I've seen this question:

How to set visible columns default for the 'Files' file manager?

and would like to ask how to do it now in Ubuntu 21.10 (Files 40.2) because the Preferences dialog no longer has the tabs that previous versions had; i.e. now that the set of columns to use as default is no longer shown as a tab in Preferences, how can we set the default?

3 Answers 3


The option to set the default view unfortunately is not anymore exposed in the user interface starting with Files 40. It can however be set directly in the dconf database via the GSettings configuration tool on a terminal.

  • To get the currently configured default list view columns, run

    gsettings get org.gnome.nautilus.list-view default-visible-columns
  • The set of all available column names can be retrieved from another setting:

    gsettings get org.gnome.nautilus.list-view default-column-order
  • Knowing available column names, you can then define your custom default list view columns. To set them to ['name', 'size', 'date_modified'] for example, run:

    gsettings set org.gnome.nautilus.list-view default-visible-columns "['name', 'size', 'date_modified']"

Custom settings are remembered per folder using the gvfs-metadata system. You therefore eventually need to manually adjust any folder that you have set differently from the defaults. However, there is a way to reset gvfs-metadata:

nautilus -q
systemctl --user stop gvfs-metadata.service
rm ~/.local/share/gvfs-metadata/home*

This stops nautilus, the gvfs-metadata service, and then selected metadata that gets updated when you change the column view is deleted.

When you restart nautilus, the service will also be restarted. Now, any of the folders on your file system should adopt the default settings you defined before.

  • Sorry, it still doesn't seem to remember it as default - it only remembers it for the current folder, at least on my machine. Try this: (1) start nautilus (Files) straight after logging in. (2) Set up your favourite columns. (3) Exit nautilus. (4) Restart nautilus. (5) Click on a folder icon to go to another folder. Now, after step 5, I see that the columns are no longer what I chose at step 2.
    – k314159
    Nov 4, 2021 at 21:58
  • 1
    OK, I see. I had to overhaul my answer. It becomes technical, but it should work and you need to do it only once.
    – vanadium
    Nov 5, 2021 at 7:56
  • doesn't seem to work for v42.2 in Ubuntu 22.04.1 LTS. the selection of columns is set and loads, but the order of them is mixed. btw those 3 lines about gvfs-metadata service are not necessary - just close& re-open Nautilus/Files. and: gsettings set org.gnome.nautilus.list-view default-column-order "[ <your columns> ]" did set the order. Dec 14, 2022 at 23:06

You can set the defaults using the command line:

$ gsettings get org.gnome.nautilus.list-view default-visible-columns
$ gsettings get org.gnome.nautilus.list-view default-column-order

Check the current values, then change them using

$ gsettings set org.gnome.nautilus.list-view default-visible-columns [new values]
$ gsettings set org.gnome.nautilus.list-view default-column-order [new values]
  • works for me on v42.2 in Ubuntu 22.04.1 LTS. thanks! Dec 14, 2022 at 23:07

The answers here didn't work for me on Ubuntu 20.10:

$ gsettings set org.gnome.nautilus.list-view default-visible-columns ['size', 'date_modified', 'name', 'type']
  gsettings [--schemadir SCHEMADIR] set SCHEMA[:PATH] KEY VALUE

Set the value of KEY to VALUE

  SCHEMADIR A directory to search for additional schemas
  SCHEMA    The name of the schema
  PATH      The path, for relocatable schemas
  KEY       The key within the schema
  VALUE     The value to set

However, if I added quotation marks around the options, it works:

$ gsettings set org.gnome.nautilus.list-view default-visible-columns "['size', 'date_modified_with_time', 'name', 'type']"
$ gsettings get org.gnome.nautilus.list-view default-visible-columns
['size', 'date_modified_with_time', 'name', 'type']
  • Thanks, I can confirm this. I've updated the original answer accordingly (must be approved first to be visible).
    – Salim B
    May 24, 2022 at 23:01

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