How To Add an Item To The GNOME Menu For All Users

July 30, 2009 by
Filed under: gnome, HowTo, linux, Ubuntu 

I've shown previously how to add an item to Ubuntu's (or any Gnome desktop) menu, but that post only showed how to edit the menu for a single user. In this post I'll show how to add an item to the menu so it shows up for every user on the system. I'm going to add a special icon to launch a terminal window from the Applications->Accessories menu in Ubuntu. You can find more info at the GNOME Documentation Library.

Create a Desktop Launcher

Right click on the Desktop and select Create Launcher. Enter a name, I'll call mine Tux Term. Enter the command, in my case it's gnome-terminal.

Create a Launcher for Tux Term

Create a Launcher for Tux Term

Click OK. You'll now have an icon for Tux Term on your desktop.

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Edit the Launcher File

You need to add a line to the launcher file that you just created. Double click on your new icon to launch a terminal for the next step.

cd ~/Desktop
gedit "Tux Term.desktop"

Add the following line to the end of the file and save it.


The Utility category will make the menu item show up in Applications->Accessories. For the full list of categories, see the GNOME Menu spec for Registered Categories.

Copy the Launcher File to the System Directory

Enter the following terminal command:


You should get something that looks like


Your output might be slightly different. This means that I can put a launcher file in any of the three directories listed. If your system doesn't list a directory, then put your file in /usr/share/applications/. In my case, /usr/local/share/applications/ seems like the best location. You need to be the root user to copy the file to the system directory.  It's easiest to use the terminal.

cd ~/Desktop
sudo cp "Tux Term.desktop" /usr/local/share/applications

Edit the System Menu

Check to see that the $XDG_CONFIG_DIRS variable is set.


If you got output from that, then edit the menu file with:

sudo gedit $XDG_CONFIG_DIRS/menus/

If your echo command did not yield a result, then edit the /etc/xdg/menus/ file.

sudo gedit /etc/xdg/menus/

Find the following section of the file and add the lines in bold.

   <Filename>Tux Term.desktop</Filename>

Save the file and exit the text editor.

You're new Tux Term launcher will now show up in the Applications->Accessories menu. You can use the User Switcher to log in as a different user and verify that the menu item shows up there as well.


4 Responses to “How To Add an Item To The GNOME Menu For All Users”

  1. Kabloc Vacavoa says:

    Hi, Very good post!!!

    But how can I do this for a launcher in gnome panel?


  2. Osmumos says:

    This has worked for me on Cent OS 6.2. I did not complete the last step as I realized the Menu Items had already been added.


  3. Carsten says:

    Hi Linerd,

    I've created a quick tutorial to do the same trick (in a perhaps easier way) here:

    Instead of editing the .menu file directly, I simply use the xdg-desktop-menu install command to populate the menu with the .launcher file.


  4. Bas Douma says:

    Great tip Linerd,

    I have just added an icon for Dutch version of Mozilla-thunderbird in Ubuntu 9.10 for all users and it works like a charm!

    Kind regards,

    Bas Douma

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