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11 Nautilus tweaks to get the most out of your file manager

1. Enable quick view

Quick Preview is one of the first features to be included in Nautilus. This allows you to view different types of files inside Nautilus like 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 a terminal and running the following command:

sudo apt install gnome-sushi

After that, close the terminal and the Nautilus file manager. This will give you a file previewer inside Nautilus.

Now open Nautilus again and navigate to the directory with the file you want to view. Click on file and click spaceto view it.

In addition, you can also browse the catalogs 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 the directory. Therefore, if you need to know the size of a file or the number of elements in a directory, you will have to follow several steps.

Luckily, Nautilus supports these options and you can turn them on in its settings.

Open Nautilus, click on the menu icon (with three horizontal lines) in the toolbar and select “Settings”. Scroll down to the Icon Labels section and click Start. Select “Size” from the available options and close the window.

You should now be able to see in advance the items contained in the directories and the size of the files/documents.

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

Navigate to the folder containing the directory you want to add to the sidebar. Drag it to the sidebar labeled “New Bookmark” and release the button to drop it there.

If you want to delete a directory at any time, right-click on it and choose Delete.

4. Quickly create new documents

Using the terminal is the fastest way to create a document. However, if you are not familiar with the command line interface, Nautilus has an easy GUI option for you. It is available 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 (called Text Editor on Ubuntu). This will open a new file. Save it as a document (or whatever name you like) in the templates directory on the main page. Close the text editor and Nautilus.

Now when you want to create a new document, go to that directory, right-click, and choose New Document > Document (or whatever name you saved the file under).

A blank document will open where you can add text. Give the file a new name and choose a directory to save it to.

5. Resize and rotate images from the context menu.

Depending on the Linux distribution you are running on your computer, you will get an image editor pre-installed on the OS that you can use to edit your images.

However, if you are using Nautilus, there is a better and more efficient way to do this. To do this, you need to use the ImageMagick program and the nautilus-image converter package.

First, open a terminal and run this command to install both packages:

sudo apt install imagemagick nautilus-image-converter

Once the installation is complete, open Nautilus again and navigate to the directory containing the images you want to convert or resize.

Right-click on the image and choose “Resize Images” or “Rotate Images” depending on your requirement and you will get a suitable prompt screen with different options for the selected action.

Adjust the properties (size or rotation) and perform the desired operation. After the operation is completed, 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 view hidden files and folders in the GUI, you’ll need to enable the “Show Hidden Files” option in Nautilus.

To do this, click on the hamburger menu icon in the Nautilus toolbar and uncheck Show Hidden Files. Once enabled, you will be able to see all hidden files inside directories.

7. Quick access to recently visited directories

Nautilus contains many great features to do more with fewer clicks. However, many of these features are little known even to some longtime Nautilus users.

For example, one such feature is the ability to access recently visited directories using the left arrow key. It also allows you to right-click the Back option in the Nautilus toolbar to view the most visited directories.

So whenever you navigate to a directory and need to go back a few directories, right-click the Back icon and select the directory to navigate to it directly.

8. Open the folder as administrator

Sometimes there will be situations where you will want to open a directory as root (with admin rights), perhaps to open and edit files or paste some copied files.

Nautilus allows you to do this with the nautilus-admin package. Open a terminal and install the package using:

sudo apt install nautilus-admin

Then exit the Nautilus file manager by running:

nautilus -q

Or click the “Close” button to close Nautilus.

After that, open Nautilus again and navigate to the directory you want to open as administrator. Right-click on an empty space and select “Open as administrator”. When prompted for an administrator password, enter the password and click Authenticate.

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

This moves the file you just deleted to the trash so you can restore it later. However, sometimes there may be files that you want to delete permanently.

In such situations, you need the Delete permanently option. It is available in Nautilus but you need to enable it manually.

To do this, open the Nautilus settings. Scroll down to the “Optional actions in the context menu” section and turn on the “Delete permanently” option.

If you need to permanently delete a file, right-click on it and select “Permanent Delete”.

10. Enable Expanded View for Folders in List View

Nautilus offers two options for viewing the contents of a directory: a list view and a grid view. While both views work fine, 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 it to open it, which can be a bit annoying.

Luckily, there is a way around this, which allows you to expand directories with a single click. To do this, go to “Nautilus Settings” and in the “General” section, check the radio button for “Expandable Folders in List View”.

Each directory will now have a small arrow on the left that you can click to expand the directory and view/access its contents.

Symbolic links (also called symbolic links) are shortcuts that allow you to create links to files and directories so that they can be accessed from multiple locations. In a way, they are similar to regular shortcuts, except that they behave as if the related object is in the same place.

One way to create symbolic links in Linux is to use the ln command. However, if you’re not familiar with the command line interface, Nautilus has a hidden feature that allows you to create symbolic links interactively.

To use it, first enable the feature by going to “Nautilus Settings”, scrolling to “Optional Context Menu Actions” and toggling the “Create Link” toggle.

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 Copy. Then go back to the directory where you want to save this symbolic link, right-click on an empty space and select “Create Link”.

Do more with Nautilus on Linux!

Enabling certain hidden features and adding a few new ones to Nautilus will allow you to get the most out of your Linux file manager. This not only simplifies some trivial operations, but also expands the scope of Nautilus, allowing you to perform certain operations that would otherwise require the use of another program.

If you’ve been using Nautilus for a while and want it to have more features/options, Linux also has a few other good file managers that you should check out.

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