The 11 Best Nautilus Tweaks to Get More Out of File Manager on Linux

Nautilus (now called GNOME Files or Files) is the default file manager on GNOME. It features 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 need to be enabled separately, while others require a plugin to be installed.

If you use Nautilus every day or have recently switched to it from a different file manager, here are some of the best Nautilus tweaks you should check out – and probably enable in Nautilus – to get the most out of it on your Linux computer.


1. Enable 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, such as images, videos, documents, etc., without having to open 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

Once done, close the terminal and the Nautilus file manager. This gives you the sushi file preview within Nautilus.

Now open Nautilus again and go to the folder containing the file you want to preview. Click on the file and press Room to view it.

In addition, you can also preview folders to get more information about them.

2. Show file size/number of items in folders

By default, Nautilus does not show the file size and number of items in a directory. So if you want to know the size of a file or the number of items in a folder, you have to go through a few steps.

Fortunately, Nautilus supports these options and you can enable them from the settings.

Open Nautilus, click the hamburger menu icon (with three horizontal lines) in the toolbar and select Preferences. Scroll down to the View caption icons section and tap First. To elect Mate from the available options and close the window.

You should now be able to preview items in folders and size of files/documents.

Nautilus has a sidebar in the left pane to provide quick access to various folders and locations on the system. If there are certain folders that you need to access more often, you can add them to the sidebar or, as Nautilus calls it, “bookmark” them to be able to access them from anywhere.

Navigate to the location containing the folder 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 delete the folder at any time, right click on it and select remove.

4. Create new documents quickly

Using the terminal is the fastest way to create a document. However, if you don’t feel comfortable (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 (in Ubuntu it’s called TextEdit). This will open a new file. Save it as a document (or any name you like) in the Templates folder under House. Close the text editor and Nautilus.

Now when you want to create a new document, go to that folder, right click and select New Document > Document (or whatever name you saved the file with).

A blank document opens where you can add text. Rename the file and choose a folder to save it.

5. Resize and rotate images from context menu

Depending on the Linux distro you use on your computer, you will get an image editor preinstalled in the operating system, which you can use to edit images.

However, if you are using Nautilus, there is a better and more efficient way to do it. 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

Once you are done installing, open Nautilus again and navigate to the folder containing the images you want to convert or resize.

Right click on the image and select Resize images or Rotate imagesaccording to your need, and you will get a suitable prompt screen with different options for the chosen action.

Adjust the properties (size or rotation) and perform the desired operation. Once the editing is complete, you will see the edited image in the same folder.

6. Show hidden files

Many configuration files that you ever need to edit on Linux are often hidden in the file manager. While you can open these files directly from the terminal using a text editor, if you want to view hidden files and folders in the GUI, you must open the Show hidden files option in Nautilus.

To do this, click on the hamburger menu icon in the Nautilus toolbar and check the Show hidden files choice. Once enabled, you should now be able to see all hidden files in folders.

7. Quickly access recently visited folders

Nautilus has plenty of useful features that let you do more with fewer clicks. However, many of these features are not well known even to some longtime Nautilus users.

For example, the ability to access your most recently visited folders using the left arrow key is such a function. You can also right click on it Back option in the Nautilus toolbar to view your most visited folders.

So when you’re working your way into a folder and need to go back a few folders, right-click on the Back icon and choose a folder to go directly to it.

8. Open a folder as administrator

Sometimes there will be situations where you want to open a folder as root (with administrator privileges), maybe to open and edit files or paste some copied files.

With Nautilus you can do this via the nautilus-admin package. Open the terminal and install the package containing:

sudo apt install nautilus-admin

Then close the Nautilus file manager by running:

nautilus -q

Or press the Close to button to close Nautilus.

After that, open Nautilus again and visit the folder you want to access as an administrator. Right click on the empty space and select Open as administrator. When prompted for an administrator password, enter the password and press Authenticate.

Deleting files in Nautilus is simple: you right-click on the file you want to delete and select the Move to Trash option from the context menu.

As you do this, the file you just deleted will be moved to the Trash so that you can recover it later. However, sometimes there are files that you want to delete permanently.

In such situations, you have the delete permanently choice. It is available in Nautilus, but you have to enable it manually.

To do this, open Nautilus Preferences. Scroll down to the Optional context menu actions section and enable the option for delete permanently.

If you need to delete a file permanently, right-click it and choose delete permanently.

10. Enable the expanded view for folders in the list view

Nautilus offers two options for viewing the contents of a directory: List view and Grid view. While both views work fine, if you’ve used List View, you must have noticed that to access the contents of a folder, you have to double-click to open it, which can be a bit tedious.

Fortunately, there is a way around this, allowing you to instantly expand folders with a single click. To do this, go to Nautilus Preferences and under Generalput the switch in front Expandable Folders in List View.

Now each folder has a small arrow on the left that you can click to expand the folder and view/open its contents.

Symbolic links (also known as symlinks) are shortcuts that allow you to create links to files and folders so that they can be accessed from more than one location. In a way, they resemble regular shortcuts, except they behave as if the linked object is in the same location.

One of the ways to create symlinks on Linux is to use the ln command. However, if you are not familiar with the CLI, Nautilus has a hidden feature that allows you to create symlinks interactively.

To use it, first enable the feature by going to Nautilus Preferencesscroll to the Optional context menu actionsand turn on the switch for Create link.

Once that’s done, when you want to create a symbolic link, right-click on the file or folder you want to create a symbolic link for and select To copy. Then go back to the folder where you want to save this symbolic link, right click on the empty space and select Create link.

Do more with Nautilus on Linux!

Enabling certain hidden features and adding a few new ones in Nautilus can help you get the most out of file management on Linux. Not only does this simplify some trivial operations, but it also expands Nautilus’ range of use, allowing you to perform certain operations that you would otherwise use another program for.

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 you should check out.

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