Data Management

Five tips to make Nautilus file management even better

Nautilus is a powerful and user-friendly file manager -- but it doesn't stop there. Jack Wallen explains several ways you can extend its usefulness and tap into additional functionality.

Nautilus is one of the most powerful, versatile file managers on any operating system. Not only is it flexible, it's also extensible and easy to use. Anyone can benefit from this file manager. Out of the box, Nautilus is an ideal file management tool for new users. And power users can take advantage of various tricks to get even more from the tool. Here are a few ways to bring out the power in Nautilus.

1: Save time with actions

Nautilus-actions is an add-on for the Nautilus file manager that lets you create context-sensitive actions based on various criteria. For example, say you want to be able to enqueue music into the Rhythmbox Play Queue (and have it automatically play) directly from a folder — without having to open Rhythmbox, find the music, add the music, and then play the music. With Nautilus Actions, you can do this. First, install nautilus-actions from the Add/Remove Software utility. Then, click on System > Preferences > Nautilus Actions Configuration. Once in this new window, create a new action using the rhythmbox-client command to enqueue and play the music. NOTE: See the man page for the command for the options you will need to use.

2: Add file sharing

If you've been using a more modern release of your distribution, you know that file sharing has come quite a long way since the days of having to manually edit a Samba configuration. Now you can simply right-click a folder and select Sharing Options. There may be a dependency or two to install, but you will be prompted for that. Once you have everything installed (if necessary), just fill in the information for the share. That folder will then be available to anyone on your network (depending upon how you share it).

3: Show/hide hidden folders

You know about hidden folders in Linux, right? Anything beginning with a "." is a hidden folder. But did you know that you can toggle from hiding to showing hidden folders in Nautilus with a simple key combination? By hitting [Ctrl]H, you can either hide or show hidden folders. You can also click View > Show Hidden Folders if you are one to shy away from keyboard combinations.

4: Delete files

As a precautionary tactic, Nautilus sends "deleted" files to the Trash Can and doesn't permanently delete them. You can change this default behavior by opening the Preferences window and then, from the Behavior tab, selecting Include A Delete Command That Bypasses Trash under the Trash section. Now when you want to delete an item you will have two options: Send To Trash or Delete.

5: Open a root user Nautilus window

Sometimes, you need to open a root Nautilus window without having to open a terminal window and issuing the command sudo nautilus. To do this, you need to edit the file /usr/share/applications/Nautilus-root.desktop. To the bottom of this file, add the following entry:

[Desktop Entry]Name=Nautilus (Root)

Comment=Browse the filesystem with the file manager

Exec=gksudo "nautilus —browser %U"





Save this file and then click Applications > System Tools > Nautilus (Root). You will have to enter your root password to begin using Nautilus opened as the root user. I would suggest you change the background color of the root user Nautilus file manager so you KNOW, without a doubt, that you have an admin-level file manager open.

Final thoughts

Nautilus is an incredibly flexible and powerful file manager, and tips for using it go on and on and on. Regardless of whether you like the GNOME desktop, you can't deny how useful this tool is. And when you begin to start stretching Nautilus to perfectly fit your needs, you might discover new and better ways to do your work.

About Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website

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