5 Ways to Hide Desktop Icons in Ubuntu

Finally get a clean Ubuntu desktop.

Hide Desktop Icons In Ubuntu Featured

If hiding the top bar and side panel isn’t enough, and you want everything removed from your Ubuntu desktop, then you’d probably also like to get rid of those pesky icons on its surface. Read on to learn how you can hide desktop icons in Ubuntu.

1. The Extensions Prefs App

The latest versions of Ubuntu include, by default, an “Extensions” app, allowing you to modify and expand how your desktop works. You can find it among your existing apps.

Find Extensions App In Installed Apps on Ubuntu

If it is not installed for some reason, open the terminal and type:

sudo apt install gnome-shell-extension-prefs
Terminal Command To Install Extensions App in Ubuntu

Run the app after it’s installed.

Support for hiding all desktop icons is already built in to the Extensions app, so you only have to click on the “Desktop Icons” switch to toggle their displays on or off.

Extensions App Option To Hide Desktop Icons In Ubuntu

In most cases, though, you also need a second click – the Extensions’ effects won’t be applied on your desktop if you don’t enable the Extensions themselves. You can do this with the toggle switch at the top of the window next to the “Extensions” title.

Apply Changes in Extensions App in Ubuntu

If you don’t want to hide all icons on your desktop, just the Home folder and Trash icon, leave the support for icons enabled, then click on the cog button next to the toggle switch, which leads to a new window with some extra options.

Hide Icons In Ubuntu Customize Icons Desktop

From this window, you can use the pull-down menu on the top to define the size of your desktop icons and enable or disable the display of the Home folder and Trash icon through two respective switches.

Clean Ubuntu Desktop After Hiding Desktop Icons

2. Via the Terminal

If you’d rather not use the GUI, it’s easy enough to hide your desktop icons using the terminal. You can hide just the Home and/or Trash icons or hide all desktop icons.

Tip: if you’re having any trouble opening the terminal in Ubuntu, try these troubleshooting steps.

Open a terminal instance and enter the following commands one at a time to hide Trash or Home:

gsettings set org.gnome.shell.extensions.desktop-icons show-trash false
gsettings set org.gnome.shell.extensions.desktop-icons show-home false

3. Using Extensions

A similar method to the Extensions Prefs app is Extensions. While both lead to the Extensions UI, this method uses the Dconf Editor, which is a more advanced system editing tool that goes beyond just editing desktop icons. Dconf Editor also uses Desktop Icons NG (DING) versus just the Desktop Icons (in the Extensions Pref) app.

Either method works equally well, but if you have any problems hiding desktop icons with the Extensions Pref method, use this method instead.

Open Terminal and run:

sudo apt install dconf-editor

You may need to enter your password to continue. Once installed, open Extensions and turn off “Desktop Icons NG.”

How To Hide Desktop Icons On Ubuntu 20.04 Extensions

You can also open Terminal and enter:

gnome-extensions disable ding@rastersoft.com

Another option is to keep Desktop Icons NG (DING) enabled, then right-click the desktop and choose “Desktop Settings.” Remove whichever icons you would like.

4. Using Gnome Tweak Tool

This is an incredibly helpful tool for tweaking Ubuntu, so it’s worth installing even if you don’t care about the desktop icons. You can install Gnome Tweak Tool by entering the following in Terminal:

sudo apt install gnome-tweaks

You may also be able to find it in the Software Center by searching for “tweaks.”

Once opened, go to the Desktop section and change the settings as desired.

How To Hide Desktop Icons On Ubuntu 20.04 Tweaks

5. Disable Display of Personal Folder

If you have Ubuntu 22.04, you can use Settings to toggle the Personal (or Home) folder to “off.” This won’t hide any other desktop icons, but if that’s all you want to hide, this works well.

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Select “Appearance.”
  3. Toggle “Show Personal folder” to off.
Hide Desktop Icons In Ubuntu Personal

Frequently Asked Questions

Why can't I find Gnome Tweak Tool in the Software Center?

You may not have the right repository installed. If it’s not listed in the Software Center, and you get an error when trying to install from the terminal, try the following:

sudo add-apt-repository universe

sudo add-apt-repository multiverse

sudo apt update

This gives Ubuntu access to more repositories so that it can install more software packages.

Can I just hide mounted drives?

Yes. If you’d prefer to keep other desktop icons, enter the following in terminal to hide mounted drives:

gsettings set org.gnome.shell.extensions.dash-to-dock show-mounts false

What else can the Gnome Tweak Tool (Tweaks) do?

Since there are other methods to hiding desktop icons in Ubuntu, you may wonder whether it’s worth installing Gnome Tweak Tool. In addition to changing your desktop, you can customize the entire appearance of Ubuntu, manage extensions, control keyboard and mouse settings, speed up the desktop, change fonts, adjust power settings, configure application windows, and more. This is all from an easy-to-use GUI.

Can a script hide the desktop icons in Ubuntu?

Sort of. Instead of removing them from the desktop, you can use a script to put everything into a hidden folder. Something like the following should work:

ls ~/Desktop > ~/Desktop/.hidden

If you’re not sure how to use scripts and bash commands in Linux, check out our previous tutorial which walks you through the most important commands you need to know.

All screenshots by Crystal Crowder

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