Enable “drag and drop” between desktop and file browser on Ubuntu 20.04

The drag-and-drop action between the desktop and the file browser no longer works because the desktop icon is handled by the extension rather than the Nautilus file browser.

Fortunately, the original Desktop Icons extension fork is now available with several extensions, including drag and drop.

This is called Desktop Icons NG and has the following features:

  • Drag and drop within the desktop, between the desktop and the application, and both in the Nautilus window
  • You can use the “Open with…” option with multiple files
  • Hover over or click on an icon whose name is too large to fit to see the full name
  • Don’t hang compositor when there is too much activity in the desktop folder

Installing the Desktop Icons NG extension: The extension is still in alpha development (October 2020), so there may be many bugs. Please use with caution.

1. If you are installing the Gnome Shell extension for the first time, first open a terminal (Ctrl + Alt + T) and run the command to install the recommended packages.

sudo apt install chrome-gnome-shell gnome-shell-extension-prefs

2. Next, extension.gnome.org/…/desktop-icons-ng.. Turn on the toggle icon to install the extension.

Do you see the toggle icon? Click the link to install the browser extension and refresh the web page.

3. Open the extension tool from the app launcher. Disable the built-in “Desktop Icons” extension and enable the newly installed “Desktop Icons NG” extension.

To set up your extension, just right-click on your Ubuntu desktop and select the last option.

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