", as per the Name attribute. It will also show up as "files" if you are running with case insensitivity, dmenu -i.

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