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Launchers

A launcher is an object that performs a specific action when you open it.

You can find launchers in the panels, in the panel menubar, and on the desktop. A launcher is represented by an icon in all of these locations.

You might use a launcher to do any of the following:

  • Start a particular application.

  • Execute a command.

  • Open a folder.

  • Open a Web browser at a particular page on the Web.

  • Open special Uniform Resource Identifiers (URIs). The GNOME Desktop contains special URIs that enable you to access particular functions from the file manager.

You can modify the properties of a launcher. For example, the properties of a launcher include the name of the launcher, the icon that represents the launcher, and how the launcher runs. For more on this, see the section called “Modifying a Launcher”.

Note

In certain situations, a launcher in a menu might not show an icon. For example, if it specifies no icon to display, or if the entire menu is set to show no icons.

Adding a Launcher to a Panel

You can add a launcher to a panel in one of the following ways:

  • From the panel popup menu

    Right-click on any vacant space on the panel, then choose Add to Panel. The Add to Panel dialog opens.

    To create a new launcher, select Custom Application Launcher from the list. A Create Launcher dialog is displayed. For more information on the properties in this dialog, see the section called “Launcher Properties”.

    Alternatively, to add an existing launcher to the panel, select Application Launcher from the list. Choose the launcher that you want to add from the list of menu items.

  • From any menu

    To add a launcher to a panel from any menu, perform one of the following steps:

    • Open a menu that contains the launcher. Drag the launcher on to the panel.

    • Open the menu that contains the launcher from the panel where you want the launcher to reside. Right-click on the title of the launcher. Choose Add this launcher to panel.

  • From the file manager

    To add a launcher to a panel from the file manager, find the .desktop file for the launcher in your file system, then drag the .desktop file to the panel.

Modifying a Launcher

To modify the properties of a launcher in a panel, perform the following steps:

  1. Right-click on the launcher to open the panel object popup menu.

  2. Choose Properties. Use the Launcher Properties dialog to modify the properties as required. For more information on the Launcher Properties dialog, see the section called “Launcher Properties”.

  3. Click Close to close the Launcher Properties dialog.

Launcher Properties

You can set a number of properties for a launcher, whether you are creating a launcher, or modify an existing one.

The following table describes the dialog elements on the Basic tabbed section:

Dialog Element

Description

Name

Use this text box to specify the name of the launcher. You can use the Advanced tab to add translations of the name. This name is the name that appears when you add the launcher to a menu or to the desktop.

Generic name

Use this text box to specify the class of application to which the launcher belongs. For example, you might type Text Editor in this text box for a gedit launcher. You can use the Advanced tab to add translations of the generic name.

Comment

Use this text box to specify a short description of the launcher. The comment is displayed as a tooltip when you point to the launcher icon on the panel. You can use the Advanced tabbed section to add translations of the comment.

Command

Use this field to specify a command to execute when you click on the launcher. For sample commands, see the next section.

Type

Use this drop-down combination box to specify the type of launcher. Select from the following:

  • Application: Select this option to create a launcher that starts an application.

  • Link: Select this option to create a launcher that links to a URI.

Icon

Choose an icon to represent the launcher. To choose an icon, click on the No Icon button. An icon selector dialog is displayed. Choose an icon from the dialog. Alternatively, to choose an icon from another directory, click Browse. When you choose an icon, click OK.

Run in terminal

Select this option to run the application or command in a terminal window. Choose this option for an application or command that does not create a window in which to run.

The following table describes the dialog elements on the top part of the Advanced tabbed section:

Dialog Element

Description

Try this before using

Enter a command here to check before starting the launcher. If the command is executable and is in your path, the launcher appears on the panel.

Documentation

Enter the path to the help file for the launcher. If you enter a path in this field, a Help on launcher-name Application menu item is displayed on the popup menu for the launcher.

You can also add a translation of the Name, Generic name, and Comment fields from the Basic tabbed section. To add a translation, enter the details of the translation in the Name/Comment translations table as follows:

Field

Description

First field

Enter the two-letter code for the language for which you want to add a translation.

Second field

Enter the translation of the Name of the launcher.

Third field

Enter the translation of the Generic name of the launcher.

Fourth field

Enter the translation for the Comment for the launcher.

Then click on the Add/Set button.

To edit a translation, select the translation. The translated text appears in the lower part of this dialog. Edit the fields as required, then click on the Add/Set button.

To remove a translation, select the translation, then click on the Remove button.

Launcher Commands

The type of commands that you can enter in the Command field depend on the option that you choose from the Type drop-down combination box. If you choose Application from the Type drop-down combination box, you can enter a normal command. The following table shows some sample commands and the actions that the commands perform:

Sample Application Command

Action

gedit

Starts the gedit text editor application.

gedit /user123/loremipsum.txt

Opens the file /user123/loremipsum.txt in the gedit text editor application.

nautilus /user123/Projects

Opens the folder /user123/Projects in a file object window.

If you choose Link from the Type drop-down combination box, you can enter a link command. The following table shows some sample link commands and the actions that the commands perform:

Sample Link Command

Action

https://www.gnome.org

Opens the GNOME website in your default browser.

ftp://ftp.gnome.org

Opens the GNOME FTP site in your default browser.

The command can contain the following special codes which will be replaced with the value specified in the following table:

Code

Meaning

%f

A single file name, even if multiple files are selected. The system reading the desktop entry should recognize that the program in question cannot handle multiple file arguments, and it should should probably spawn and execute multiple copies of a program for each selected file if the program is not able to handle additional file arguments. If files are not on the local file system (i.e. are on HTTP or FTP locations), the files will be copied to the local file system and %f will be expanded to point at the temporary file. Used for programs that do not understand the URL syntax.

%F

A list of files. Use for apps that can open several local files at once.

%u

A single URL.

%U

A list of URLs.

%d

Directory containing the file that would be passed in a %f field.

%D

List of directories containing the files that would be passed in to a %F field.

%n

A single filename (without path).

%N

A list of filenames (without paths).

%i

The Icon field of the desktop entry expanded as two parameters, first --icon and then the contents of the Icon field. Should not expand as any parameters if the Icon field is empty or missing.

%c

The translated Name field associated with the desktop entry.

%k

The location of the desktop file as either a URI (if for example gotten from the vfolder system) or a local filename or empty if no location is known.

%v

The name of the Device entry in the desktop file.

These are as defined by freedesktop.org's Desktop Entry Specification.


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