Linux Commands Examples

A great documentation place for Linux commands


command line tool for (un)installing icons to the desktop

see also : xdg-icon-resource


xdg-desktop-icon install [--novendor] FILE

xdg-desktop-icon uninstall FILE

xdg-desktop-icon {--help | --manual | --version}

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The company ShinyThings Inc. has developed an application named "WebMirror" and would like to add a launcher for for on the desktop. The company will use "shinythings" as its vendor id. In order to add the application to the desktop there needs to be a .desktop file for the application:


[Desktop Entry]



Now the xdg-desktop-icon tool can be used to add the webmirror.desktop file to the desktop:

xdg-desktop-icon install ./shinythings-webmirror.desktop

To add a README file to the desktop as well, the following command can be used:

xdg-desktop-icon install ./shinythings-README


The xdg-desktop-icon program can be used to install an application launcher or other file on the desktop of the current user.

An application launcher is represented by a *.desktop file. Desktop files are defined by the Desktop Entry Specification. The most important aspects of *.desktop files are summarized below.



Normally, xdg-desktop-icon checks to ensure that a *.desktop file to be installed has a vendor prefix. This option can be used to disable that check.

A vendor prefix consists of alpha characters ([a-zA-Z]) and is terminated with a dash ("-"). Companies and organizations are encouraged to use a word or phrase, preferably the organizations name, for which they hold a trademark as their vendor prefix. The purpose of the vendor prefix is to prevent name conflicts.


Show command synopsis.


Show this manualpage.


Show the xdg-utils version information.



Installs FILE to the desktop of the current user. FILE can be a *.desktop file or any other type of file.


Removes FILE from the desktop of the current user.


Copyright © 2006

desktop files

An application launcher can be added to the desktop by installing a *.desktop file. A *.desktop file consists of a [Desktop Entry] header followed by several Key=Value lines.

A *.desktop file can provide a name and description for an application in several different languages. This is done by adding a language code as used by LC_MESSAGES in square brackets behind the Key. This way one can specify different values for the same Key depending on the currently selected language.

The following keys are often used:


This is a mandatory field to indicate that the *.desktop file follows the 1.0 version of the specification.


This is a mandatory field that indicates that the *.desktop file describes an application launcher.

Name=Application Name

The name of the application. For example Mozilla

GenericName=Generic Name

A generic description of the application. For example Web Browser


Optional field to specify a tooltip for the application. For example Visit websites on the Internet

Icon=Icon File

The icon to use for the application. This can either be an absolute path to an image file or an icon-name. If an icon-name is provided an image lookup by name is done in the user's current icon theme. The xdg-icon-resource command can be used to install image files into icon themes. The advantage of using an icon-name instead of an absolute path is that with an icon-name the application icon can be provided in several different sizes as well as in several differently themed styles.

Exec=Command Line

The command line to start the application. If the application can open files the %f placeholder should be specified. When a file is dropped on the application launcher the %f is replaced with the file path of the dropped file. If multiple files can be specified on the command line the %F placeholder should be used instead of %f. If the application is able to open URLs in addition to local files then %u or %U can be used instead of %f or %F.

For a complete oveview of the *.desktop file format please visit

environment variables

xdg-desktop-icon honours the following environment variables:


Setting this environment variable to a non-zero numerical value makes xdg-desktop-icon do more verbose reporting on stderr. Setting a higher value increases the verbosity.

exit codes

An exit code of 0 indicates success while a non-zero exit code indicates failure. The following failure codes can be returned:


Error in command line syntax.


One of the files passed on the command line did not exist.


A required tool could not be found.


The action failed.


No permission to read one of the files passed on the command line.

see also



Kevin Krammer


Jeremy White


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