Just sharing a quick convenience idea: merging Desktop and /tmp to use it as a quick drop directory. Sounds stupid? Bear with me.

XDG user directories

XDG user directories are a freedesktop.org de-facto standard for specifying typical directories within a user’s home, such as Documents, Downloads, Pictures, Music etc.. Filemanagers typically mark these xdg-user-dirs with special folder icons, so even if you haven’t explicitly bothered yet, you might have noticed.

Setting one of the XDG user directories allows your system (typically impersonated by your desktop environement) to ensure these folders are always existing, allows file managers to specifically mark them and to allow applications to save things there (for example applications can look up a user-specified download-folder to drop downloads there instead of reconfiguring each application separately). Also, many file managers and dialogs show you those XDG-user-dirs as quicklinks:

save dialog for webresource

You can see that Desktop as well as the other xdg-dirs I use are accessible as quicklinks on the left.

Hijacking the desktop dir

I personally do not use files on my desktop, as I most of the time do not see my desktop anyways, therefore I have little use for the Desktop directory. However, as many file dialogs offer quicklinks to those directories, we can use the otherwise useless desktop dir for another purpose: putting a quick-drop directory there. In my case this is /tmp, for two reasons:

  • easily accessible from the commandline to pull/push files from/to there, just two characters and a tab to type
  • already set up as a tmpfs, so it lives in my computer’s memory and will be cleared and empty again upon next reboot

By specifying /tmp as the Desktop directory we now have it accessible as a quicklink in close to every file dialog and can quickly drop things from any terminal location there and then access them with two clicks from every filesystem dialog (and the other way round).

Setting xdg-user-dirs

To do so we now need to set that directory. This is done via the file ~/.config/user-dirs.dirs, which for our purpose should contain the line:


You can set additional directories, the scheme will be always the same, XDG_<dirname>_DIR, you can query directories from the commandline via xdg-user-dir <dirname> to use them in your own scripts. <dirname> can be almost anything (although most software out there of course doesn’t consider any value for that).

drop-directory for display on your desktop

If you use a Desktop Environement that actually displays icons on your desktop, using /tmp is most likely unsatistfactory, as many applications use it for files and directories and therefore your desktop will be cluttered with those files.

Instead, we can create a directory specifically for that purpose, for example you could create a folder /drop in your filesystem root. This already retains the first property mentioned above, being accessible with few keystrokes (3 + tab: /dr<tab>, as /d<tab> collides with /dev). The second property we want is being in-memory, so we have simple regular clearance upon reboot and don’t collect clutter over time. We can achieve that by placing the line

tmpfs /drop tmpfs rw,nodev,noexec,nosuid,mode=1777 0 0

in /etc/fstab. This mounts a tmpfs to /drop in read-write mode.

nodev,noexec,nosuid are optional, but tightening permissions a little more rarely hurts. mode=1777 makes the directory readwriteeverythingable for every user on the system, but sets the sticky bit, so only the user placing things can delete them. Certainly not the most locked-down mode you could set, so potentially you want to tighten the screws here a little more.

Adapt the entry in ~/.config/user-dirs.dirs accordingly and you’re ready to go, now having an actual drop directory where you can simply drag and drop things onto your desktop.

Further reading