Nautilus (now called GNOME Files or Files) is GNOME’s default file manager. It has a clean and intuitive interface and offers plenty of features to make your life easier.
However, not all of these features are enabled by default in Nautilus; Some of them need to be activated separately, while others require installing a plugin.
If you use Nautilus every day or have recently switched to it from another file manager, here are some of the best Nautilus tweaks you need to try and probably enable in Nautilus to get the most out of it on your Linux computer.
1. Activate quick preview
Quick preview is one of the first features you should enable in Nautilus. It allows you to preview different types of files in Nautilus, like images, videos, documents, etc., without opening them.
However, quick preview is not available by default, so you need to enable it. To do this, first install the Gnome Sushi package by opening the terminal and running this command:
sudo apt install gnome-sushi
When you’re done, close the terminal and the Nautilus file manager. This will give you the Sushi file preview in Nautilus.
Now open Nautilus again and go to the directory with the file you want to preview. Click on the file and press place to preview it.
Additionally, you can preview directories to get more information about them.
2. Show file size/number of items in directories
By default, Nautilus does not show the file size and the number of items in a directory. So if you need to know the size of a file or the number of items in a directory, there are a few steps you need to take.
Luckily, Nautilus supports these options, and you can enable them in settings.
Open Nautilus, click and select the hamburger menu icon (with three horizontal lines) on the toolbar settings. Scroll down to Icon view captions section and tap First. Choose size from the available options and close the window.
You should now be able to preview items contained in directories and size of files/documents.
3. Add directories to the sidebar for easy access
Nautilus has a sidebar in the left pane to provide quick access to various directories and locations on the system. If there are specific directories that you need to access frequently, you can add them to the sidebar, or as Nautilus calls it, “bookmark” them so you can access them from anywhere.
Go to the location that contains the directory you want to add to the sidebar. Drag it to the sidebar where it says New bookmark and release the button to drop it there.
If you want to remove the directory at any time, right-click and select it Remove.
4. Quickly create new documents
Using the terminal is the quickest way to create a document. However, if you are unfamiliar (or familiar) with the CLI, Nautilus has a simple GUI option for you. It is accessible from the right-click context menu and you can enable it with a few simple steps.
To do this, open the default text editor on your computer (it’s called Text Editor on Ubuntu). This will open a new file. Save it as a document (or any other name) in the templates directory under home. Close the text editor and Nautilus.
Now if you want to create a new document, go to that directory, right click and select it New Document > Document (or however you saved the file).
A blank document will open where you can add text. Give the file a new name and select a directory to save it.
5. Resize and rotate images from the context menu
Depending on the Linux distribution you’re running on your computer, you’ll get an image editor preinstalled in the operating system that you can use to edit images.
However, if you are using Nautilus, there is a better and more efficient way to do this. It involves using the ImageMagick program and the Nautilus image converter Package.
First, open the terminal and run this command to install both packages:
sudo apt install imagemagick nautilus-image-converter
After the installation is complete, open Nautilus again and navigate to the directory that contains the images you want to convert or resize.
Right click on the image and select it change image size or rotate imagesas required, and you will be presented with a matching prompt screen with various options for the chosen action.
Adjust the properties (size or rotation) and perform the desired operation. Once the process is complete, you will see the edited image in the same directory.
6. Show hidden files
Many configuration files that you will ever need to edit on Linux are often hidden in the file manager. While you can open these files directly from the terminal with a text editor, if you want to show hidden files and folders in the GUI, you’ll need to use the Show hidden files Options in Nautilus.
To do this, click and tick the hamburger menu icon in the Nautilus toolbar Show hidden files Possibility. After activation you should now be able to see all hidden files in directories.
7. Quickly access recently visited directories
Nautilus offers many nifty features that allow you to do more with fewer clicks. However, many of these features are unknown – even to some longtime Nautilus users.
For example, the ability to use the to access your most recently visited directories left arrow Key is one such function. You can also right click on the The back Option on the Nautilus toolbar to view your most visited directories.
So if you are navigating into a directory and need to go back a few directories, right click on it The back icon and select a directory to jump there directly.
8. Open a folder as an administrator
Sometimes there are situations where you want to open a directory as root (with administrator privileges), maybe to open and edit files or paste some copied files.
Nautilus allows you to do this via the nautilus-admin Package. Open the terminal and install the package with:
sudo apt install nautilus-admin
Then exit the Nautilus file manager by running:
Alternatively, press the Close Button to close Nautilus.
After that, open Nautilus again and visit the directory you want to open as an administrator. Right-click the empty space and select it Open as administrator. If asked for an admin password, enter the password and press Authenticate.
9. Get the Delete Permanently option in the right-click menu
Deleting files in Nautilus is easy: you right-click on the file you want to delete and select it move to Trash option from the context menu.
It will move the file you just deleted to the Recycle Bin so you can restore it later. However, sometimes there are files that you want to permanently delete.
In situations like this, you need them Delete permanently Possibility. It’s available in Nautilus, but you have to enable it manually.
To do this, open Nautilus settings. Scroll down to Optional context menu actions section and toggle the option for Delete permanently.
If you need to permanently delete a file, right-click it and select Delete permanently.
10. Enable advanced view for folders in list view
Nautilus offers two ways to display the contents of a directory: list view and grid view. Although both views work well, if you’ve used the list view you must have noticed that in order to access the contents of a directory you have to double click on it to open it, which can be a bit annoying.
Fortunately, there is a way around this that allows you to directly expand directories with a single click. To do this, go to Nautilus settings and under Generaltoggle the switch Expandable folders in list view.
Now each directory has a small arrow on the left that you can click to expand the directory and view/access its contents.
11. Add a symbolic links option in the context menu
Symbolic links (also called symlinks) are shortcuts that you can use to create links to files and directories so they are accessible from more than one place. In some ways, they are similar to normal links, except they behave as if the linked object existed in the same place.
One of the ways to create symlinks on Linux is by using the ln command. However, if you are unfamiliar with the CLI, Nautilus has a hidden feature that allows you to create symbolic links interactively.
To use it, first enable the feature by switching to Nautilus settingsscroll to Optional context menu actionsand switch to the switch for create link.
After that, if you want to create a symbolic link, right-click on the file or directory you want to create a symbolic link for and select it Copy. Then go back to the directory where you want to keep this symlink, right click on the empty space and select create link.
Do more with Nautilus on Linux!
By enabling certain hidden features and adding some new features in Nautilus, you can get the most out of the file manager on Linux. This not only simplifies some trivial operations, but also expands the scope of Nautilus, allowing you to perform certain operations that would otherwise require using another program.
If you’ve been using Nautilus for a while and wish it had more features/options, Linux also has a few other good file managers to check out.
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