How-To Geek

Hide Removable Drive Icons from Your Ubuntu Desktop

I prefer a clean desktop with no icons cluttering it up, but by default Ubuntu adds icons to the desktop for every single removable drive that you attach to your system.

Having recently transitioned to using Ubuntu full-time at home (instead of just part-time), this was one of the first things I wanted to disable. Sadly there’s no option in the default configuration screens, so we’ll have to use the “registry editor” for Ubuntu, called gconf-editor.

Just type in gconf-editor into the Alt+F2 run dialog to open the app. 


Now browse down to the following key:

apps \ nautilus \ desktop

You should see a key in the right-hand pane called volumes_visible. Remove the checkbox from it, and the icons will instantly disappear from the desktop. Remember that you can always access the drives from the “Computer” icon, or easily in the file browser.

I’m much happier now with my beautiful desktop.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 05/2/07

Comments (43)

  1. Hervé COSSI

    Very useful,

    As you, i prefer a clean desktop with no icons cluttering it up and this was disturbing me since i’ve been using ubuntu. Thx for the tip.

  2. Neilen Marais

    Great, thanks!

    My significant other kept nagging met to get rid of those icons!

  3. naser

    Thanks for that tip :)

  4. Rich

    How do I get to see the partitions on the desk top icons? All the partitions are mounted and the default settings indicate that all the partitions are mounted but they are not visible anywhere. How can I make them visible?

  5. Lyn

    Great tip. Thanks for the help.

  6. Swede

    Tnx 4 that tip, solved my “problem” ;)

  7. Kevin

    It’s really useful tip however this only hides icons of mounted devices but doesn’t unmount them. Along with them it hides icons of temporarily mounted CD/DVD, flash, floppy.
    From my point of view it’s much better to unmount drives that are currently not in use.
    I have slave drive (fat16,ntfs,fat32) with XP +bunch of pro programs just in case and I use it now very seldom:). But I can unmount those partitions only from console and they appear again on next logon. On the other hand I can mount/umount another fat32 docs partition on masterdrive as well as partitions hosted another Linux distros with just right click in FileManager.
    Anybody knows what file I need to edit to manage those slave partitions same way?

  8. Laurence

    Cheers for the tip! Was sick of the clutter :)

  9. rahul

    thanks a lot man. Good tip

  10. Gabriel.

    Great tip! Just a note for those wanting to get rid of permanent mount points (e.g. partitions) from the desktop… If you mount your drives to /mnt instead of /media they won’t appear on the desktop.

  11. James

    thanks a ton!

  12. matthew

    just the tip i needed, thanks!

  13. Jon

    Thanks for sharing. Long time since last i used Gnome.

  14. JMO Mandia

    Thank you so much for this tip! I have been trying to do this for some months now!

  15. Jeff

    Thanks. Just what I needed.

  16. Hari Sankar

    It was very useful

  17. Avinash Meetoo


    Thanks for that! I was looking for a solution for ages :-)


  18. greg

    THANKS!! Conky looks so much better with no desktop icons lying around!! great stuff

  19. Rich

    Thanks for the tip. This was something that has always bothered me with ubuntu. Now I have a nice clean desktop again! :)

  20. Raindog

    Excellent tip. Cheers.

  21. hew


  22. Giorgio


  23. scouser73

    What an excellent tip, I’ve wanted to have a clean & unobtrusive desktop ever since switching to Ubuntu, thank you very much.

  24. Robert

    what switch would i have to find to make so everything on my desktop disappears?

  25. cool_jerk

    nx for the tip dude

  26. Mehdi Kamari

    Thanks , it’s good

  27. Aditya Pratap V.

    Excellent tip!

    How my Ubuntu desktop was cluttered with icons from Enlightenment, downloaded files (for easy access!), and what not. I found the best way to hide all them was to create a backup folder for ~/Desktop and move the contents of the Desktop folder to this backup folder –
    $ mkdir desktop_backup
    $ mv Desktop/* desktop_backup
    If I wanted to unhide them, I would simply
    $ mv desktop_backup/* Desktop

  28. Brett M.

    Thanks a ton.

  29. Hermes

    Thank you so much for this! I’ve moved to using Openbox but I still liked Nautilus and this was the only thing that was keeping me from having a minimalist Linux experience. :)

  30. John

    Thanks for the tip. I use Disk Mounter in my panel at the top of the screen to see what disks are mounted anyway, so it was nice to get rid of these unnecessary icons from the desktop.

  31. n

    thanks for this! helped a ton :)

  32. Naresh


    Thanks for the useful tip and thanks for serving a lots and lots of tips & solutions to beginners.


  33. Brendan

    Thanks very much, incredibly useful.

  34. Sarath

    Thanks man. You are the real deal. Much helped

  35. cajhne

    If you want to hide everything, not just the drive icons, uncheck apps \ nautilus \ preferences \ show_desktop

    That should hide everything regardless of if you’ve done the above.

  36. hyunjungsoh

    Thank you so much for sharing this… :3

  37. omid

    thanks man
    it was one of my problems

  38. Sabhtarsha

    Thanks …

  39. Nima

    Thanks a million!

  40. Sid

    Awesome tip. Thanks, man. Also, thanks to cajhne. That was a good tip as well.

  41. mescaleen

    thanx for the words man.. it worked out good..

  42. toha

    great! thanks!

  43. Josh

    Thanks so much for putting this up. I love when a two second Google search links me to a nice simple tutorial that explains exactly how to do what I need.


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