How to use your Home folder as your Desktop in Ubuntu

If you’re at all like me, your desktop can become rather cluttered with files over time. One way to at least have files stored in your /home folder rather than your /home/Desktop folder is to set your /home folder as your actual Desktop. This is particularly helpful if you use a separate larger drive as your /home folder.

Update: as Simple Help reader marco pointed out (see Comments section) there’s a much easier way to do this – that also works in modern (2021) versions of Ubuntu.

  1. First and most importantly – move any files or folders you currently have saved on your Desktop or they will be deleted during these steps. You’ve been warned! :)
  2. Open a Terminal and go to your home directory by typing:
  3. cd ~

  4. Delete your Desktop by typing:
  5. rmdir Desktop

  6. Now create a symbolic link for your Desktop by entering the command:
  7. ln -s . ./Desktop

Here’s the old method that doesn’t work in current versions of Ubuntu (but will still work in older versions).

It’s probably worth mentioning that this isn’t actually specific to Ubuntu. You can do this with any *nix distribution that uses Gnome as the desktop manager.

  1. Open the gconf-editor by typing Alt+F2 on your keyboard. Enter gconf-editor in the space provided and click the Run button.
  2. ubuntu run dialog box

  3. From the left navigation pane, select apps -> nautilus -> preferences. In the window on the right side, place a check in the box labeled desktop_is_home_dir. Close the gconf-editor.
  4. gconf-editor
    click to enlarge

  5. Save any open work and log out (press ctrl+alt+del on your keyboard). Sign in again, and your “Desktop” will actually be your /home folder.
  6. ubuntu desktop
    click to enlarge


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1 thought on “How to use your Home folder as your Desktop in Ubuntu”

  1. an alternative way to do so is, to create a symbolic link ‘Desktop’ that points to your home directory :

    #go to your home directory
    cd ~

    #remove folder ‘Desktop’
    rmdir Desktop

    #create symbolic link ‘Desktop’
    ln -s . ./Desktop

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