Use Nautilus-Actions to easily and graphically create custom context menu options for Ubuntu’s Nautilus file manager. If you don’t want to create your own, you can install Nautilus-Actions-Extra to get a package of particularly useful user-created tools.

Nautilus-Actions is simple to use – much simpler than editing the Windows registry to add Windows Explorer context menu options. All you really have to do is name your option and specify a command or script to run.

Creating Your Own Actions

Grab the Nautilus-Actions Configuration Tool from the Ubuntu Software Center or run this command to install it:

sudo apt-get install nautilus-actions

After installing it, quit and restart the Nautilus file manager with the following command. You can also press Alt+F2 and type this command instead of running it in a terminal.

nautilus -q

Launch the Nautilus-Actions Configuration Tool from the Dash after installing it.

An Example Action

Nautilus-Actions has quite a few options to work with, but creating a basic action is pretty easy. For example, the Thunar file manager (install it from the Ubuntu Software Center or with sudo apt-get install thunar, if you like) has a pretty good Bulk Rename tool. Let’s create an action to open selected files in Thunar’s Bulk Rename tool, integrating it with Ubuntu’s file manager.

First, click the New Action button on the toolbar and type the name of your action into the Context Label box.

Click the Command tab and enter the command or script you want to use into the Path box — thunar -B, in our example. You should also enter the appropriate parameter into the Parameters box — you can click the Legend button to see a list of parameters you can use. In this case, we want the %B parameter to feed the Bulk Rename tool a space-separated list of file names. Nautilus-Actions shows you a preview of the command it will run, so you’ll know you’re on the right track.

Nautilus-Actions offers quite a few more options we can play with, but they’re unnecessary in this case. Click the Save button on the toolbar and your action will immediately be added to Nautilus. Right-click some files in Nautilus and you’ll see your new action in the Nautilus-Actions submenu.

If you created the Bulk Rename With Thunar action, you can click it and Thunar’s Bulk Rename interface will open (assuming you installed it) with the files automatically selected.

If you don’t like the submenu, click the Preferences button in the Nautilus-Actions Configuration Tool window and uncheck the “Create a root ‘Nautilus-Actions’ menu” option.

After running nautilus -q again to restart Nautilus, the submenu will disappear and you’ll see your new option in Nautilus’ main menu.

Advanced Options

Nautilus-Actions offers many more configuration options on its other tabs. For example, you can tell Nautilus-Actions to launch the specified command in a terminal.

Your action will appear for all files and folders by default, but you can match specific mimetypes (file types), file names, folders, and more.

Installing & Using Pre-Created Actions

To download some particularly useful actions that have been created by other users, install the nautilus-actions-extra package on your system:

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:nae-team/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install nautilus-actions nautilus-actions-extra

If you only want specific actions, you can install them from the PPA instead of installing the entire nautilus-actions-extra package.

Quit and restart Nautilus after installing the actions:

nautilus -q

After installing Nautilus-Actions-Extra, you’ll find quite a few new options in the file manager’s right-click context menus. Some actions appear when you right-click any file or group of files — for example, a mass rename option — while some actions only appear when you right-click a certain type of file — for example, an image or multimedia conversion option.

For example, the Set Emblem action, also known as Emblemizer, allows you to apply emblems to your folders and files. This feature was removed from Nautilus’ Properties dialog in Nautilus version 3.

Nautilus-Actions-Extra includes many more tools for everything from advanced search, editing text files as root, and mounting ISO files. If you want to do something from Nautilus’s right-click menu, there’s a good chance this package includes an option for it.

Profile Photo for Chris Hoffman Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times and Reader's Digest, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than one billion times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
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