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How to hide desktop icons on Linux

Desktop icons can be pretty useful for quickly launching apps. That said, not everyone likes having icons on their screens and prefer to use the app menu. If you want to shut off icons for your desktop icons on Linux, follow along with this guide.

Gnome Shell

Having desktop icons in Gnome Shell used to be a regular thing, but for the last year or two, not so much. As of the most recent release of Gnome Shell, desktop icons are not visible. However, on some Linux operating systems, there is a Gnome Shell extension that brings this feature back, and if you have desktop icons, that’s why.

If you want to get rid of desktop icons on your Gnome Shell installation, here’s what to do. First, open up the “Extensions” app on your Linux PC. If you are running the most current release of Gnome, the Gnome Tweaks app may not work for extensions.

Note: the Gnome Extensions application is available in many places for installation. However, the best way to get it working is to set up the Flatpak release of the program. For more information, click here.

Inside of the Extensions application on your Linux PC, launch it via the app menu. When the application is open, look through your list of extensions and find the “Desktop Icons” one. Then, simply tick the box next to it to shut it off.

KDE Plasma 5

The KDE Plasma 5 desktop is very intricate. It has a whole lot of options to mess with, unfortunately, KDE Plasma 5, for whatever reason, cannot turn off the icons like on other desktop environments simply.

Suppose you’d like to shut off desktop icons in KDE Plasma 5, bad news. Sadly you can’t. However, you can shrink the icon size, so that they’re less annoying and in the way. To shrink the size of icons, right-click on the desktop using the mouse.

Once in the right-click menu, look for the “Icons” tab, and select it. After that, select the “Icon size” tab, and choose “Tiny.” This option will significantly shrink the size of icons on the desktop. You can also uncheck “Show Preview” for the icons, which will turn off thumbnails.


XFCE4 is highly configurable. If you use it, you’ll know that the desktop allows users to customize and personalize just about everything, including desktop icons. If you’re an XFCE 4 user and are sick of seeing icons on the desktop, here’s what to do.

First, right-click on the desktop with the mouse. By right-clicking with the mouse, a menu will appear on the screen. Look through the menu for the “Desktop Settings” option, and select it with the mouse.

Inside of the “Desktop Settings” window, look for the tab that says “Icons,” and click on it to go to the desktop icon settings area for XFCE 4. Then, look for the menu next to the “Icon type.” Change it to “None” to completely shut off icons for the XFCE 4 desktop.


Mate (AKA the old Gnome desktop) is highly configurable and allows Linux users to customize many things, including icons. If you want to rid your Mate desktop icons, do the following.

First, launch a terminal window on the Mate desktop. Then, when the terminal window is open, run the following gsettings command. This command should shut off all desktop icons on the Mate desktop workspace.

Note: do not run the command below with sudo or root privileges.

gsettings set org.mate.background show-desktop-icons false


In Cinnamon, desktop icons are turned on by default. If you’re a Cinnamon user and you’re not happy with having desktop icons on, you’ll be able to disable them by doing the following.

First, right-click on the desktop with the mouse to reveal the right-click menu. Then, look through the menu for the “Customize” option, and click on it. By selecting “Customize,” you will bring up the Cinnamon customization options.

Inside of the customization options window, select the “Desktop Settings” button at the bottom. Once you’ve selected “Desktop Settings,” look for “Desktop Layout” and change it to “No desktop icons” to disable icons.


LXQT is a lot like KDE Plasma 5 in that it is built upon QT and is highly customizable. Unlike Plasma, however, it allows its users to simply shut off desktop icons if they don’t want to see them. If you’re using LXQT and want to turn off icons, do the following.

First, right-click on the desktop with the mouse. After right-clicking on the desktop, look through the right-click menu for the menu option that says ‘Hide desktop items,” and check the box. By checking this box, LXQT will immediately hide all visible desktop icons. However, it will also hide other options in the right-click menu. So, only enable this feature if you hate desktop icons on your LXQT workspace!


  1. In MATE, after this command doesn’t work right-click menu on desktop. I used these commands for individual icons instead:

    $ gsettings set org.mate.caja.desktop computer-icon-visible false
    $ gsettings set org.mate.caja.desktop home-icon-visible false
    $ gsettings set org.mate.caja.desktop trash-icon-visible false

  2. For KDE the answer is simple. Right-click on the desktop > Configure desktop > switch from folder view to desktop view.

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