Can no longer drag and drop files between desktop and applications

Bug #1813441 reported by Jonathan Kamens on 2019-01-27
This bug affects 47 people
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
gnome-shell-extension-desktop-icons (Ubuntu)

Bug Description

In releases before 19.04, you could drag and drop files from the desktop into applications.

This no longer works.

ProblemType: Bug
DistroRelease: Ubuntu 19.04
Package: gnome-shell-extension-desktop-icons 19.01-1
ProcVersionSignature: Ubuntu 4.18.0-13.14-generic 4.18.17
Uname: Linux 4.18.0-13-generic x86_64
NonfreeKernelModules: nvidia_modeset nvidia
ApportVersion: 2.20.10-0ubuntu19
Architecture: amd64
CurrentDesktop: ubuntu:GNOME
Date: Sat Jan 26 21:47:14 2019
InstallationDate: Installed on 2019-01-02 (24 days ago)
InstallationMedia: Ubuntu 18.10 "Cosmic Cuttlefish" - Release amd64 (20181017.3)
PackageArchitecture: all
SourcePackage: gnome-shell-extension-desktop-icons
UpgradeStatus: Upgraded to disco on 2019-01-21 (5 days ago)

Jonathan Kamens (jik) wrote :
Launchpad Janitor (janitor) wrote :

Status changed to 'Confirmed' because the bug affects multiple users.

Changed in gnome-shell-extension-desktop-icons (Ubuntu):
status: New → Confirmed
Sebastien Bacher (seb128) wrote :
Changed in gnome-shell-extension-desktop-icons (Ubuntu):
importance: Undecided → Low
status: Confirmed → Triaged
Jonathan Kamens (jik) wrote :

I think you mean to link this to

I question your designation of this as a "Low" importance issue. This is going to be a huge deal for people when 19.04 is released if it's not fixed by then.

Sebastien Bacher (seb128) wrote :

Let's see how much of a deal that is, you can still dnd from a nautilus view on the desktop or double click on the file so it's easy to workaround...

Jonathan Kamens (jik) wrote :

>you can still dnd from a nautilus view on the desktop

Right, because it's not like the reason why I put files on my Desktop is because I use them often and want to be able to open quickly, or like having to open a Nautilus window, click on Desktop, and then double-click on the file to open it is slower than just being able to open the file directly on the desktop. That's definitely not a stupid usability regression that anyone who keeps files on their desktops is going to notice right away.

>or double click on the file so it's easy to workaround...

Except that I frequently want to open files (images, text files) with something other than the default application, and double-clicking doesn't do that, and another thing that's missing from the extension is the "Open with other application" right-click menu command (

As one of my friends commented when I told him about all the absurd regressions introduced by ripping this code out of Nautilus and moving it to an incompletely implemented GNOME shell extension: #ThisIsWhyIUseKDE

Frankly, I'm just about ready to switch myself. The penchant of GNOME's developers for regressing functionality because they don't seem to understand how people actually use their software is a long-standing, incredibly frustrating problem.

Panoramix (panoramix-carlos) wrote :

nautilus is the problem. when I replaced nautilus with nemo everything works correctly

Sebastien Bacher (seb128) wrote :

Would be worth report to nautilus upstream then

Tom Reynolds (tomreyn) wrote :

Possible duplicates: #1822254 #858913

Changed in gnome-shell-extension-desktop-icons:
status: Unknown → New
summary: - Can no longer drag and drop files from desktop into applications
+ Can no longer drag and drop files between desktop and applications
Changed in gnome-shell-extension-desktop-icons (Ubuntu):
importance: Low → Wishlist
tags: added: desktop-lts-wishlist
Emanuele (emanuc) wrote :

Being able to move Applications from the Menu to the desktop or move documents from the file manager to the desktop is a function that is required by many users, it is a feature that any OS and Linux Desktop has, for years that I use my PC for the first time. it's such a limit, and only GNOME-Shell has it.
Is there anyone working on it or is there a plan to get it?

Applies to 19.10 as well

Changed in gnome-shell-extension-desktop-icons (Ubuntu):
importance: Wishlist → Medium
tags: added: focal
removed: disco
tags: added: eoan
sami (miaousami) wrote :

Applies to 20.04.

Is there at least any kind of workaround?
This is quite annoying.

sami (miaousami) wrote :

Here is a workaround for ubuntu 20.04:
    1. remove gnome extension `sudo rm -r /usr/share/gnome-shell/extensions/desktop-icons@csoriano/`
    2. install nemo: see and replace `dnf` with `apt`.

Current gnome desktop-icons extension is useless because you just can't interact with icons. I really don't get it how it came into an LTS release... :-(

Linked bug report:

dundir (dundir) wrote :

I didn't realize my bug was a duplicate (

This is a big issue for desktop users, I almost rolled back immediately.
I'll still be rolling back due to other bugs I've found since Friday, but in the meantime I did find a slightly better way of working around the issue for 20.04 which I had posted in my bug post. I'll repost it here:

In /usr/share/gnome-shell/modes/ there is a json file ubuntu.json. It has a list of enabled extensions one of which is the desktop-icons extension. It looks like this:

    "parentMode": "user",
    "stylesheetName": "Yaru/gnome-shell.css",
    "themeResourceName": "theme/Yaru/gnome-shell-theme.gresource",
    "debugFlags": ["backtrace-crashes-all"],
    "enabledExtensions": ["<email address hidden>", "<email address hidden>", "desktop-icons@csoriano"]

Editing ubuntu.json and removing the entry and extra comma for desktop-icons, disables the extension from a single point. After that working around the issue using nemo provides desktop icons, delete hotkeys, and drag/drop functionality that was previously non-functional.

ooshlablu (ooshlablu) wrote :

For what it's worth, this also prevents icons from working with multiple dock applications in the gnome-flashback session: cairo-dock, docky, avant window navigator. The launchers are created, but just show up with "?" icons.

Norbert (nrbrtx) on 2020-05-11
tags: added: groovy
removed: third-party-packages
Carlos García (carlosgarciaq) wrote :

Confirmed, happening to me as well in Ubuntu 20.04... I cannot understand why you think the importance of this is "Low" or "Wishlist"... It looks to me quite serious, the desktop is used every day and most people are used to this functionality, which is uniform across the system... but not in the desktop now.

It makes ubuntu look quite bad, really.

Moritz (mostu) wrote :

I agree with Carlos Garcia.

This is a functionality that everyone expects to work out of the box today.

It is frustrating to see that in every Ubuntu release something like this comes up. Another example making ubuntu look bad: I also had to add the "show desktop" icon manually to the system today. Wtf.

Daniel van Vugt (vanvugt) wrote :

We are somewhat trapped. It's a choice between using the old version of nautilus forever with bugs and incompatibilities, or the new version of nautilus without desktop support. Those are not good choices but they are all we have now. This is not a problem created by, or unique to Ubuntu.

Indeed comment #14 links to the *official* recommended workaround.

Salim B (salim-b) wrote :

> We are somewhat trapped. It's a choice between using the old version of nautilus forever with bugs and incompatibilities, or the new version of nautilus without desktop support. Those are not good choices but they are all we have now. This is not a problem created by, or unique to Ubuntu.

That seems not quite accurate. Of course, using the whole GNOME 3 desktop incl. latest Nautilus is the way to go for Ubuntu. The absence of proper "desktop support" is unfortunate. Also sad: The current state of the official replacement for Nautilus' desktop support, the GNOME Shell extension "Desktop Icons", is pretty premature (still limited keyboard support etc.).


1. Why does Ubuntu force its users to stick with an outdated version of the GNOME Shell extension "Desktop Icons"? Ubuntu ships the extension via the DEB package `gnome-shell-extension-desktop-icons` which *cannot* be removed without also removing the packages `ubuntu-desktop` and `ubuntu-desktop-minimal`. This completely sucks. Because of the pre-installed extension DEB package, one cannot install/update the latest upstream version of the extension from

2. Why doesn't Canonical assign some of its developer ressources to improving the "Desktop Icons" extension? This would not only benefit The Ubuntu ecosystem but every Linux distro shipping the GNOME 3 desktop. The sources are found here:


For the time being, Ubuntu users can use the following workaround to get the latest version of the "Desktop Icons" extension which already brings limited drag-and-drop support and keyboard support:

Ensure you have 7-Zip, Git and Meson installed (e.g. via the Debian packages `p7zip`, `git` and `meson`), then run the following in a terminal to update the extension:

cd /usr/share/gnome-shell/extensions

# backup the DEB-packaged extension if not already done before and delete it
if [ ! -s desktop-icons_bckp.7z ] ; then sudo 7z a desktop-icons_bckp.7z desktop-icons@csoriano/* ; fi
rm -R desktop-icons@csoriano

# build and copy the extension from git master branch
git clone <email address hidden>:World/ShellExtensions/desktop-icons.git ~/desktop-icons
cd ~/desktop-icons
unzip <email address hidden> -d desktop-icons@csoriano
sudo mv desktop-icons@csoriano /usr/share/gnome-shell/extensions/

# clean up
rm -R ~/desktop-icons

Daniel van Vugt (vanvugt) wrote :

1. That is bug 1832407 you are describing. Although you don't actually need to be able to remove the extension package in order to replace it. Installing any extension locally for your own account will override the system version.

2. Canonical does contribute to desktop-icons when we have time.

Hai NGUYEN VAN (psaxl) wrote :

A bit more explanation can be found here:

However, I am extremely disappointed. Ubuntu addresses general public, not only nerds who don't make use of desktop icons.

Norbert (nrbrtx) wrote :

@Hai NGUYEN VAN (psaxl)

The solution was already given at - simply remove GNOME Shell and install MATE instead. Or Xfce, or KDE.

tags: removed: eoan
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