I use symbolic links to tidy my home folder. This works well in the terminal, since the links create the illusion of normal folders:

Symbolic link in GNOME Terminal - Ubuntu 13.04

In Nautilus, however, the links behave more like Windows shortcuts, immediately teleporting me to their target:

Symbolic link in Nautilus - Ubuntu 13.04

This is particularly troubling when¹ I later want to navigate "up" to the parent folder, as it strands me somewhere outside of the tree I've carefully tidied.

How can I make Nautilus show symbolic links as normal folders, like the terminal does?


  • Nautilus did not dereference symlinks in Ubuntu 12.10:

    Symbolic link in Nautilus and GNOME Terminal - Ubuntu 12.10

  • Maybe this new behavior is just a bug? I'm not sure how to tell. Here's what I know:

  • ¹ This is an example. A workaround for this particular scenario does not constitute an answer to my question. Since people seem to be interested in discussing it, though:
    • Using the Back button is not a suitable workaround; it does not always take me to the parent folder.
    • You can navigate up by pressing Alt+Up.
    • The desired behavior in this example is for "up" to navigate to the parent folder of the symbolic link. The current behavior is to navigate to the parent folder of the target of the symbolic link.
  • 2
    @Victor The Back button works as expected, navigating to the previous location. There doesn't seem to be an Up button (not sure if/when it was removed), but pressing Alt+Up should take you to the parent folder.
    – ændrük
    Apr 12, 2013 at 17:27
  • 3
    @Victor Which parent folder does it take you to? The parent of the symlink, or the parent of the symlink's target? In an ideal solution to my question, it would take you to the parent of the symlink.
    – ændrük
    Apr 12, 2013 at 17:59
  • 4
    To me, this is a real troubling BUG! I hate this behavior, have lots of symlinks from home partition which is a SSD to my HDD. When this change came unexpectedly, it struck me by surprise. When I click around in my personal home folder, all the time my breadcrumb bar is kind of broken, I cannot get back by going up! PLEASE. Change this back or make this an option I can switch on or off!!
    – Zordid
    Jun 4, 2013 at 18:22
  • 2
    This bug is still present in 3.8.2; very annoying.
    – alfC
    Jul 8, 2013 at 1:12
  • 3
    Upstream bug report: bugzilla.gnome.org/show_bug.cgi?id=702301 Sep 15, 2013 at 16:55

2 Answers 2


This one is a workaround, but may not constitute the actual answer you're trying to find:

On nautilus, Ctrl+L, type in the symlink name (e.g. link or ./link), Enter. It will not dereference the symlink this time.


UPDATE: this TERRIBLE BUG apparently is now fixed in Nautilus 3.14.2, what follows is a workaround for older versions

I found this workaround:

  1. Install Nautilus-Actions Configuration Tool

  2. Run nautilus-actions

  3. Add an action called "Open Link"

  4. In the "Command" Tab -> Path: /usr/bin/nautilus, Parameters: --no-default-window %u (optional) Menu Edit->Preferences->uncheck "Create a root 'Nautilus-action' menu, uncheck "Add an 'About' ..."

  5. Restart Nautilus (e.g. xkill)

  6. Right click any symlink folder, a new Nautilus window will open with the folder (not the dereferenced folder).

Limitations still: a) Nautilus now has to context menus "Open" and "Open Link" (you have to remember to use the right one), b) a new window opens each time.

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