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7 Ubuntu File Manager Features You May Not Have Noticed

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The Nautilus file manager included with Ubuntu includes some useful features you may not notice unless you go looking for them. You can create saved searches, mount remote file systems, use tabs in your file manager, and more.

Ubuntu’s file manager also includes built-in support for sharing folders on your local network – the Sharing Options dialog creates and configures network shares compatible with both Linux and Windows machines.

Saved Searches

The Nautilus file manager contains a Search button that allows you to search for files and specify a specific location or file type.

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To save a search for later, click the File menu and select Save Search As after performing a search. Specify a name and location for your saved search. It will appear as a folder ending with .savedSearch.

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This is a virtual folder that displays the results of the search you saved – double-click the folder to perform the search and view its results as the contents of the folder. The contents of the folder will change as the files on your system change.

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Mounting Remote File Systems

Click the File menu and select Connect To Server to mount remote SSH, FTP, Windows share (SAMBA), or WebDAV file systems. They’ll appear in the file manager’s sidebar and can be used as if they were a folder on your system. For more information, check out our post on mounting remote folders in Ubuntu.

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File Manager Tabs

Like a modern web browser, Nautilus contains tabs. You can open a new file manager tab by clicking the File menu and selecting New Tab or middle-click a folder to open it in a new tab.

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Sending Files

Select one or more files, right-click them, and select Send To in the menu to open the Send To dialog. You can attach the files to an email, send them over the Empathy instant messenger, push them over Bluetooth, burn them to a disc, or copy them to a removable disk. The Send To dialog can automatically compress the selected files into an archive file – particularly useful if you’re sending multiple files over the Internet.

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Selecting Files Matching a Pattern

Use the Select Items Matching option in the Edit menu to select files matching a specific pattern. For example, you could select all files in a folder with a certain file extension, or only files with certain text in their name. Use the * character to match any number of characters and the ? character to match a single character. For example, *.png would match all files ending with .png. file-?.png would match file-1.png and file-2.png, but not file-12.png.

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Creating Files From Templates

Place files in the the Templates file in your home directory to easily create files based on them. Once you’ve placed a file here, you can right-click in any folder and use the Create New Document menu to create a copy of the template at a new location.

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Middle Click Drag & Drop

When you drag and drop a file or folder with the left mouse button, Nautilus will copy or move it to the new location, depending on whether the location is on the same drive or not. For more fine-grained control, press the middle mouse button, drag and drop the file or files, and then release the mouse button. Use the menu that appears to copy, move, or create links to the files at the new location.

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Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.

  • Published 06/26/12

Comments (13)

  1. nadir

    true, thank you

  2. Praveen

    F3 – `Extra Pane` is also nice.

  3. Kiran

    @Praveen.

    Thanks for showing me an interesting F3 feature, this helps me a lot.

  4. motang

    I knew a couple of them, but the rest will surely come in handy, thanks.

  5. cam2644

    Like motang some of this I knew already but it always helps to have a bit more pointed out. Thanks

  6. Pepper Networks

    I’m use to the ability in Windows to right-click-and-drag with the options popping up to move/copy/link the file. Surprised to find out that it’s middle-click in Ubuntu. Do I need to add a 3-button mouse to my laptop or will holding down both buttons on the touchpad work? I’ll have to test that out.

    The ability to right-click in Nautilus and open a terminal whose working directory is the same as where you clicked is still not installed by default. You have to add it with:

    sudo apt-get install nautilus-open-terminal

    and restart Nautilus for it to take affect.

    Keep the Ubuntu articles coming!

  7. Roger Davis

    I know that just “being different” has some value (Nautilus vs Wondoze), but there should be CAREFUL consideration whenever a common procedure has a different method than in Windoze. If I had only known the middle button instead of right button trick yesterday, it would have saved me lots of time.

  8. Chaz Worm

    I’ve worked on computers over 20 years now and I’ve always wanted a file manager that would show the amount of MBs utilized in each folder. I know about right-clicking and properties. I just wished the MBs used was advertised more predominately.

  9. insanelyapple

    Dont know about other language versions of Ubuntu, but polish one doesnt have any templates and you need Ubuntu Tweak to add them.

  10. Satyajit Sahoo

    “Nautilus” is not just “Ubuntu File Manager”. It is the file manager in Gnome.

  11. manuxos

    @Roger Davis
    I think using Ubuntu for instance is not anymore about being “different”, nor has it to be compared with Windows. You wouldn’t make the same comment about Mac OS, would you ?

  12. manuxos

    (if it had enough mouse button of course)

  13. Scott

    Thank you. You just made me like Nautilus a little more. :)

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