Files involved in this specification are located according to the "desktop base directory specification".
Here are the files defined by this specification:
This file contains the XML definition of the main application
menu layout. The first file found in the search path should be
used; other files are ignored. This implies that if the user
has their own
it replaces the system wide one.
(Though the user's menu may explicitly merge the system wide
Systems that offer multiple desktop environments and that want
to use distinct menu layouts in the different environments can
use differently prefixed .menu files. In this case the
$XDG_MENU_PREFIX environment variable must
be set by the system to reflect the .menu file that is being
For example if a system contains both the GNOME and the KDE
desktop environments it can decide to use
gnome-applications.menu as the menu layout in GNOME sessions
and kde-applications.menu as the menu layout in KDE sessions.
To correctly reflect this, it should set the
$XDG_MENU_PREFIX environment variable to
"gnome-" respectively "kde-".
Implementations may chose to use .menu files with other names for tasks or menus other than the main application menu. Such usage is not covered by this specification.
The default merge directories included in the <DefaultMergeDirs> element. By convention, third parties may add new <Menu> files in this location to create their own sub-menus.
Note that a system that uses either gnome-applications.menu or kde-applications.menu depending on the desktop environment in use must still use applications-merged as the default merge directory in both cases.
Implementations may chose to use .menu files with names other than application.menu for tasks or menus other than the main application menu. In that case the first part of the name of the default merge directory is derived from the name of the .menu file.
For example in a system that uses a preferences.menu file to
describe an additional menu, the default merge directories
included in the <DefaultMergeDirs> element in the
preferences.menu file would become
This directory contains a .desktop file for each possible menu
item. Each directory in the
search path should be used (i.e. desktop entries are collected
from all of them, not just the first one that exists). When two
desktop entries have the same name, the one appearing earlier in
the path is used.
The <DefaultAppDirs> element in a menu file indicates that this default list of desktop entry locations should be scanned at that point. If a menu file does not contain <DefaultAppDirs>, then these locations are not scanned.
This directory contains directory entries which may be associated with folders in the menu layout. Each directory in the search path should be used. Only files ending in .directory are used; other files are ignored.
The <DefaultDirectoryDirs> element in a menu file indicates that this default list of directory entry locations should be scanned at that point. If a menu file does not contain <DefaultDirectoryDirs>, then these locations are not scanned.