Ubuntu – Traditional search-as-you-type on newer Nautilus versions


Until now I was using a "traditional" version of Nautilus: that that comes with Ubuntu 10.10. Now I'm using 3.6.3, included with Ubuntu 13.04 (most likely any recent version is equivalent for the scope of my question, anyway).

One major difference between the two is the search-as-you-type behavior: in classic versions of Nautilus, when you typed an input, the file with the closest alphabetical match would become the selected one, the eligible files/folders being restricted to the current directory.

The new behavior is to perform an optionally-global search instead.

Can one configure Nautilus to provide the previous functionality ?

Best Answer

Ubuntu 17.10 and later

As the type-ahead search was a Ubuntu-specific patch, it got dropped together with Unity in 17.10. However there is a package called nautilus-typeahead in the Arch repository. Someone took it, compiled for Ubuntu and made a PPA. You can install it by these three commands:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:lubomir-brindza/nautilus-typeahead
sudo apt dist-upgrade
nautilus -r

There is an issue on Launchpad about bringing this behavior back to official Ubuntu.

Ubuntu 14.04 to 17.04

Since the Ubuntu 14.04 LTS release type-ahead-find was the default behaviour in Nautilus again.

You can use a dconf key to switch between the different search modes:

  • enable type-ahead-find:

    gsettings set org.gnome.nautilus.preferences enable-interactive-search true

  • disable type-ahead-find in favor of recursive search:

    gsettings set org.gnome.nautilus.preferences enable-interactive-search false

Ubuntu 13.04 and 13.10

Nautilus 3.6.X cuts many features from the 3.4 and older versions. Canonical decided to keep using nautilus 3.4.2 in Ubuntu 12.10 because if this even though Nautilus 3.6 was already released. I don't think it is possible to get the old search behaviour in 3.6 but what I did was to install the SolusOS patched Nautilus (also works for Ubuntu 13.04) which includes all the features from 3.4.2 (it really is Nautilus 3.4.2) while maintaining the Nautilus 3.6 skin. I've tested this particular package and it works fine in Ubuntu 12.10 and 13.04.

Alternatively you could install the Nemo File Explorer which is a fork of Nautilus 3.4 that was made due to the Cinnamon dev team being disappointed with Nautilus 3.6, you can get the install instructions here.

Making it your default file browser is a bit more tricky, this blog post worked for me in Ubuntu 12.10 but some users reported the method not to work properly.

There are alternative methods however. See the following question:

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