Chapter 8. Using Your Desktop

Desktop Objects

A desktop object is an icon on your desktop that you can use to open your files, folders, and applications. By default, your desktop contains four objects. You can also add objects to your desktop to provide convenient access to files, folders, applications, and URIs that you use frequently. For example, you can add a launcher to your desktop to enable you to open a particular application that you use often.

Table 8.2, “Types of Desktop Objects” describes the types of object that you can add to your desktop.

Table 8.2. Types of Desktop Objects

Object Type

Description

Symbolic link

A symbolic link is an object that points to another file or folder. When you choose a symbolic link from the desktop, the file or folder that the symbolic link points to is opened. You can move or copy a symbolic link to the desktop.

You can identify symbolic links by the default arrow emblem that appears on all symbolic links.

Launcher

You can add the following types of launcher to the desktop:

  • Application: Starts a particular application.

  • Link: Links to a particular file, folder, or URI.

File

You can add files to your desktop. Files on your desktop reside in your desktop directory.

Folder

You can move folders to your desktop, and you can create folders on your desktop. Folders on your desktop reside in your desktop directory.

The following sections describe how to work with objects on the desktop.

To Select Objects on the Desktop

To select an object on the desktop, click on the object. To select multiple objects, press-and-hold Ctrl, then click on the objects that you want to select.

You can also select an area on the desktop to select all objects within that area. Click-and-hold on the desktop, then drag over the area that contains the objects that you want to select. When you click-and-hold then drag, a rectangle appears to mark the area that you select.

To select multiple areas, press-and-hold Ctrl, then drag over the areas that you want to select.

To Open an Object from the Desktop

To open an object from the desktop, double-click on the object. Alternatively, right-click on the object, then choose Open. When you open an object, the default action for the object executes. For example, if the object is a text file, the text file opens in a file manager window. The default actions for file types are specified in the File Types and Programs preference tool.

To execute an action other than the default action for an object, right-click on the object, then choose Open With. Choose an action from the Open With submenu.

The items in the Open With submenu correspond to the contents of the following parts of the File Types and Programs preference tool:

  • Default action drop-down list in the Edit file type dialog

  • Viewer Component drop-down list in the Edit file type dialog

You can set your preferences in a file manager window so that you click once on a file to execute the default action.

To Add a Launcher to the Desktop

A desktop launcher can start an application or link to a particular file, folder, FTP site, or URI location.

To add a launcher to your desktop, perform the following steps:

  1. Right-click on the desktop, then choose Create Launcher. A Create Launcher dialog is displayed.

  2. For information on how to enter the properties of the launcher in the Create Launcher dialog, see Working With Panels. The command that you enter for the launcher is the command that is executed when you use the desktop object.

You can also drag an application launcher from a menu to the desktop. For example, you can open a menu that contains a launcher for an application that you use often, then drag the launcher to your desktop.

To Add a Symbolic Link to the Desktop

You can create symbolic links on your desktop to perform the following actions:

  • Open a particular file in a particular application.

  • Open a particular folder in a file manager window.

  • Run a binary file or a script.

To create a symbolic link on the desktop, perform the following steps:

  1. Display the file or folder for which you want to create a symbolic link in a file manager window.

  2. Create a symbolic link to the file or folder. To create a symbolic link to a file or folder, select the file or folder to which you want to create a link. Choose Edit->Make Link. A link to the file or folder is added to the current folder. You can identify symbolic links by the default arrow emblem that appears on all symbolic links. The following figure shows a symbolic link to a file:

    File icon with symbolic link emblem.
  3. Drag the symbolic link to the desktop. The icon for the object is moved to the desktop.

Adding a File or Folder to the Desktop

The following sections describe how you can add file objects and folder objects to the desktop.

To Move a File or Folder to the Desktop

You can move a file or folder from the file manager to the desktop. To move a file or folder to the desktop, perform the following steps:

  1. Open a file manager window.

  2. In the view pane, display the file or folder that you want to move.

  3. Drag the file or folder to the desktop. The icon for the file or folder is moved to the desktop. The file or folder is moved to your desktop directory.

    Alternatively, select the file or folder, then choose Edit->Cut Files. Right-click on any desktop object, then choose Paste Files.

To Copy a File or Folder to the Desktop

You can copy a file or folder from the file manager to the desktop. To copy a file or folder to the desktop, perform the following steps:

  1. Open a file manager window.

  2. In the view pane, display the file or folder that you want to move.

  3. Press-and-hold Ctrl, then drag the file or folder to the desktop. An icon for the file or folder is added to the desktop. The file or folder is copied to your desktop directory.

    Alternatively, select the file or folder, then choose Edit->Copy Files. Right-click on any desktop object, then choose Paste Files.

To Create a Folder Object on the Desktop

To create a folder object, right-click on the desktop to open the Desktop menu. Choose Create Folder. An untitled folder is added to the desktop. Type the name of the new folder, then press Return. The folder is displayed with the new name. The new folder resides in your desktop directory.

To Rename a Desktop Object

To rename a desktop object, right-click on the object, then choose Rename. The name of the desktop object is highlighted. Type the new name for the object, then press Return.

To Remove an Object from the Desktop

To remove an object from the desktop, right-click on the object, then choose Move to Trash. Alternatively, drag the object to Trash.

Note

When you move a file or folder from a removable media to Trash, the file or folder is stored in a Trash location on the removable media. To remove the file or folder permanently from the removable media, you must empty Trash.

To Delete an Object from the Desktop

When you delete an object from the desktop, the object is not moved to Trash, but is immediately deleted from the desktop. The Delete menu item is only available if you select the Include a Delete command that bypasses Trash option in the NautilusFile Management Preferences dialog.

To delete an object from the desktop right-click on the object, then choose Delete.

Note

You cannot delete the Home or Trash desktop objects.

To View the Properties of a Desktop Object

To view the properties of a desktop object, perform the following steps:

  1. Right-click on the object whose properties you want to view, then choose Properties. A properties dialog is displayed.

  2. Use the properties dialog to view the properties of the desktop object.

  3. Click Close to close the properties dialog.

To Change the Permissions of a Desktop Object

To change the permissions of a desktop object, perform the following steps:

  1. Right-click on the object whose permissions you want to change, then choose Properties. A properties dialog is displayed.

  2. Click on the Permissions tab to display the Permissions tabbed section.

  3. In the Permissions tabbed section, use the drop-down lists and check boxes to change the permissions for the file or folder. For more information on the dialog elements in the Permissions tabbed section, see Nautilus File Manager.

  4. Click Close to close the properties dialog.

To Add an Emblem to a Desktop Object

To add an emblem to a desktop object, perform the following steps:

  1. Right-click on the object to which you want to add an emblem, then choose Properties. A properties dialog is displayed.

  2. Click on the Emblems tab to display the Emblems tabbed section.

  3. Select the emblem to add to the item.

  4. Click Close to close the properties dialog.

To Add a Note to a Desktop Object

To add a note to a desktop object, perform the following steps:

  1. Select the object to which you want to add a note.

  2. Choose File->Properties. A properties dialog is displayed.

  3. Click on the Notes tab. In the Notes tabbed section, type the note.

  4. Click Close to close the properties dialog. A note emblem is added to the desktop object.

To delete a note, delete the note text from the Notes tabbed section.

To Change the Icon for a Desktop Object

To change the icon for desktop object, perform the following steps:

  1. Right-click on the object whose permissions you want to change, then choose Properties. A properties dialog is displayed.

  2. On the Basic tabbed section, click on the Select Custom Icon button. A Select an icon dialog is displayed.

  3. Use the Select an icon dialog to choose the icon to represent the file or folder.

  4. Click Close to close the properties dialog.

To restore an icon from a custom icon to the default icon specified in the File Types and Programs preference tool, right-click on the icon then choose Remove Custom Icon. Alternatively, click on the Remove Custom Icon button on the Properties dialog.

To Resize a Desktop Object Icon

You can change the size of the icon that represents a desktop object. To change the size of an icon on the desktop, perform the following steps:

  1. Right-click on the desktop object whose icon you want to resize, then choose Stretch Icon. A rectangle appears around the icon, with a handle at each corner.

  2. Grab one of the handles, then drag the icon to the size that you want.

    To return the icon to the original size, right-click on the icon, then choose Restore Icon's Original Size.