How to Hide Desktop Icons in Ubuntu

If you are new to Linux and are using Ubuntu, you may find it frustrating that there's no instant option to easily hide/show desktop icons just like in Windows. But there's no need to worry as there are several ways to minimize or eliminate your desktop clutter and hide some or even all the icons from your Ubuntu desktop.

Hiding home, computer, network, drives, and trash desktop icons:

To hide the home, computer, network, drives, and trash icons, simply open Configuration Editor by pressing Alt-F2, type gconf-editor, and run it.

Inside the Configuration Editor, navigate to apps --> nautilus --> desktop. At the right-hand pane, you should see several checkboxes. Just uncheck the box that corresponds to the icon that you would like to hide.

Hiding all the desktop icons:

To hide all the icons from your Ubuntu desktop including perhaps your downloaded files and documents, open the Configuration Editor, navigate to apps --> nautilus --> preferences, and then locate show_desktop item from the right-hand pane. Uncheck the box and voila, all of your desktop icons should be gone by then.

Hiding desktop icons using Ubuntu Tweak:

If you have already installed this popular application called Ubuntu Tweak, you can use it in hiding your desktop icons in a simpler way than I've shown above.

Using Ubuntu Tweak, just go to Desktop Icon Settings, and then uncheck the icon or icons that you would like to hide. For those of you who have not installed Ubuntu Tweak yet, just get it using Synaptic Package Manager or through Ubuntu Software Center.That's about it.

If you have other ways in hiding Ubuntu desktop icons, share them with us via comment.


  1. Thank you for this tip. I've been wanting to hide my icons in Ubuntu to clean up my desktop and because I love the minimalist look.


  2. AnonymousJune 22, 2010

    I am curious:
    Why do you want to hide the icons on your Desktop?
    If you dont like them just delete them.
    Or move them away like:
    mv ~/Desktop ~/Desktop_with_icons && mkdir Desktop && nautilus -q
    rmdir ~/Desktop && mv ~/Desktop_with_icons ~/Desktop && nautilus -q

  3. this was really useful to me. now i don't have to see mounted partitions on my desktop!
    thank you

  4. If there are certain files (actual files/folders, not the special Computer/Home/Trash icons or mounted volumes) that you would like to hide from the desktop, place the file names into a ".hidden" file within the desktop folder, one filename per line.

    Example file: ~/Desktop/.hidden
    # file1
    # file2

    This .hidden file is read by Nautilus in ANY folder. I use it extensively on the partition I share between Ubuntu and Windows to hide 'desktop.ini' and 'Thumbs.db' files.

  5. AnonymousJuly 11, 2011

    this way prevents the right click

  6. @Anonymous 1: There are plenty of reasons to want to hide desktop icons. I like having folders on my desktop, but if I'm concentrating on a particular assignment, it's nice to have a clean background that isn't distracting. Deleting or moving the items is not an option because I like to use them where they are. In windows, it's super easy: you just right-click the desktop, and in the menu that pops up, under view, you "uncheck" view desktop icons. I wish Ubuntu had an equivalent.

  7. Nautilus in Oneiric is using gsettings and not gconf, you can use this:

    preferences options will not work for Oneiric. The following setting(command)O will be useful
    gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.background show-desktop-icons false