Change the 'Desktop' directory on Linux

On desktop setups where icons are shown on the desktop these are normally taken from the specific folder ~/Desktop. If you find you want to show icons from either your Home or another directory for a particular install/user you can do so by editing the user-dirs config file as described here.

Open your text editor and browse to ~/.config

~ here refers to your home directory and .config is a hidden file (starts with a .). If you use the open dialog of most text editors you should be able to paste the path in directly to get to the correct folder.

Look for file named user-dirs.dirs and open it for editing.

The file should contain a line that looks like the following (or perhaps another folder depending on your setup.

XDG_DESKTOP_DIR=”$HOME/Desktop/”

Simply change that line to point to the folder you wish to use for your desktop. For example:

XDG_DESKTOP_DIR="$HOME/"

XDG_DESKTOP_DIR="/var/log/"

XDG_DESKTOP_DIR="$HOME/../shared/Desktop"

You can also change other folders in this file including your Documents folder for example.


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