Edit your GNOME menus - gHacks Tech News

Edit your GNOME menus

Recently I instructed you how to "Manage your E17 menus". In that article you saw how easy it was to add to the E17 favorites menu and handle some of the configuration options for the Main menu. The surprising issue was that the Main menu could not be edited (at least not with some serious pain, suffering, and confusion).

In this article I am going to show you how to edit/manage your GNOME menus. This tasks in the GNOME desktop is actually much easier than it is in E17, plus you have the added bonus of actually being able to edit the "Main" menus. This article will illustrate this task with the help of Ubuntu 9.04 and GNOME 2.26.1.

The GNOME menus

In the GNOME desktop there are three menus: Applications, Places, and System. Only two of these menus can be "officially" edited: Applications and System. By "officially" I mean with the built in menu editing tool. The Places menu can be edited very easily as well, and only requires the use of the Nautilus file manager.

With that said, let's edit some menus.

Places

Since the Places menu is the easiest to edit, we'll start with that. In order to do this you need to open up the Nautilus file manager. When you are in this application you will notice a Bookmarks menu. That is the key. Click on that menu and take a look at the list of bookmarks. Now go to the Places menu and click on that. Do you see a similarity? You should, because they are the same. When you add a book mark to the Nautilus file manager it automatically adds itself to the Places menu.

Figure 1
Figure 1

To add a bookmark to Nautilus you just need to navigate to the directory you want to add and then click the Bookmarks menu and select Add Bookmark. You can also edit the bookmarks by select Edit Bookmarks from the Bookmarks menu in Nautilus. When you select that a new window will open (see Figure 1) where you can manage your bookmarks. The "Jump To" button, when clicked, takes you (in Nautilus) to whatever bookmark you have selected.

Applications and System menus

Figure 2
Figure 2

Both of these menus are edited with a handy tool called Alacarte. You access this tool by right clicking the menu area (upper left) in GNOME and selecting "Edit Menus". When you do this the menu editor will open (see Figure 2).

This menu editor is quite simple to use. Let's create a new menu entry. The entry we will create will be an entry to open the Firefox browser automatically to the Ghacks website. To do this click on the Internet menu (in the left pane) and then click the New Item button (in the right pane). A new window will open where you will enter the following information:

  • Type: Application
  • Name: Ghacks
  • Command: firefox https://www.ghacks.net
  • Comment: Ghacks

The icon should be picked up based on the Command you enter. Since it is an URL the web-mime icon will automatically appear. Enter the above information and click OK. The menu entry will automatically appear in your menu.

From this same window you can:

  • Reorder your menu entries.
  • Show or hide menu entries.
  • Add sub menus.
  • Delete menu entries.
  • Add separators.

Final thoughts

The GNOME desktop has one of the easiest to manage menu systems of any desktop (Linux or not). Give these tools a try and you will find you can make your GNOME menus into exactly what you need for your desktop.

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Edit your GNOME menus
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Edit your GNOME menus
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In this article I am going to show you how to edit/manage your GNOME menus. This tasks in the GNOME desktop is actually much easier than it is in E17, plus you have the added bonus of actually being able to edit the "Main" menus.
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Ghacks Technology News
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Comments

  1. pawpawyoung said on August 17, 2009 at 11:07 am
    Reply

    Very useful tips, thank you.

  2. James D said on August 17, 2009 at 11:20 pm
    Reply

    Okay, so how do you control the behavior of the Places menu as to whether it lists entries directly under Places or collapses them into a Bookmarks sub-menu? The word on the net is that that is impossible without manually recompiling GNOME, thanks to the design of Nautilus (which also makes multiple wallpapers unnecessarily difficult). Perhaps they should look at replacing Nautilus completely in GNOME 3, just as KDE has tried to move away from its swiss-army-knife file manager Konqueror.

  3. magnus said on August 18, 2009 at 12:16 pm
    Reply

    hey,

    Do you know how to edit menu from bash, from script.

    M.

  4. nk said on September 1, 2009 at 5:48 pm
    Reply

    “The GNOME desktop has one of the easiest to manage menu systems of any desktop (Linux or not)” – Surely you must be joking. Windows’ start menu is a LOT easier. Why isn’t there just a drag & drop facility. Alacarte is not stable and crashes.

  5. lee said on March 13, 2011 at 6:35 pm
    Reply

    “The GNOME desktop has one of the easiest to manage menu systems of any desktop (Linux or not)” – You have got to be kidding me. Seriously? Customizing Gnome menus is about as pleasant as a root canal. Whereas in Windows–XP, Vista, and 7–it was a simple and painless matter of drag-and dropping shortcuts and folders in the file manager. It’s just shortcut files and folders. It was so vastly easier and more sensible… Why can’t it be that easy in Gnome? I had to learn all about these arcane Freedesktop.org specifications and desktop files just to have enough clue about what’s going on to undo the damage I caused… And now I find that when I add a submenu to certain menus, it refuses to appear–I used to be able to do this with no problem, and I still can in some menus but mysteriously not in others… Although a .desktop file is created, the folder doesn’t appear in Alacarte or in the actual menu. At least now I understand where my changes are stored, so after I’ve painstakingly hand-crafted my personal menu structure (a multi-select feature was too much of a challenge for the Alacarte team to implement?) I can save it and back it up so I won’t have to go through this torture again.

    I’ve been using Linux for almost a year now, and rarely miss Windows, but dealing with Gnome menus makes me want to throw Ubuntu out the Window.

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