How should we use the Desktop Folder in Gnome?

Hi All,

I am fairly new to Gnome, so this is no controversy topic to rehash old debates but a genuine question.

My conundrum is:

  • There is a default Desktop folder in /home

  • There are several Workplaces to separate distinct work themes

  • No icon should be installed on the Desktop (well that’s not the intended design in Gnome 41+ anyway)

  • The files and folders that we put in the Desktop folder do not show “on” the Desktop

So…: How should we use the Desktop Folder vs the “Desktop - Background”

Thanks !

  • The should be no icon displayed on the desktop

The “Desktop” folder is mandated by the xdg-user-dirs specification and tooling, and a lot of tools expect its existence.

The Desktop directory has nothing to do with the desktop background; additionally the Desktop directory can only be one per user, so it has nothing to do with workspaces either, which are created dynamically.

The suggestion is to simply ignore the Desktop directory. GTK hides it from the quick links in its file selection dialogs, and Nautilus does it too. You can only navigate into it. In theory, you can delete it as well, but applications like Firefox and Steam will likely recreate it.

Well specs can be changed. I think it’s long past time to improve this. GNOME removed desktop icons over a decade ago, and we shouldn’t need to keep this legacy folder around. But I do not have any good suggestions for how to remove it.

Changing the default $XDG_DESKTOP_DIR from ~/Desktop to ~/.Desktop seems like a good starting point. (If Firefox ignores that and creates ~/Desktop anyway – hopefully not – then that is not our problem.) But that would be problematic for desktops that do have desktop icons. So I’m not sure what we can really do.

Thank you for your reply !

Either way now I have a Desktop folder that is NOT the Desktop Background.
So I do agree that at least in the naming, something has to be done for the “Desktop”-folder and/or the “Desktop”-Background (may be just that: refer to it as a Background…)

(And being a newbie here) when icons and folders were removed from the Background, what were the intended use-cases replacements ?

Thus my second question: what is the use/ how should I use the Background ?
Surely not to waste all this graphic space for a beautiful wallpaper… beside opening windows that’s pretty much how I use my Background now. What I am missing ?

And if the wallpaper is intended to “signal” a Workspace could it be that specific wallpapers be assigned to specific/designated workspaces ?

Nautilus still respects the .hidden file, so in theory, putting “Desktop” into ~/.hidden will hide the Desktop folder in the Nautilus view. I use ~/.hidden to hide ~/snap and ~/go.

$ cat ~/.hidden

I had no idea. We should probably use that.

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