How to Enable the Desktop Right-Click menu in Gnome Shell?

Unlike with the classic version, the ‘new’ Gnome Shell does not come with a desktop right click menu. In the past, when you right click on the desktop, you could create a folder, document, copy-paste files or change the desktop background etc. But when you right click on the Gnome 3 desktop, nothing happens, why? because it’s disabled.

Now I’m not even gonna talk about this because to be honest, after trying the latest Fedora 17, I’m a bit pissed. Everyone said it’s so cool and gives you a ‘pure’ Gnome Shell experience … and you know what, they’re right about that ‘pure Gnome Shell experience’ thing because the entire OS behaves so much like Gnome Shell and gives you (or at least to me) a little taste of ‘hell’.

For example, the fonts look really ugly and there’s no way you can change them (unless you install ‘gnome-tweak-tool’ which requires an Internet connection) and it makes windows and menu’s look pretty big under my ‘decent’ 1366×768 resolution, where both Unity and Windows 7 look great!.


The default software manager too sucks when comparing with Debian’s awesome and powerful apt-get based ‘Synaptic’ because I searched for ‘pdf viewer’ in it, and it gave me a huge number of totally irrelevant results (not for just that term, the index is not polished in general), the installer’s user interface (aka ‘Anaconda’) looked like a 5 year old’s drawing (unusually big, looks cluttered etc), having issues while using the administrator password as sometimes the screen seems to be stuck etc etc.

If you’re someone who love Fedora, then I hope that my words have not offend your or anything, but, in my personal opinion ( I’ve been using Fedora even before it became Fedora, haven’t used a lot of recent releases to be honest), with both Fedora and Gnome (they have a pretty close relationship/characteristics), nothing has changed!.

The way I see Fedora is that, most of those people behind its community aren’t concerned about the ‘collective freedom’ but only the freedom of their own. They’re just so good at driving away most users who’re new to GNU/Linux and doing some heavy damages to the GNU/Linux platform in general.

Specially if you’re coming from an OS platform like MS Windows for instance, then the combined arrogance of both Fedora and Gnome can do a lot of damages/frustrations, wouldn’t you say?

Okay. That’s that! (had to let it out).

Anyhow, if you miss that good old desktop right click menu in Gnome 3/Shell, then you can easily get it back thanks to the awesome ‘gnome-tweak-tool’. Again, when considered the user friendliness (or customizations) that this simple tool can give you, one cannot think of nothing but pure ignorance as the only reason why Gnome doesn’t ship with it by default.

Step 1:

So folks, if you use Gnome Shell under Ubuntu/Debian, then enter the below command to install this tool.

sudo apt-get install gnome-tweak-tool

If you use Fedora 16 or 17, then enter the below command instead.

su -c ‘yum install gnome-tweak-tool’

Step 2:

Once the installation completes, search for ‘gnome tweak tool’ in the Activities Overview window and open it.

Step 3: Now from the left, click on the option called ‘Desktop‘ and then to your right side under the option called ‘Have file manager handle the desktop‘, you’ll see a small slider. Move that slider to the right-side to enable it, as shown in the below screenshot.


As soon as you do this, you should get the desktop right click back! (including the Computer, Home and Trash icons). If you don’t like those icons, then you can use the options below ‘Have the file manager …’ for disabling each one of them as well.

Any drawbacks after doing this?

Well, this could add few seconds to the desktop loading time as ‘Nautilus’ (file manager) too has to be loaded now. But then again, you’re gonna open it (file manager) pretty soon after logging into the desktop anyway, so, there’s noting to worry about :).

That’s it. Good luck (again, forgive me about those angry ramblings, don’t usually happen with me, but, everyone has their breaking point, right? ;-)).

An RHCE, 'Linux' user with 14+ years of experience. Extreme lover of Linux and FOSS. He is passionate to test every Linux distribution & compare with the previous release to write in-depth articles to help the FOSS community.

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