Linux Tutorials

Ways To Get Quick Access To Custom Apps On GNOME Desktop

gnome custom apps quick access

Have you ever installed a custom application from the Internet and jumped into this problem: having to turn on your terminal program and keying in the command to run that executable file? I’d done that multiple times until I realized there are two ways for launching my custom installed program efficiently on GNOME.

​Using terminal ain’t that bad but it’s tedious typing and re-typing those same keystrokes every reboot. Read on below to learn what are they and how you can implement that on your GNOME Linux box.

What are custom applications?

Here I am referring custom applications to those apps that you normally won’t find on your distro software repositories for installation. For instance, IntelliJ, an IDE for Java developers is quite new, there are no maintainers maintaining the said package on almost all Linux distros.​So a user like you and I would normally access the app’s official web page and download its Linux tarballs so we could later extract it and run it.
Thus, the term custom application.

Using GNOME keyboard keys

This is the best and easiest method for launching the program. You can set that up by launching your Settings program and browsing down to Devices category. Choose Keyboard and you’ll see all the list of shortcuts set up by default.

Scroll down to the end until you encounter **Custom Shortcuts** section. That’s where we can add (and also remove) our custom keyboard shortcuts.

gnome keyboard shortcuts settings

Select the + button to add a new custom shortcut. Key in the application name in the Name box and its corresponding command name in the Command box. After you’re done click the Set Shortcut button and hit your preferred custom keyboard shortcut keys. You’ve just successfully added a new keyboard shortcut for your custom application.

Creating a custom .desktop file

Using keyboard shortcut key to launch a custom application is amazing, however, there’s this problem of having to memorize all those shortcut keys if you have multiple (custom) applications installed on your system. In that case, you’d prefer to actually have those applications listed on your GNOME all apps overview.

​Use the below basic skeleton-like desktop structure to create one new custom app entry on your GNOME all apps overview:

[Desktop Entry] 

Save the file as *file-name.desktop* to ~/.local/share/applications directory.

custom app file gnome

There’s one thing to consider before you can skip this article and create one custom desktop file entry. The Icon directory name cannot have space(s) character. It causes issues. So if you have a folder named “something else” make sure to remove that space character by either replacing it with a dash or underscore character as in “something-else” or “something_else”.


I hope you’ve found this article helpful. By the way, I prefer custom keyboard shortcut keys over creating .desktop files because it’s clean and easier to maintain. Have another possible method to quickly access custom application on GNOME desktop? Please don’t hesitate to leave your opinions in the comment section below.

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