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How to add new menu items to XFCE menu

Just create a simple text file and you're done.

Do you have the need to add a new application to my XFCE menu? Unfortunately, there are many confusing ways of doing it. In this article I want to tackle my favorite one: simple, easy, no-bullxxxt.

Suppose you want to add a new program, say CLion (which is a pleasant IDE, even if I can't stand such tools) to your XFCE menu. First of all, you have to prepare a simple .desktop file that contains some information on the executable and the program itself.

Writing the .destkop file

Open your text editor and type something like the following:

[Desktop Entry]

What to change in the above template:

  • Name — put here the name of the application. This will be displayed in the menu;
  • Exec — path to the executable file. For example /opt/clion-2016.2/bin/;
  • Icon — path to the icon file. Example: /opt/clion-2016.2/bin/clion.svg;
  • Categories — semicolon-separated list of categories. Here is a list of what you can choose from.

There are several additional parameters you can add, but what you see above should be enough. The last step: put that file somewhere useful, so that the system can be aware of it and update the menu accordingly.

Place the .desktop file in the right place

You can place that file both in /usr/share/applications or in [your-home]/.local/share/applications. What's the difference? The former will enable the menu entry for every user, the latter only for you.


Xubuntugeek - Add items to Xfce Applications Menu (link)
FreeDesktop - Desktop Menu Specification (link)

nux on April 12, 2018 at 14:06
Very neat little thing those .desktop files. Thanks for the hint.
windows geek on January 25, 2019 at 12:31
yo xfce, it's 2019 callin', you heard drag'n'drop, bro? they introduced it in windows 98, now it's time for linux to realize we're in 21st century!
Triangles on January 26, 2019 at 11:40
@windows geek mmmm drag'n'drop... isn't it about cooking pasta?
fu7zed on May 11, 2019 at 10:06
@windows geek
have you ever tried to compare idle ram usage, M$ Windows vs any XFCE desktop based distribution ?
Windows = ease of use
XFCE = lghtweight and fast
geez ...
I dont use windows much on June 10, 2019 at 06:45
But I agree. Menulibre and alacarte both suck. It shouldnt be that much work to add the ability to add/remove launchers from an heirarchical menu and quite honestly its been sucking this way for a long time. Now i see in my dmesg where my usb mouse disconnects itself again and again and thats been dispositioned as 'wont fix' by ubuntu for several versions now. Maybe its time to stop congratulating yourself for unix's early success and actually fix some stuff.
chris on June 28, 2019 at 20:30
Thanks! Hope you never take this page down, I'm too stupid to make a copy :D
Khalfani on July 03, 2019 at 06:05
I don't think this should be easier.

I've been using Linux for a long time and I've never had to do this until now.

XFCE developers should focus on things that affect a majority of users. Ease of use is a priority for Gnome
phreakerg on August 11, 2019 at 22:05
wow, why is such a natural normal task for anyone who owns an ARM/x86/ia64-3.1415/blah/SelectricIII so extreme? Scared to get your programming hand dirty? First you have to learn assembly & fortran for the ibm 7090, next get a good punch card service, cue the magnetic tape onto the receive reel, set console to load. etc. Easy as Pie! Thanks Xfce!

Seriously XFCE? It's an icon for a program or script. H E L L O?
Triangles on August 14, 2019 at 12:18
@phreakerg you're telling me! :)