I would like to set my Nautilus "Default view" to List globally on my PC.

Is this possible, if so, how do I achieve this?

Linked Question (old)

4 Answers 4


First, reset all previous folder view preferences by deleting ~/.local/share/gvfs-metadata (source)

Next, open Nautilus and select Edit -> Preferences -> Views (tab) -> View new folders using , and change to List View:

Nautilus prefs dialogue

  • 3
    Note that the original question asked about Globally changing the view, and the answer here changes it for the active user. I think that's what they meant anyway. Oct 8, 2012 at 13:06
  • 2
    In 12.04 I skipped the deleting metadata part because, seriously, why use gui and also manually do bizarre non-gui things. After that simply clicking away and back to the displayed folder updated it to List View. Feb 20, 2015 at 4:33
  • 2
    I suggest the answer should be updated and "reset all previous folder view preferences" should be removed.
    – blong
    Apr 27, 2015 at 2:11
  • 1
    There is no Edit-Preferences-views in 16.04
    – frepie
    Jul 10, 2016 at 16:29
  • 4
    2016 Gnome. This is outdated.. see last post for dconf editor solution... no command line needed. Sep 15, 2016 at 10:37

For everyone who likes to do things by terminal changing the settings for nautilus can be done by

gsettings set org.gnome.nautilus.preferences default-folder-viewer 'list-view'

If you need to find out which settings are applied to nautilus you can go

gsettings get org.gnome.nautilus.preferences default-folder-viewer

The credits for this post go to: https://scivision.co/ubuntu-setting-nautilus-default-view-to-detailed-list-view/

  • 1
    Excellent answer, works on Ubuntu 16.04 and is a much faster alternative to the accepted answ.
    – Denialos
    Jan 24, 2018 at 17:26

Other possible way of solving this is through dconf Editor, see org.gnome.nautilus.preferences and default-folder-viewer there.

prefs picture

This means there would be a simple one-line expression to change this, so you can include it easily to your config/setup scripts. See more on dconf.

  • Thanks! This is the way it should be done.. I do not know why gnome does not have a menu to do this. However, it was easy.. Goes to show why people do not use ubuntu! :) Sep 15, 2016 at 9:34
  • This method worked for Nautilus 3.20 on Ubuntu 17.04, whereas the preceding methods did not.
    – user118684
    May 3, 2018 at 13:16

For Gnome 2, the following should be enough:

sudo gconftool-2 --direct --config-source xml:readwrite:/etc/gconf/gconf.xml.defaults --type string --set /apps/nautilus/preferences/default_folder_viewer list_view

Other possible values are icon_view and compact_view

For Ubuntu 12.04 and similar Unity-based UI, edit /usr/share/glib-2.0/schemas/org.gnome.nautilus.gschema.xml file: find the default-folder-viewer key and replace its <default> tag value by 'list-view'

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