Edit System Menu Items With Alacarte [Linux]

Danny Stieben 17-09-2012

linux system menuWhen you think about it, our Linux desktop environments are pretty smart. Whereas Windows just creates a new folder for a newly installed program in the Start Menu, the Linux desktop environment automatically organize all installed applications into different categories. So, if there’s an application which actively uses the Internet, it’ll more than likely be in the Internet category.


While this system can work very well, there are some packages that place shortcuts into categories which you deem to be incorrect, others might add a shortcut which you might not want (such as for certain system tools), and then some might not add a shortcut when you want it. Those are just a few of many different reasons why you may need to go into the menus and add/edit/remove items, but it can all be achieved using an application called Alacarte.


While this is a bit surprising for me, strangely enough Alacarte isn’t usually installed by default on most distributions, including Ubuntu and Fedora. Thankfully, however, it is very easy to find and install. In your respective package managers for any distribution, you should be able to find the application under the package name alacarte. Ubuntu users can also use the terminal and run sudo apt-get install alacarte, while Fedora users can run sudo yum install alacarte.


linux system menu
One of the great things of Alacarte is that there is absolutely nothing that you don’t need, and it’s quite apparent as soon as you launch the application. On the left side of the window you’ll see a panel of all the available categories and sub-categories that currently exist. You can’t do anything to the categories in the left panel other than navigate between them, but if you click on the very top super category called Applications, you’ll be able to change categories in the main area of the window. You can add a category within whatever category you’re currently in by using the New Menu button, while the Properties button is for editing and the Delete button is, of course, for deletion.

Application Shortcuts

linux system menu
When it comes to editing the individual applications which are found in each different category, you’ll want to use the New Item, Properties, and Delete buttons to accomplish those. When editing a shortcut, Alacarte will require a name and command from you, along with an optional comment. The command can either be the name of the application, or the path to the executable of the program. Entering only the name of the application in the command text box will only work if there’s an executable in /usr/bin with that name. Don’t forget that you can also change the icon for the shortcut entry to a custom image. Sometimes the image changes by itself once you enter in the name of the executable in the command text box.

Other Features

Of course, there are a few other things you can edit it as well. For example, you can add in separators in case your menu system supports them –such as Gnome 2 or MATE A Review of MATE: Is It a True GNOME 2 Replica for Linux? The world of Linux desktop environments has dramatically changed since then. Gnome 3 was born, Gnome 2 was essentially thrown to the side, Gnome 3 was forked to create Cinnamon, and so on. However, Gnome... Read More , but not Unity Unity - A Modern Lightweight Desktop For Ubuntu [Linux] Read More or Gnome Shell 3 Reasons Why Gnome Shell Is Better Than Ubuntu's Unity [Opinion] There's absolutely no denying the fact that there has been a lot of bickering between people about which desktop environment is the best. The discussion has been expanded and refocused, from not just Gnome vs.... Read More . You can also hide entries so that they exist within Alacarte, but they don’t actually appear in your menus. You can also move items up or down on the menu, if your shell doesn’t alphabetize the list. Last but not least, there’s a Revert button to undo changes made.



Alacarte is fantastic for Gnome/GTK-based desktop environments to manage your menus and the entries within. It’s overall simplicity but effectiveness shouldn’t prevent anyone from using it to cater to their preferences. This application doesn’t work for KDE/Qt-based desktop environments, but they have their own tools to take care of their menus, called kmenuedit.

Have you ever needed to edit any of your menus? Is Alacarte good enough for you, or do you use something else? Let us know in the comments!

Related topics: GNOME Shell, Start Menu.

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  1. Oscar alias xpenguin
    December 13, 2012 at 5:37 am

    Now I know 6 bigger Linux distributions where Alacarte no starts or starts but no works. The last was Ubuntu 12.10 and before SuSE 12.2. The time when I was believing that this are bugs is over. This seems to be a method. We shall not change wahtever in the menus who are made from programmer gods! Individualism was in GNOME 2, but now is all modern and advanced! Individualism only disturbs!
    Greetings from a German with his Pidgin English...

  2. Oscar alias xpenguin
    October 23, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    We know how to use alacarte. But in Mageia 2, Sabayon 9, and Fedora 17 no starts. And in SuSE 12.2, Ubuntu 12.10, and LMDE starts but not works. Nobody can tell me that this is a lapsus. The programmers not want that the user does whatever in the menu. To killing alacarte is the new method agaist after a lot of new obstecles in the last 2 years. It's possible that alacarte in 2 years (maybe also in 1) not more exist. The first users was also changing back to Microsoft. Maybe in a few years is Linux history,,,

  3. Muhammad Rizwan Aziz
    October 15, 2012 at 8:38 am

    this software is preinstalled in ubuntu 12.04.but before reading this i never knew it..thnx it really is a useful tool.

  4. albin george
    October 2, 2012 at 12:14 am

    Wow thanks I saw this once saw this but didnt know what it was thanks:)

  5. Miggs15
    September 18, 2012 at 5:41 am

    It's Gnome desktop environment, not Linux desktop environment. There's not such thing as later one.

    • Danny Stieben
      September 19, 2012 at 1:21 am

      Sorry, I meant "Linux desktop environments", so plural, which collectively includes Gnome, KDE, Xfce, etc etc.

  6. Kp Rao
    September 17, 2012 at 11:07 pm

    I have windows but i learn this