I just installed Ubuntu 18.04.1 and I want to replace nautilus with Nemo. I first installed Nemo by using the following commands:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:embrosyn/cinnamon
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install nemo

I then used the following commands to make Nemo as the default file manager:

sudo xdg-mime default nemo.desktop inode/directory application/x-gnome-saved-search
sudo gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.background show-desktop-icons false
sudo gsettings set org.nemo.desktop show-desktop-icons true

I learned these commands from this post. However, I had to add sudo at the beginning of the last two commands to make it work, otherwise I receve the following error:

GLib-GIO-Message: 15:22:17.302: Using the 'memory' GSettings backend. Your settings will not be saved or shared with other applications.

After running the above commands, Nemo works properly but desktop icons are not shown. I tryied to fix this by opening Tweaks and checking the Show icons button. This makes desktop icons to show up again, but when I double click on them nautilus is oppened as the file manager.

I also realzed that once I launch Nemo (It's not necessary to keep it open), double clicking on desktop folders will not open nautilus (Nemo will be used). What do you think I should do to effectively make Nemo as the default file manager?

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    We have had a discussion on community.ubuntu.com about Nemo in 18.04. You can search it for Nemo and try to get complete solution. I do not remember the result of using Nemo instead of Nautilus. Also I think that you can use nemo from official repositories (not PPA). But I do not use both, since I use MATE DE. I'm tired of all these unexpected changes in the behavior of the desktops. – N0rbert Aug 19 '18 at 9:32
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    Everything you did as far as those commands was wrong. Sudo is not needed and shouldn't have been used. You should rerun the gsettings with sudo to revert them (use opposite value). As far as the xdg-mime command root likely now owns ~/.config/mimeapps.list so delete that file as root. (plus check the rest of your home dir. for root owned files or folders..) If you saw any change in desktop icons from running those gsettings commands as root then you have additional issues as nothing should have happened.. The 3 commands should have been run as a user. – doug Aug 19 '18 at 12:18
  • As far as nemo handling the desktop, that's done with the nemo-desktop command, this should be done via a autostart file. (can be initially checked thru alt+F2 > enter nemo-desktop – doug Aug 19 '18 at 12:20
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    Does this answer your question? Make nemo the default file browser – Cees Timmerman Jun 17 at 11:17
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    @CeesTimmerman "Make nemo the default file browser" is already mentioned in the question, so this question can't be a duplicate of it. – karel Jun 17 at 13:02
  • Fully tested in Ubuntu 18.04 running the default Gnome desktop.
  • Why use nemo over nautilus? See the several screenshots at the very end showing the great usage of space and features which nemo has.

This works for me: https://itsfoss.com/install-nemo-file-manager-ubuntu/

In short, to use Nemo instead of Nautilus as your default file manager, including to manage desktop icons, do:

sudo apt update
sudo apt install nemo
xdg-mime default nemo.desktop inode/directory application/x-gnome-saved-search
gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.background show-desktop-icons false
gsettings set org.nemo.desktop show-desktop-icons true

Then add the command nemo-desktop to your startup applications.

enter image description here

Reboot and run xdg-open $HOME to ensure it opens up your home folder in nemo now.

If you want your Computer, Home, Trash, etc. icons on your desktop again (you can see some of these shown in a screenshot farther below), see Mark Greaves' answer here. In short, install dconf-editor:

sudo apt install dconf-editor

Then open it via your GUI "start menu" launcher thing, and navigate to: org --> nemo--> desktop. You have options to show the following 5 things. I recommend you don't change anything else unless you know exactly what you're doing:

  1. computer-icon-visile (shown in the screenshot just below)
  2. home-icon-visible (shown in the screenshot just below)
  3. network-icon-visible
  4. trash-icon-visible
  5. volumes-visible

To change the desktop icon size when using nemo as your file manager, simply right-click on the desktop and go to Desktop --> Icon Size, as shown here:

enter image description here

To go back to using Nautilus instead of Nemo:

xdg-mime default nautilus.desktop inode/directory application/x-gnome-saved-search
gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.background show-desktop-icons true
sudo apt purge nemo nemo*
sudo apt autoremove

And remove the nemo-desktop command from your startup applications.

To choose which desktop options to display:

sudo apt install gnome-tweak-tool

Then open it by searching for "Tweaks" in your start menu, and going to --> Desktop tab on left.

enter image description here

Why use nemo over Ubuntu's default nautilus file manager?

This one's easy. Take a look at the beautiful use of space that nemo permits in Compact view. Look at all of the files you can see at once!

(Note that this view is NOT zoomed out all the way. You can still zoom out one more time while still seeing the file names, and one more time after that to see only tiny icons). I LOVE how compact you can see everything! Let this be a model for GUI file manager designers (Microsoft & Apple & Ubuntu/Nautilus, take note! :))

enter image description here

Versus the really user-unfriendly and space-wasting views available in the nautilus file manager (looking in the same directory in an identically-sized window):

  1. Icon view (zoomed all the way out):
    enter image description here
  2. Or, list view (zoomed all the way out): enter image description here

Aweful, in my opinion! I can't see hardly any files in comparison and it's much more difficult to find things!

Enough said. Notice the nice address bar you can easily type in in nemo too. In nautilus you have to use Ctrl + L to see the address bar to type in.


  1. Note that this answer was moved to this location from here: Change default file manager Ubuntu 18.04
  2. How to change desktop icon size?
  3. How to display Trash and Home folder icons?
| improve this answer | |
  • I just accepted your answer. Please update your answer by also considering my own answer in case some folks could not use gsettings due to an error caused by Anaconda (for Python). If you install recent versions of Anaconda it adds some stuff to your .bashrc file which causes the error mentioned in my Question. – Opt Sep 13 '19 at 16:02
  • @Opt, thanks! I find your answer difficult to follow since I have to click on links and read a bunch of stuff then guess which parts you did. Please update your answer with the detailed steps you followed, and why, and I'll update my answer to tell users that if they have X problem (please restate the exact error they will see in your answer) to see your answer, and I'll link to it. – Gabriel Staples Sep 15 '19 at 5:54

For those who are here because of the error mentioned in my question:

The cause of the error was Anaconda installation. I finally solved the problem as is explained in this answer. To summarise, just comment the lines added by Anaconda to your .bashrc file, follow the instructions for making Nemo as the default, and after completing the instructions uncomment the lines in your .bashrc file.

For those who want to install Nemo in Ubuntu 18.04 without cinnamon dependencies and make it as the default file manager, see this answer.

| improve this answer | |

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