Missing desktop icons in Ubuntu/Gnome

Ever since I installed Ubuntu I’ve not been able to right-click my desktop – as in, I right-clicked and no menu appeared.

Also, I never had any icons on my desktop.

I could view my ~/Desktop folder in Nautilus and place files there, but they never actually appeared on my desktop.

Compared to all the other things I was setting up this was just a minor annoyance – but today I was able to give it my full attention and thereby allow it to become a major annoyance.

The important thing to note here is that I always keep my home directory between installs – so clearly I had some strange setting from way back hidden in a config file somewhere (and Gnome gives you a lot of config files).

Anyway, suffice to say, after much hacking and googling I found a page advising me how to fix the problem.

Following the instrucions to restore the Trash Can at SystemTools – Configurator Editor – Nautilus… I disable and enable the Preferences – show_desktop option and now I have my lost icons again.

The “show_desktop” option – if only they were all that simple.

4 thoughts on “Missing desktop icons in Ubuntu/Gnome”

  1. It’s nearly two years and several Ubuntu/Gnome versions later, but this fix just worked for me. Thank you!


    Just ran across this post.

    Same thing happened to me, strange, but system was still working.

    I did an apt-get for Nautilus and it loaded. So maybe I un-installed nautilis? Still didn’t give me it in the menu as described. so I ran it from the command line and everything came back with just the command nautilis.



  3. i recently updated mu Ubuntu 7.1 version on my compaq laptop only for it to ask me to resatrt for the installations of the new packages to be done fully but after that the icons on my desktop just kept flushing or blinking alot time after time and real dissapeared infact i cant see any thg on my dek top neither can i right click
    tried gconf-editor and clicked show desk top option but still nothing.
    even when i click Places on the panel then home folder or my computer. it just blinks once and dissapears .
    any help

  4. Hi,
    All these things was not working for me, but i accidentally found soluttion.
    I use Gnome classic. Open System tools -> Preferences -> Advanced Settings
    In desktop section was turned off all settings. When set to ON i get back my desktop icons 🙂

    Maybe this will work for someone else.

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