A while back, I set my default file manager to Nemo. I like it a lot, but it constantly crashes. I remember editing a text file to set it as default, but I forgot which file it was. How do I switch back to the Nautilus file manager?


This did it for me, after I google for a while:

xdg-mime default nautilus.desktop inode/directory application/x-gnome-saved-search

I also typed:

gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.background show-desktop-icons true
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  • After that my Linux Mint failed to log in with X-session error g_key_file_free: assertion 'key_file != NULL' failed. To recover use Ctrl-Alt-F1 & sudo apt-get cinnamon and sudo reboot – Zon Jul 18 '18 at 4:26
  • The xdg-mime command worked for me in Ubuntu 16.04. I replaced nautilus.desktop with pcmanfm.desktop since I wanted to use that as my default file manager. You can find the name of the file manager you want to use by using the following command ls /usr/share/applications and finding its corresponding .desktop file. – OwN Jun 19 '19 at 3:08
  • 5/5/20, it works on Ubuntu 19.10 – Anh-Thi DINH May 5 at 7:36

I spent AGES trying to find a method that would work. Eventually I found this advice, which is incredibly easy, and worked for me:

Install exo-utils (this package contains the Xfce settings plugin and the utility files for libexo-2-0). Open a terminal and type:

sudo apt install exo-utils

Then run:


then switch to Utilities tab and select File Manager you prefer.

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  • It'll only work in Xubuntu or systems that have exo-utils installed – Anwar Apr 7 '17 at 12:26
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    Is there any reason not to install exo-utils? (I use Ubuntu 16.04 and this method of changing the File Manager back to Nautilus, from Nemo, was the only method that worked, out of several I tried.) – user282186 Apr 8 '17 at 12:42
  • Worked well for krusader after I installed it – loxaxs May 15 '17 at 9:37
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    This is the only way I could make xdg-open open directories with nautilus in Debian, thanks. – jojman May 24 '17 at 5:40
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    Worked great for me at Ubuntu 18.04.1 LTS! – ChrisG Sep 13 '18 at 13:55

The file manager choice is handled by a file in ~/.local/share/applications. They are mimeapps.list and mimeinfo.cache, deleting both of those files will reset your file manager to the default, which is Nautilus.

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    I'm afraid that solution didn't work. – nick Jan 4 '13 at 14:12
  1. sudo mv /usr/bin/nemo /usr/bin/nemo.backup
  2. Open any folder. You could use xdg-open /path/to/folder/ while in the command line, for example. Or you could use a X application that requests a file.
  3. A dialog should appear to you requesting a default application to be your file manager. Type /usr/bin/nautilus there and confirm.

After that, as long as you don't rename nemo to its original name/location, nautilus will be your default file manager again.

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