8 Really Useful Ubuntu Unity Quicklists

One of the useful features in Unity (Ubuntu Natty) is the adding of quicklists to the application icons in the launcher. For example, you can right click on the Google Chrome icon and access the option to open an incognito window, or right click the Gmail icon and select “Compose New Email” option. For those who came from the Windows background, this is very similar to the Windows 7’s taskbar jumplist.

Ubuntu came out with an API for the Unity launcher and anyone can create their own quicklists with a different modification of the configuration file. Currently there is no easy way to add a quicklist item. The following is the summary of the steps required to add a quicklist item:

1. Copy the desktop configuration file to your home folder.
2. Open the desktop configuration file with gedit.
3. Add the quicklist code to the file. The syntax is as follow:

The X-Ayatana-Desktop-Shortcuts code refers to the entries that appear when you right click on the app icon. The following [XXX shortcut Group] is the action for each entry.

1. Add Private/Safe mode, Profile Manager and your frequently accessed site to Firefox icon.

unity-firefox

Copy the Firefox desktop configuration file to your home folder.

Open the file with gedit.

Replace the line

with

Next, add the following code to the end of the file:

Save and close the file. Lastly, restart Unity

2. Add New Window and Incognito Mode to Google Chrome

This is assuming that you have installed Google Chrome in your Ubuntu.

unity-google-chrome

Run the command:

Add the following code to the end of the file:

Save and close the file. Restart Unity

3. Add Favorite and Bookmarks to Home Folder

This will allow you to access the various folders directly from the launcher.

unity-nautilus

Run the command:

Scroll down the file and replace the line:

with

Add the following code to the end of the file:

Save and close the file. Restart Unity

4. Make the LibreOffice Start Center More Useful

unity-libreoffice

Run the command:

Add the following code to the end of the file:

Save and close the file. Restart Unity

5. Add Custom Commands to the Terminal

The terminal is not an application that you will use frequently, but if you do, there will always be a few commands that you use regularly. You can add these commands to the quicklist for quick access.

unity-terminal

Run the command:

Scroll down the file and replace the line:

with

Next, add the following code to the end of the file:

Save and close the file. Restart Unity

6. Create a Google Services Center

If you use Google services as much as I do, this is going to be very useful to you.

unity-google-services

Open a text editor and copy/paste the following code:

Remember to change the icon file path (You can download the Google icon that I used here.) The code above uses Google Chrome. You can change it to use Firefox or your favorite browser.

Save the file with the name “google-services.desktop” in the folder “/home/username/.local/share/applications folder

Next, drag this file to the launcher.

7. Add Google Shortcut

Instead of accessing the Google services, if what you want is to have quick access to the various tasks in Google, like composing new email, adding a calendar, open a new doc etc, this is how you can do it.

unity-google-shortcuts

Open a text editor and copy/paste the following code:

Remember to change the icon file path.

Save the file with the name “google-shortcuts.desktop” in the folder “/home/username/.local/share/applications folder

Next, drag this file to the launcher.

8. Quick Add PPA in Ubuntu Software Center

Our usual method of adding PPA is via the terminal, but this could be a more efficient way.

unity-usc

Run the command:

Add the following code to the end of the file.

Save and close the file. Restart Unity

The above are only a small fraction of what you can do with the Unity quicklists. You can also checkout AskUbuntu for more quicklists.

Note: If after adding the quicklist code and it causes problems to your system, you can easily restore your system by deleting the respective .desktop file from /home/username/.local/share/applications folder and restart unity.

23 comments

  1. How would one change the Google Shortcuts desktop file to use Chromium instead of Chrome?

  2. Icon=/filepath/to/google-icon.png #change this filepath to the actual icon filepath

    Does not really work for me. I have downloaded the Google icon and stored it.

    ~/Download/icons/google-icon.png

    I replaced the path but it does not work… if I replace any path information by

    Icon=evolution

    The mail evolution symbol apears… some type of solution

    • It work for me. You have to use absolute path rather than relative path. Using a ‘~’ to represent home directory doesn’t work. I have to use filepath like “/home/damien/images/google.png” to get it working.

  3. I replaced
    Exec
    =
    /
    opt
    /
    google
    /
    chrome
    /
    google-chrome with Exec xdg-open http://www.google.com/ig. That way it will just open in whatever your default browser is and you won’t have to change it manually. You can change the URL to whatever you’d like it to be. This line determines what happens when when you click the launcher.

  4. DONT USE SUDO WITH GRAPHICAL APPLICATIONS!!
    IT IS HARMUL
    USE gksu WITH GRAPHICAL APPLCIATIONS UNLESS YOU WANT TO BORK YOUR SYSTEM.

    also in this case sudo or gksu is not require since we copied the file to a the local sahre which is owned by the user.

  5.  When i use the “Update & Upgrade System” tweak, i get:
    E: The update command takes no arguments
    Anyone know a fix? I tried running terminal with gksu but didn’t work.

    • gnome-terminal -t ‘Update and Upgrade System’ -e ‘sudo apt-get update’ -e ‘sudo apt-get dist-upgrade’

      • Sorry- this doesn’t work. It only does the last command when you pass commands to gnome-terminal like that.

    • Here’s the real fix:
      Exec=gnome-terminal -t ‘Updating & Upgrading System’ -x bash -c “sudo apt-get update ; sudo apt-get dist-upgrade”

  6. hi, i have tried the thrid option of adding more options to the home folder in launcher.. when i did the unity –replace….i lost the launcher, the whiole UI got screwed up…however the UI got restored when i did a restart…

  7. It’s great. Isn’t possible in Google Services and Shorcuts to add “default browser’ instead google chrome or something like that?

    • Yes, you can, just replace the line

      Exec=/opt/google/chrome/google-chrome

      with 

      Exec=x-www-browser

  8. Thanks for that…really useful.

    One problem I have, in the firefox launcher when I hit “open profile manager” it just opens a new version of the default profile instead of giving me the options of a,b or c.

  9. thanks for the tutorial. there is a easier way to edit the quick-list now. With Ubuntu tweak there is a frond-end now to do this. The end result is the same.

    One question, i want a quick-list inside the Thunderbird icon.
    Mark all messages as read.
    Do you know how to do that.

Comments are closed.

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