Adding LXDE start menu entries and desktop shortcuts
June 29, 2012 88 Comments
Update: this post has been viewed more than 2,000 times, but no-one left a comment. It took me 2 hours to write it and it will only take you 2 minutes to leave a comment… what are you waiting for ?
Note: if you want to instead create a new start menu section or sub-sections (ie: “sub-menus”), check this post.
First, a screenshot to explain what I mean by “desktop shortcut”, “start menu section” and “start menu sub-section” (click on the image if you want to correctly see it):
Adding start menu entries and/or desktop shortcuts (launchers) in LXDE is certainly not as easy as under Windows.
I’ve recently installed the cool hardinfo tool which is an application that lists all your computer hardware. Unfortunately, the hardfo installer doesn’t add any menu entry in the LXDE start menu (I’m talking about the one that is displayed when you click on the button located at the bottom left of your desktop).
OK, let’s add a menu entry for hardinfo by ourselves.
1. Adding a new menu entry
All menu entries correspond to a .desktop file, and these .desktop files can be in one of the following locations:
- ~/.local/share/applications (note that this folder may not exist on a brand new LXDE installation, but you can create it manually)
[laurent@localhost applications]$ ll /usr/share/applications total 460 -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 9693 Feb 18 20:18 authconfig.desktop -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 177 Apr 20 05:11 eekboard.desktop -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 1699 Feb 27 22:31 fedora-abiword.desktop -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 6001 May 10 15:07 fedora-abrt.desktop
Since .desktop files can be located in 3 different folders, which one should you use ? I suggest that you create your .desktop file in the ~/.local/share/applications folder. This way, the shortcuts that you create will not impact other users.
LXDE ships with a .desktop file editor called LXShortcut. It’s the application that is launched when you right click on a menu entry and choose the “Properties” option:
However, I think that this tool sucks for creating new menu entries. Here is why:
- There is no way to create a .desktop file from the LXShortcut GUI: you need to specify the filename on the command line (“-o” option)
- It uses different command line options to create (-o) and to edit (-i) .desktop files.
- There is no way to edit the category name (ie: “where the entry is going to be located in the menu”).
For all these reasons, it’s just easier to use a text editor to create your .desktop file.
Here is mine:
[laurent@localhost applications]$ cat ~/.local/share/applications/hardinfo.desktop [Desktop Entry] Encoding=UTF-8 Type=Application Name=Hardware info Name[en_US]=Hardware info Exec=/usr/bin/hardinfo Comment[en_US]=Hardware info StartupNotify=true
As you can see, the ‘Exec’ property contains the location of the ‘hardinfo’ application.
Now launch “lxpanelctl restart” so that LXDE picks up your changes:
[laurent@localhost applications]$ lxpanelctl restart
By default, your new menu entry is part of the ‘Other’ category.
What if you want to put in another category ? That’s where the ‘Categories’ property comes into play: valid values for this property are listed here.
Note that the ‘freedesktop’ categories do not directly map to the LXDE category names, so here is the mapping between LXDE categories and freedesktop categories:
- Accessories <-> Utility
- Graphics <-> Graphics
- Internet <-> Network
- Office <-> Office
- Sound & Video <-> AudioVideo
- System Tools <-> System
So if you want your shortcut to be part of the LXDE ‘Accessories’ category, you need to add the ‘Categories=Utility’ property:
[laurent@localhost applications]$ cat ~/.local/share/applications/hardinfo.desktop [Desktop Entry] Encoding=UTF-8 Type=Application Name=Hardware info Name[en_US]=Hardware info Exec=/usr/bin/hardinfo Comment[en_US]=Hardware info StartupNotify=true Categories=Utility
2. Adding an application shortcut on your desktop
To add a shortcut on your desktop, right click on an existing menu entry and choose the ‘Add to desktop’ option.
In practice, this simply puts a copy of an existing .desktop file in the $HOME/Desktop folder:
[laurent@localhost ~]$ ll $HOME/Desktop total 4 -rw-------. 1 laurent laurent 165 Jun 28 17:53 hardinfo.desktop
This means that if you want to create a desktop shortcut for an application that is not in your start menu, you just need to create a .desktop file in $HOME/desktop, as explained in the previous chapter.
Alternatively, you can right-click anywhere on your desktop and choose the “Shortcut” option: this will launch the “LXShortcut” tool.
3. Adding a folder shortcut on your desktop
This time, right clicking on your desktop and choosing “Create new > Shortcut” will not work since this can only be used to create application shortcut.
To create a folder shortcut, you need to manually create a .desktop file in the ~/Desktop folder.
For example, a shortcut for the /home/laurent/Documents folder would look like this:
[laurent@localhost Desktop]$ cat ~/Desktop/myOtherShortcut.desktop [Desktop Entry] Encoding=UTF-8 Type=Application Icon=system-file-manager Name=My Folder Shortcut Exec=pcmanfm /home/laurent/Documents Comment[en_US]=
Basically, we are are just asking pcmanfm to open the “/home/laurent/Documents” folder. Also, I’m using the pcmanfm “system-file-manager” icon, but you can choose to use any icon that you want.
3. Changing the shorcut icon
OK, one more LXDE madness: it looks like the icons can either be located in /usr/share/pixmaps or in /usr/share/icons.
I guess I need to study this and create a new post… stay tuned 😉