This simple and brief tutorial is going to show Ubuntu beginners how to add an application shortcut to the default Unity desktop. The desktop is empty by default, but it’s easy to add shortcuts.
For Computer, Home, Network, and Trash icons, Mounted volumes:
Open Ubuntu Software Center, search for and install Tweak Tool (tweak advanced Gnome3 settings), then launch it from the Unity Dash. You can find the options to show / hide theses icons on your desktop.
For applications with executable icons, such as Firefox, Google Chrome, LibreOffice, etc.
Open Unity Dash, search for the application (For laptop, you may need to un-maximize the Dash). Drag and drop the executable icon onto the desktop, and that’s it.
For those don’t have a launcher, read this tutorial.