Install a desktop file

Write and install a desktop file so that users can discover and launch your application.

GNOME uses the Desktop Entry and Desktop Menu specifications to describe application launchers. Installing a desktop file is the standard way to register your application with GNOME and other desktops.

A desktop file lists your application binary, name and type, and can also list an icon, description and several other pieces of information about launching an application.

For a hypothetical application My Application, a desktop file would look as follows:


[Desktop Entry]
Name=My Application
Comment=Do the thing that the application does

The [Desktop Entry] line indicates that this is a desktop file. It is followed by keys, which describe the application launcher. The Name key is the human-readable name of the application, to be shown in the UI. The application binary is listed in the Exec key, either the complete path or a binary that is looked up in the PATH. The last required key is the Type, which for applications is always Application. Alternative types are listed in the desktop entry specification.

Other fields in the desktop file are optional, but recommended. Applications should install an icon, and list the name of the icon (excluding the extension) in the Icon key. The Comment is a brief description of the application. To help users when browsing applications, the Categories key should be populated with a list of categories, separated by a semicolon, from the Desktop Menu Specification.

There are several other keys that can be added to desktop files, which are listed and described in the Desktop Entry Specification.