Accessing The “Show Desktop” Icon In Ubuntu 12.10

If you have upgraded to Ubuntu 12.10 Quantal Quetzal like I do, you will know that it is not a bed of roses. While there are plenty of new features, there are some minor annoyances too, like the Grub boot up error and the missing of “Show Desktop” icon. I am a heavy user of the “Show Desktop” icon as I love to place Downloaded files on the desktop and access them quickly. Here are some ways that you can access the desktop in Ubuntu 12.10.

1. The “Alt + Tab” Shortcut Key

“Alt + Tab” is the commonly known keyboard shortcut for switching applications. In Ubuntu 12.10 (it could be around in earlier version of Ubuntu, but I didn’t notice it), when you press the “Alt + Tab” key, the first icon on the left is the “Show Desktop” icon. You can “Tab” your way to this icon to access your Desktop.


2. “Super + D” or “Ctrl + Alt + D” Shortcut keys

In Unity desktop, you can use the default “Ctrl + Alt + D” or the “Super + D” to access your desktop.

To change it to another shortcut key, go to “System Settings -> Keyboard -> Shortcuts”

On the left panel, select “Navigation” and scroll down the list on the right panel to “Hide all normal windows”. Click on it to enter your new keyboard shortcut.


3. Access “Show Desktop” from the Unity Launcher

If you prefer to use the mouse to click the “Show Desktop” icon in the Unity Launcher, here is how you can add the “Show Desktop” icon to the launcher.

1. Open a terminal and type:


2. Navigate to “com -> canonical -> unity -> launcher”.

At the “favorites” row, add 'unity://desktop-icon' (including the quote) to the front of the list.


3. Exit the dconf-editor. You should see the “Show Desktop” icon in your Unity launcher. You can drag it around to change its position.

4. Accessing the Desktop using screen corner

One of the trick that I love to do is to bind the “Show Desktop” command to a corner of my desktop. When I move my mouse to the assigned corner, the Desktop will appear. To achieve this, we will need to install the CompizConfig Settings Manager. You can click this link to install in Ubuntu Software Center, or in the terminal:

sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager

Once installed, open the CompizConfig Settings Manager and go to “General -> General Options”.

Under the “Key bindings” tab, scroll down to the “Show Desktop” row (the one with a monitor icon) and click the “None” button.


Click the corner that you want to assign for the “Show Desktop” function and click OK.


That’s it.

What other ways do you use to access your Desktop in Ubuntu?


Damien Oh started writing tech articles since 2007 and has over 10 years of experience in the tech industry. He is proficient in Windows, Linux, Mac, Android and iOS, and worked as a part time WordPress Developer. He is currently the owner and Editor-in-Chief of Make Tech Easier.

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