How to manage bookmarks in Nautilus

There are a number of ways you can work with bookmarks in the Nautilus file manager, and Jack Wallen shows you them all.


Nautilus file manager

The Nautilus file manager is just one of the many file managers available for the Linux desktop. Although it may not be the most powerful or flexible, it is the default tool for Ubuntu Unity and GNOME 3. 

Out of the box, Nautilus has enough features to make it highly usable and user-friendly. One of those features is the included bookmarks system. Just like bookmarks in your web browser, you can save locations within Nautilus that enable you to quickly get to your most-used locations on your file hierarchy. There are a number of ways you can work with bookmarks, and I'm going to show you them all.

You can bookmark the following:

  • Local directories
  • Directories on connected external drives
  • Network drives via SMB

The bookmarking process can be done through both the Nautilus GUI or by editing the flat-text configuration file. I'll illustrate how this is done via the config file first, then we'll move onto the GUI.

The configuration file for the Nautilus bookmarking system is ~/.config/gtk-3/bookmarks. Open that file in your favorite text editor, and you'll see the structure looks like:






The format of the configuration line should be easy to figure out. For SMB shares, the structure looks like:



  • IP_ADDRESS is the IP address location of the SMB share
  • SHARE_NAME is the name of the share
  • SHARE_BOOKMARK_NAME is the human-readable name for the bookmarking

You can add as many bookmarks as you like within this configuration file. As soon as you save that file, the bookmarks will automatically appear in the bottom left pane of the Nautilus file manager (Figure A).

Figure A


Figure A

Bookmarks appear in the bottom left pane of Nautilus.

Now that we've brought the GUI into the picture, let's see how bookmarks are handled there. There are a couple of ways you can add bookmarks to Nautilus. The first is with a keyboard shortcut. Here's how:

  1. Navigate to the location you want to bookmark
  2. Press the [Ctrl]+[D] key combination
  3. Check the lower left pane to make sure the bookmark appears

That's it.

You can also use the GUI like so:

  1. Navigate to the location you want to bookmark
  2. Click on the gear icon in the upper right corner
  3. Select Bookmark This Location
  4. Check the lower left pane to make sure the bookmark appears

Moving bookmarks

Let's say the location of a bookmark has changed or you just want to re-order the bookmarks as displayed in Nautilus. To manage this, open up Nautilus and then click File | Bookmarks. From within this new window (Figure B), you can rename bookmarks, re-locate bookmarks, and re-order the bookmarks as they appear in the bottom left pane of the file manager.

Figure B


Figure B

The Nautilus Bookmarks window is where you can manage current bookmarks.

Renaming a bookmark only changes the human-readable name that appears in the file manager. To do this, select one of your bookmarks from the Bookmarks window and then change the Name field to reflect exactly what you want it to be. There is no need to “save,” because the changes are automatic.

From that same window, you can re-order the bookmarks as they are seen in Nautilus. This is done by simply selecting the bookmark (in the Bookmarks window) and then clicking either the up or down arrow (depending upon how you want the bookmark to move) until the bookmark is in the correct location. Again, no saving is necessary.

Finally, you can re-locate a bookmark in this window. If you've moved your Documents folder from ~/Documents to /media/DATA/Documents and you want the bookmark to reflect this, just open the Bookmarks window, select that particular bookmark, and change the path (no saving necessary).

One hiccup

I've come across instances where all bookmarks disappear from Nautilus. I can't explain why this happens, but when it does, there's a a simple trick to get them back.

  1. Open up Nautilus
  2. Create a new bookmark
  3. Watch your bookmarks re-appear
  4. Go back into the Bookmark window and remove the newly created bookmark (unless you want to keep it)

That should do it.

I'm a big fan of using anything to save me time. The Nautilus bookmarks feature is one such time-saving tool. Once you get used to using them, you'll wonder how you ever worked with a file manager that didn't have bookmarks. 

What file manager do you prefer? Share your opinion in the discussion thread below.