Add an application to the Ubuntu dash

How to add an application to the Ubuntu dash. When you install a program from the software center it will be automatically available in the Dash. But what if you want to run a program that is not installed the normal way?

Below is an example how I solved this for Foxit reader. You can download a deb installation file from their webpage, but this only works on Ubuntu i386. When you are running Ubuntu amd64, your only option is to download the (compressed) executable. This runs without problems (go to the folder where you downloaded and uncompressed the executable, and run ./FoxitReader on the command line.

To integrate the program in the dash, you need to create a desktop configuration file.  This is a text file which you need to place in the folder .local/share/applications in your home folder. The configuration file is a simple text file which looks like:

[Desktop Entry]
Exec=/home/paulo/Software/Office/Foxit_reader/FoxitReader %u
GenericName=PDF Viewer

I read somewhere you may need to restart unity (type unity –replace  in the command line), but I didn’t need to do that. Edit: when trying for another program, this only worked after I made the .desktop file executable. If this still doesn’t work for you, check this post on ‘Ask Ubuntu’. There are a lot of different proposed solutions. Which works will also depend on which version of Ubuntu you are have.

Note that I added a line ‘Icon=’ with the location of the program icon. This is not required but it is nice if the icon of the program shows in the dash.

Now, you can add the program to the list of recommended applications for pdf’s by right clicking on a pdf file and use the ‘open with’ option to open the pdf with Foxit reader. The first time you will need to scroll down through the list of available programs, but after that it will appear in the (much shorter) list of recommended programs.


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