Dude! Where’s My Data!

Dude!Little in life sucks more than moving to a new desktop environment or distro, only to realize your data for specific applications didn’t make it. This usually happens with stuff like desktop-specific note taking apps or clipboard managers.

In today’s quick tip, I’ll show you some common places where you can recover this data or how to simply migrate it to another installation.


Some folks will tell you that what goes into Parcellite never comes out unless it’s installed. This is false. First off, Parcellite and many other clipboard managers store data in ~/.local/share/

Tip: For those who don’t know, clipboard managers allow us to take copy and paste to the next level. Instead of merely copy one instance at a time, you can use a clipboard manager like Parcellite to copy multiple/separate text entries, images, even entire directories.

For this particular clipboard manager, you only need worry about ~/.local/share/parcellite/history

Did you try reading the file? Garbled enough for ya? Don’t sweat it, just do this in your terminal.

strings ~/.local/share/parcellite/history

Nine times out of ten, you’ll have the entire clipboard history…garble free. Wait, you need a text file?

strings ~/.local/share/parcellite/history > history.txt

Now you have a history.txt in your user’s home directory. Awesome pants.

Sticky Notes

There are a number of places depending the specific app, however usually it’s going to be in ~/.local/share/ whereas the configuration data is often kept in ~/.config

In my case, I was (stupidly) using MATE’s sticky notes. Contrary to what you might think, the data for this applet was kept in ~/.config/mate/stickynotes-applet.xml

At any rate, you only need to open this up in your preferred text editor and the formatting will remain intact.

Browser data

Browser data is a wild beast as it’s storage location depends on the browser. Chrome, Midori and others are likely to be kept in ~/.configwhile Firefox is kept in ~/.mozilla– it’s just that simple.

Everything else

Obviously there are downsides to restoring an entire home directory if you’re switching desktop environments. However if you’re sticking to the same distro and desktop, generally speaking it’s perfectly fine to backup your entire home while excluding stuff like Dropbox, .cache, etc. Good luck!

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Matt Hartley
Founder at Freedom Penguin
Freedom Penguin’s founder & talking head – Matt has over a decade working with Linux desktops, his operating system experience consists of both Windows and Linux operating platforms. In addition to writing articles on Linux and open source technology for Datamation.com and OpenLogic.com/wazi, Matt also once served as a co-host for a popular Linux-centric podcast.

Matt has written about various software titles, such as Moodle, Joomla, WordPress, openCRX, Alfresco, Liferay and more. He also has additional Linux experience working with Debian based distributions, openSUSE, CentOS, and Arch Linux.

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