I am running Linux Mint 18.2 64-bit from an external HDD with Gnome 3 as the desktop. I have several *.desktop files in my Desktop folder. But, they are not showing up. I have tried installing gnome-tweak-tools and toggling Icons on Desktop but it does nothing.

How can I get my desktop to be active? Thanks!

EDIT : I really don't think the issue is my *.desktop files because they are just the ones that come with the apps. But, in case there is something weird with gnome, here it is one of them:

#!/usr/bin/env xdg-open
[Desktop Entry]
X-AppInstall-Keywords= pigeon;gaim;chat;windows;live;aim
Name=Pidgin Internet Messenger
GenericName=Internet Messenger
Comment=Chat over IM.  Supports AIM, Google Talk, Jabber/XMPP, MSN, Yahoo and more


1 Answer 1


Could you please post the contents of one/some of your *.desktop files? It could be that they are not properly formatted.

(I would have just commented, but apparently I don't have enough points to do so)

Edit: I apologize. I didn't read your question carefully & didn't realize that the real issue was that the desktop was not active & the icons were not showing up (even with the fact that the title is very clear).

I do not use Gnome 3, but there is some info around the web on its desktop configuration. This post, by Joe Steiger, says to launch dconf-editor & navigate to "org > gnome > desktop > background" & check the box labeled "show-desktop-icons".

enter image description here

I should have remembered about dconf-editor. I don't think I've used it since I started using Linux Mint with Cinnamon desktop. Anyway, I hope this solves your problem.

  • I added it to the question. Too long to put in a comment.
    – Batcastle
    Dec 7, 2017 at 13:24
  • Okay, it looks alright to me. Are your .desktop files marked as executable? I believe some desktop environments only properly recognize them if the executable bit is set: $ sudo chmod +x my_desktop_file.desktop. Or change executable properties from your desktop environment's right-click -> Properties option, if available. Dec 8, 2017 at 1:08
  • Yes. They are marked as executable. I checked both the files and the menu which you mention before posting this. It's behaving as if there is a recommended package missing. In other words, it's working just fine otherwise, just this functionality isn't available for some reason.
    – Batcastle
    Dec 9, 2017 at 17:29
  • I updated my answer. Sorry about my misunderstanding. Dec 11, 2017 at 5:32
  • You don't need sudo if the files belong to you. Only use sudo if you really need to do so.
    – roaima
    Dec 11, 2017 at 8:30

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