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I always used compact view in Nautilus because I hate big icons and the list view doesn't let you extract archives conveniently by dragging and dropping files onto the free space (because there's no free space!) and it generally looks slower when scrolling.

Now they have removed the Compact Mode in new Nautilus:

https://bugzilla.gnome.org/show_bug.cgi?id=676842

http://git.gnome.org/browse/nautilus/commit/?id=241e462024070d9f79f4816256fc00ff5119e25f

and that guy says:

There is really little difference between compact mode and icon mode with labels on the side. Well, except for that that horrible horizontal scrolling.

So the question is then: how do I make icon labels on the side?

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This feature has been removed a few months ago (see the commit Remove text beside icons mode for icon view). The idea is to improve the list view instead so I guess you'll have to wait or stick with Nautilus 3.4 :

This doesn't really work well, it is inconsistent with the file chooser, isn't use anywhere else in GNOME, and we want to enhance the list view to cover this case.

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how do I make icon labels on the side?

Edit -> Preferences -> Icon View Defaults

Enable "text beside icons". Also decrease the zoom to have smaller icons.

You can use ctrl++ and ctrl+- to adjust the icons size as well.

Tibi

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Are you sure? There's no such option, only Default zoom level –  szx Dec 1 '12 at 11:07
    
What version are you using? I'm on 3.4.2. I'd better stay away from Nautilus updates... –  tibike Dec 1 '12 at 11:09
    
3.6.3 (see the title) –  szx Dec 1 '12 at 11:10
    
maybe you can try to install and run dconf-editor. check for icon view in org->gnome->nautilus –  tibike Dec 1 '12 at 11:13
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