Nautilus 3.22 – News & Changes

Nautilus 3.22 is reaching it’s final phase, and as I have been doing in the past, this post will explain what new tools and improvements we worked hard to implement, what changes to expect, and what we couldn’t fit in. I need to confess I’m excellently amazed with this release, it has so many new things that I’m proud to say this is the best release we did of Nautilus since I became maintainer. This is possible thanks to all the underneath work we have been doing, and sometimes this requires the removal and re-implementation of some tools in a different form.


Lets take a look what we included in this release

Multiple Files Renaming

For some time users of Nautilus lacked a tool for rename multiple files at once. We relied on external tools or command line utilities. It’s true that other file managers had utilities for multiple files renaming for long time, including Finder from MacOSX. Thing is we weren’t happy with how those worked and the experience they provide. So we designed and put lot of though on making, in my humble opinion, the best batch renaming tool we could have.

We allow to use the metadata of the files when available, which is for me the biggest win in our tool. I’m happy I could rename all my music files using the track number, album name and track name. Same for TV shows, where you can add the season and episode. And for pictures, the camera and the date taken.

A picture worth 1000 words

Search & Replace

batch rename3

Rename with a template & metadata of files

batch renaming1

Conflicts handling

batch renaming2

And a real use case

batch rename music

Finally my music library renamed with the same pattern! I think you will agree with me this is pretty amazing. Thanks Alex Pandelea for this work!

Compressed files integration

You may be aware that we have been using File Roller since forever to handle compressed files. However, this makes integration with Nautilus none. It misses the progress report integration, undo, redo, and possibility to close the application while the operation continues. Finally we tackled this, it was a big amount of work where we needed to create a new library to handle compression and decompression in a way that can be integrated with Nautilus and other GNOME projects. For instance we would like Evolution and Epiphany to automatically compress/decompress archives on upload/download. Using this library, called gnome-autoar, is pretty simple.

Again, a picture worth 1000 words, let’s look at compression dialog

compress window.png

We provide a sensible set of options. Now let’s take a look at compression progress integration.


We finally have status report, undo, redo and operation integration like any other Nautilus operation!

The same applies for decompressing. Overall, this is something we have been pursuing for years, and the output is pretty cool. This allows us to finally be able decompress archives by default when double clicking on them, so the user doesn’t need to handle compressed archives, which usually provide much less information like thumbnails etc than a regular folder. In case you still prefer to use file roller or any other application by default to manage your compressed files, we added a preference in the preferences window.

Here you can see the option “Extract the files on open”preferences.png

Thanks Razvan Chitu for this work!

View menus

As you may be aware, we perform user testings regularly. In the last user testings  was found that the view menus of Nautilus had some issues that could be improved for a better UX experience. The design team put some though into it and came with a design that fix these issues, and Neil Herald implemented them. Here are the results


Now the grid/list button changes between the two kind of views, and we merged and improved the hamburguer menu to include all the options we wanted. The zoom slider was one of the most fails in the user testings, so we took a similar approach of what Firefox has.

I’m quite happy we fixed the user testing issues we found every release!

Separate desktop handling from Nautilus

There are two monsters on Nautilus. One is the operations handling, the other, the views.

Since I became maintainer of Nautilus my top goal was to re-implement the views of Nautilus to provide what we should have in a modern file manager. This requires an amount of work unimaginable, and part of that is because Nautilus handles the desktop window, which is made by several amount of hacks all around Nautilus to make it work. This needed to be split before any work can be started on the views part, and it is not easy. We started one year ago, and I’m happy to say, this release we finished the work on the Nautilus side, separating the desktop program and code from regular Nautilus. Now if the desktop crash, Nautilus won’t. This allows us to finally implement a modern and responsive view for your files!

This is a peek video at the view I prototyped thanks to this work


However, this requires also work on Gtk+ for improving the performance, which is what we are going to try to tackle next release. More than half step is done!

Better folder creation from selection

This is a small touch, but I think worth mentioning. When selecting multiple files and creating a folder with them, we will search for a common prefix and use that as default name. Here is a picture

new folder

Thanks Neil Herald for working on it!

(Updated, I forgot!) Hide floating bar on mouse hover

The floating bar is what is shown in the rightmost lowest corner of Nautilus with information. However, that can get in the way if the information is displaying is long and obscures the actual content of the view. For that, we implemented a new behaviour that makes the floating bar disappears if the user hovers it with the mouse.

with floating bar
Mouse not hovering floating bar
withouth floating bar
Mouse hovering floating bar

What we couldn’t include

As always, we want to put into a release as much as we can, but we are still humans 🙂

There are two important items that weren’t possible to include in this release.

Action & Info bar

One is the action-info bar we have been experimenting with. We didn’t include it because we weren’t sure about the design and implementation. However we can peek at the prototype

action bar.png

We will continue experimenting in the next release.

Thanks Georges Stravacas for working on it!

New Path bar

The path bar is the widget in the top of the Nautilus window that shows the path, and allows to interact with the hierarchy of the current folder where the user is. We have been trying to update it with a more sane code and elegant design. I have been working on it and iterating through almost 4 different designs for one year and a half.

After all the experimenting, we finally decided on a design!


However, there are technical limitations in the Gtk+ toolkit for make it work in the way designers imagined. So this has been an experiment for me and towards Gtk+ to push its limits. Finally I found a way to make it work, but all the nice projects I mentioned previously came in.

I’m sad I didn’t manage to include it in this release. On the other side I’m happy that we have a prototype and that we will have more time for testing and reviewing.

If you want to take a peek, here is a video demo

Wrapping up

There has been a lot more into this release, from small tweaks to big refactorings and bug fixing. We even created a single code style for Nautilus (it had a mix of 3 styles) and (be careful it might crash your browser) changed all the files to it, which was a demand from all the regular contributors. (edit: please don’t argue about this, the style is agreed by the ones that work on Nautilus every day that makes our performance and life better. Just a matter of practicity. Nothing more, nothing else 🙂 ).

Old style
New style

For this release we have around 900 commits and five regular contributors, which I want to thank one that has not been mentioned here, but it does all what we really need in the places nobody dare to, you rock Ernestas Kulik.

If you want to try last version with updates every day and parallel installable to not affect your installed Nautilus, take a look at the Flatpak installation of latest Nautilus.

Hope you like what we have been working on and enjoy it!


81 thoughts on “Nautilus 3.22 – News & Changes

    1. Thanks! Don’t be sorry, you are doing an outstanding job. Only thing I’m worry about is you burning out, please take it easy 🙂

  1. So many great new features! This is really an exciting release.

    Makes me look forward to contribute again. I hope I can soon give a hand again at testing and triaging bugs during the next cycle.

    Congratulations, csoriano and the whole team, and thanks for the amazing work.

    1. Hey Antonio! Indeed, your help in bugzilla and testing is always appreciated, we can feel the difference. You are more than welcome to come when you have a little more time 🙂

  2. Indeed, this Nautilus release seems to be the big one I have ever seen :-).
    Thank you for this detailed post and of course this future release

  3. This looks great! Another feature I’m waiting for a long time is the ability to pause copy / move operations. Is there anything planned in this direction?

    1. yeah that would be cool. We are planning a complete rework of the operations backend, so this is probably one of the points to tackle.

  4. Nice work! Regarding the path bar, do you think a fade out effect (like the one used in the shell) would be a good idea? It would certainly look nice and GNOME-y.

    1. Not sure where do you refer to, but fade-out fade-in effect is going to be there for all the animations in the path bar. I have it deactivated for debugging the animations easily and forgot to enable them for the video.

      1. You know, the ones used when you scroll in the shell, like in the search results or in the message notification.

        Do you have a video with the fade effect at hand? I’m quite curious!

  5. The thing that really annoys me about Nautilus is how my Bookmarks do not stay in the same place on the sidebar. They periodically move up and down the sidebar. Why do they not stay put? Why can they not be displayed statically in an alphabetical listing? I am always having to scan the list to find where the Bookmark has been moved to. Very annoying!

    Also, I access my Bookmarks with the greatest frequency, yet Bookmarks are relegated to second-class status at the bottom of the sidebar list. It would sure be nice to be able to put Bookmarks at the top of the sidebar.

  6. Looks great! especially the multiple rename tool looks fantastic! I have only two wishes so far: If you are reworking the breadcrumbs I beg you, to implement a mouse action to switch to the edit mode (CTRL+l). I guess a double click would be cool. The second wish would be a reimplementation of the “parent folder” button plus the backspace key as short cut. But I know, I won’t get it!

  7. I miss an easy way to go to root folder. This was possible in earlier version in left side bar and even in breadcrumb navigation via left arrow button. Of course I can add a bookmark, but why is it gone? Or is it just Sabayon who mispatched Nautilus? (I’m on Sabayon)

    1. Usually you don’t have permissions to touch the root folder, neither it’s something a regular user should have the need to access to. So there is no access for it in the path bar or sidebar, but rather in the Other Locations sidebar menu view.

      1. Is the plan to remove it completely, or re-implement it somehow? I always thought it would be nice to have a permanent information bar somewhere that doesn’t overlap the file view. That way it can show useful information even if a file or folder isn’t selected and UI elements don’t have to fight over that 18 pixels of real estate, making extra work for the user.

      2. I see the section that talks about it, but it doesn’t mention removing it — only hiding it — and I can’t find any links to discussion. Hence my comment. 🙂

      3. Maybe it was not clear by the pictures. The “Action & Info bar” is the new replacement of that.

      4. Aaand there is no links to discussion or mockups as I said 🙂 I just remember they were kinda “internal” between us since it was a really early prototype. I will update the info about this on the future.

  8. One feature I dislike in Nautilus is how dates are shown when files are listed by name. There should be an option to always show the full date of files. Different formats should be available, including the international one (e.g., 2016-09-02, or 2016-Sep-02), and the time should always be shown.

    1. Hey, what kind of new file? and image or so? There is a feature called “templates” where you can put any type of file (images, videos, libreoffice impress, etc.) you want to replicate and it will appear in the right context menu.

  9. In the background of the latest Elementary OS release, how easy would it be to back port some of the features? E.g. I like the column view very much in order to move files in deeper folder hierarchies.

    1. Simply put, hard. Marlin file manager (or pantheon is how I think the fork they use is called) has nothing to do with Nautilus, and it has a different code base and widgets (I actually like that code). Said that, I believe we don’t want that kind of view. We would need to check with designers.

    1. Hello,

      Having separate code just inprove both the desktop and regular Nautilus. So it means nothing regarding be abandoned or not, it stays in the same level of interest as before, which is not much, since it’s not what we want in our designs of gnome-shell and nautilus.

      1. Hello … Thanks for responding.

        I know that the desktop icons do not receive attention long ago, and I hope this can change a bit in the future (at least solve some annoying bugs). Thank you very much.

  10. @Bastián thanks for writing that comment – it finally made me go and find the setting in tweak ui to re-enable desktop icons, have no idea why they got disabled in the first place.

  11. Wow, Nautilus is better than ever! Thanks a lot for these great updates and all the hard work from the Nautilus team. Back in the days, I used to be jealous of other file managers for having more features, better design choices and less annoyances than Nautilus. Nowadays, I feel like the opposite is true. There is no other file manager I would prefer over Nautilus (maybe not even a single feature that I think another file manager handles better… O_O). And the new path bar design is exquisite, looking forward!

  12. Greate work! But let me suggest one thing: now that file-roller is no longer integrated into Nautilus, I miss the “protect with password” option when compressing files. Do you think it would be possible to add it? Fortunately the interface would still remain simple enough.

    1. hey, that’s actually one of our top priorities, however it needs libarchive work which is not directly on our hands

  13. Things are really coming on 🙂

    I landed here, because I was wondering if you have seen the old nautilus extension nautilus columns ? It let you have columns for stuff like image + media metadata. When I have to use windows, a really typical use case for this sort of thing, is that on directories with images I add columns for image dimensions or other useful data, in media directories it will be stuff like id3 tags.

    I think (though) might be wrong, that explorer sets these as defaults.

    Any chance of functionality like this landing in nautilus ?

    Some screenshots of nautilus-columns here:

  14. Please, please, please! Let me help with UI. Don’t make the “floating bar” float. Copy Windows/OSX and put that information in a permanent bar at the bottom of the window. It shouldn’t ever be on top of files obscuring them from sight. Making it go away with mouse hover is putting a band-aid on a gunshot wound. I was blocked from seeing file size behind this floating window on the bottom item in a window in nautilus 2 days ago, and remember the agony vividly.

    Use anything but radio buttons for sorting by A-Z, Z-A…. it’s unreasonable to “sort” things as icons in grids anyway. Sorting happens in a list. In a list, there is an axis to sort along, in Ubuntu/OSX/Windows, that is the y-axis. In a grid, there are two axes, so it makes no sense to sort them along a single dimension like Date Created. You run into all sorts of problems based on peoples’ different cultural defaults: do you read left to right, then up to down, right to left then up to down, right to left, down to up, up to down then left to right, etc. etc. THIS IS NOT UNIVERSAL. You will end up confusing millions of people, depending on which arbitrary decision you make. English, Japanese, Korean, Chinese text is read in rows/columns in different patterns. So avoid making any decision, and don’t sort 2 dimensional grids of icons by 1 dimensional properties like Name: A-Z. Sort 1-dimensional lists by 1-dimensional properties.

    I found this post because I’m searching for the ability to SHOW the “Kind” column in nautilus. (i.e. filetype column). I still haven’t found a solution to this really basic and common problem. Windows/OSX do this easily. Click on the Kind column. Normal people view things they want to sort in lists, not icons. So make it easy to show/hide columns for Date Created, Date Modified, Kind (filetype), Name, etc. Then, it’s quite intuitive to click on the column header to sort by that property. Click again to reverse. I.e. click on “Name” to sort alphabetically. Click on “Name” again to sort reverse alphabetically. It would be really weird to try and sort a bunch of icons in a grid alphabetically, so no need to focus on that “problem”.

    Also, radio buttons suck because they’re a tiny target. I get that it’s a list of 6 things where 1 and only 1 can be selected at a time. Far better from a usability standpoint is make a “radio buttons list” but make it look like a checkmark beside the selected item. Make the entire rectangle that includes each word a clickable target. For example, let me click anywhere on “First Modified” and the rectangular whitespace belonging to that choice. When I do, put the checkmark beside it and “select” that option in the code, as if it were a radio button.

    1. One last idea that’s been eating away at me. Windows and Nautilus both suck for not telling you the size of the contents of directories. OSX has had this for a long time. Always show a size. A folder/directory is not “-“. It’s the size of everything inside.

      1. I misspoke. A folder/directory size is not “39 items”. It’s “54MB”, or whatever’s the size of everything inside.

      2. True, we would like to have this, but it requires either lot of computation of the sizes or some more advanced inotify system with tracker etc to be able to track the whole home directory

  15. I started having a problem with docx files. They are considered archives by Nautilus even though “Properties” correctly reports application/vnd.openxmlformats-officedocument.wordprocessingml.document. Also, “Properties” reports default application to be LibreOffice, but when one clicks on the file it is treated as archive. If I open the file with file-roller, it reports it to be application/zip.

  16. Thanks for the updates. I just changed from Jessie to Stretch. One huge bug is that you cannot click the columns for sorting in search view. This is the most crucial feature for me. I perform a search, and I need to sort the results by modified-time. This is not possible any longer, it used to work in Jessie. Please can you create a ticket for this bug!

  17. Sorry, and a second thing. In Jessie, it was possible to open a file with an alternative program by simple right click, using the open-with menu. For instance, my default for images is image viewer, but 50% of the time I want to select Gimp instead. Removing this sub-menu is very annoying, because ‘Other Application’ means two extra clicks and visual noise. It would be great if this feature in Jessie is not removed in Stretch.

  18. A lot of good things but how can I reenable rar integration or volumes, or passwords or not tar.zx, 7z, zip compression? I mean, I love 7z but I want to do volumes too. I want to use nautilus/gnome-files because is still the best out ther but this is a peak issue. The tools are out there but I can’t bring them to the contextual menu…

      1. Hey, what made you come so late to this blog post? 🙂

        Anyway, just choose your desired application for opening compressed files in properties->open with.

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