Nautilus file-manager Guide/Notes

for the Gnome2 desktop environment

'MATE' is a fork of the Gnome2 desktop manager,
and 'Caja' is the MATE file-manager,
forked from Nautilus.
Some of these notes apply to 'Caja'.

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This Gnome2-Nautilus file-manager Guide page

! Note !
More notes or links or images may be added,
if/when I re-visit this page.

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(Skip the following Introduction)


Although you can often EVENTUALLY find answers to questions on how to do specific things in the Gnome2 Nautilus file-manager via web-searches, I often forget how I did something --- how to get to a GUI interface window, what configuration file was edited, what changes were made to fix a problem, etc.

A lot of information found via web searches is out of date, so it is often necessary to try several things before finding a (simplest) working solution.

After reading about several different ways (often wrong or did-not-work ways) to do something, it becomes difficult to remember what actually worked.

These notes are mainly for my own reference --- for example, when I have to update an operating system and have to re-do many of the actions I performed on an earlier release.

Perhaps these notes will help others too. But be aware that these notes are not meant to be a comprehensive tutorial. They simply document some of the issues I have encountered with the Nautilus file-manager environment.

For some 'issues', there are links to helpful 'external' web pages, like computer forum pages.

Because external web links frequently go dead, I will, ordinarily, extract the pertinent web page information into this page, to preserve the helpful information.

Since I seldom take copious notes at the time of dealing with an issue, these notes may be updated as I re-discover information --- such as web links that I used at the time of dealing with the issue.

How the notes are presented :

The notes are in groups chosen according to the issues I encountered. There is a table of contents below with links to the several groups of notes. You can use the Table of Contents (TOC), or simply scroll down this page.

Alternatively, for navigation, you can use the 'Find text' option of your web browser to look for keywords on this page. For example, if you are looking for information on sort issues, you could search for 'sort'.

The notes within each group (i.e. for each Nautilus/file-manager topic) are usually in order chronologically --- that is, according to the order in which I encountered the issues.

The Environment :

My experiences with Nautilus come mainly from experiences with Ubuntu 9.10 on my home computers. Why I chose Ubuntu is outlined in my Ubuntu Install Notes web page.

Table of Contents:

(links to sections below on this page ---
or links to other pages of this site)

End of Table of Contents.

Start of Nautilus/Caja notes sections.

< Go to Top of Page, above. >

Changing the Nautilus/Caja file-sort order:

Aournd 2010, many people expressed frustration with the way Gnome2 Nautilus sorts files.

The order of files is different from what you see with the 'ls' command.

By default, in releases around 2010, Nautilus ignores special characters and leading zeros in filenames when sorting the files.

In many cases, this can make it hard to make a file appear where you want it in a directory listing. You can do a web search on keywords such as 'nautilus sort order collate' to see many examples of user frustration --- around the 2005 to 2015 time frame.

It turns out that you can make Nautilus sort more like the 'ls' command, by putting the command


in a '.gnomerc' file in your home directory. After restarting your computer, Nautilus will sort differently.

Many people do not have a '.gnomerc' file in their home directory. So you can use your favorite text editor to create it.

Here is an image with a couple of comment lines.

    ## To 'fix' the near-universally agreed-upon sort problems in Nautilus:
    ## namely, Nautilus ignores special characters and leading zeros.
    export LC_COLLATE=C

You must make the '.gnomerc' file executable before restarting your computer. You can use a command like

chmod 755 .gnomerc


chmod 700 .gnomerc

when in your home directory, in a gnome-terminal window.

Or you can right-click the '.gnomerc' file in Nautilus, and in the pop-up menu choose 'Properties > Permissions' and make sure that owner access is set to Read-and-Write, and check the box labelled 'Allow executing file as program'.


A 2018 post at, points out that for the Caja file-manager (in the MATE desktop manager), you can put the LC_COLLATE line in the '.profile' file in the user home directory --- but the sort order may still not be exactly what you want in all cases.

External Links on Nautilus or Caja:

If you get stuck on a Nautilus or Caja problem, you could try a search on the site.

Alternatively, you could try a WEB SEARCH on keywords like:

Bottom of this
Gnome2-Nautilus (or MATE-Caja) Notes page.

To return to a previously visited web page, click on the Back button of your web browser a sufficient number of times.

OR, use the History-list option of your web browser.

OR ...

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Page history:

Page was created 2010 Mar 10.

Page was changed 2010 Nov 05.

Page was changed 2017 May 30.
(Added several links to the Table of Contents.)

Page was changed 2018 Dec 13.
(Added css and javascript to try to handle text-size for smartphones, esp. in portrait orientation. Added some links.)

Page was changed 2024 Mar 28.
(Changed links to 'external' web pages so they startup in a separate window or tab, so that this web page remains available.
In some places, I added 'MATE' where 'Gnome2' or Gnome' were mentioned, and 'Caja' where 'Nautilus' was mentioned.
I changed some text lines for greater clarity, hopefully.)