Some people seem to right-click Desktop -> Refresh all the time. They seem to think that it solves computer problems in general, or that one must do it in order to keep the computer working properly. The habit seems more common in Asian countries.

My understanding is that clicking Refresh on the desktop does nothing other than update the desktop GUI and retrieve the latest state. Is there anything more to it?

  • The desktop is just a view of the ~/Desktop folder. Refreshing it simply checks the folder for any changes since the last time it was loaded. So it does even less than suggested.
    – Paul
    Mar 24, 2012 at 13:10

2 Answers 2


Your understanding is correct. It does nothing else. This is just 'elevator button syndrome' (or, if you prefer, 'crosswalk button syndrome').

  • 4
    If your computer is already under load, refreshing the desktop could actually be counter-productive as it requires resources as well. So, not only does it not speed up the process, it might slow it down. Mar 26, 2012 at 14:42

Refresh option is just used to display the desktop contents after some modifications has been made to the desktop folder and the change is still not reflected on the display...

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