I am using Ubuntu 13.04 since today and I am missing the split screen function in Nautilus. Is there any way to patch Nautilus so that this amazing function is usable again?

  • 2
    This functionality was removed upstream in GNOME. Just open two windows.
    – hnasarat
    Apr 25, 2013 at 22:19
  • 11
    argh! do you have a link why it was removed? Its very useful! Apr 25, 2013 at 23:08
  • 6
    You can install Nemo, which is a fork of Nautilus. And yes, he does have the split screen function.
    – Removed
    Apr 25, 2013 at 23:55
  • 1
    @lokutus25 Alas, tabs can't replace F3. These two features were complementary. Nevertheless, here is the answer, that might give us some clue — askubuntu.com/a/251839/33408
    – idle sign
    Apr 27, 2013 at 2:51
  • 2
    The rationale behind removing the feature is: Extra Pane mode was somewhat useful before GNOME 3 had side by side window mode. The combination of panes and tabs is just too much. It is inconsistent with the file chooser and doesn't work well with touch. We would like to add a more explicit copy/move feature shortly. - Source
    – green
    Apr 29, 2013 at 16:15

8 Answers 8


Among other features that were unfortunately removed in Nautilus 3.6 (used by Ubuntu 13.04 by default) was the extra pane/split screen, invoked using F3. It was removed because the GNOME developers thought it didn't work well on touch screens and that placing one Nautilus to one side of the screen with another to the opposite side fulfilled the same purpose. It doesn't, but I'm not a developer! Links to the bug and the commit.

One way to get the feature back is to install a patched version of the older Nautilus 3.4. The easiest way to do so is to add a PPA managed by the good people at webupd8.org. Unfortunately this patch version is only available for Ubuntu 12.04 and the now-unsupported 12.10 and 13.04 releases.

Run these commands in a terminal:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:webupd8team/experiments
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
killall nautilus

N.B.: The instructions contain a warning, namely that if the dist-upgrade command attempts to remove packages, there is a problem and you should not continue. Otherwise things should be fine.

For Ubuntu 14.04 you'll need to patch Nautilus manually. This answer can get you started, but unfortunately I can't find what to patch exactly.

The simplest option is to change file managers. Nemo is quite similar to what Nautilus used to be. Yet Another User mentions below that it is in the repositories, but this webupd8.org PPA will install the newest version:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:webupd8team/nemo
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install nemo nemo-fileroller
  • 2
    Bleh. "Everything in existence is a tablet; if your device isn't, tough luck." Thanks for the way to re-add older Nautilus. May 18, 2013 at 14:10
  • heh.. 'sudo apt-get install mate-core mate-desktop-environment mate-notification-daemon' should help
    – ses
    May 20, 2014 at 0:43
  • 3
    No need to add the extra repo. A simple: 'sudo apt-get install nemo' does it, now (14.04.1) without the "ton of dependencies." Works pretty well, just needs separate address bars in split-pane mode (+ few minor tweaks). After writing a good file comparison script for Nautilus, it kills me they've defaced this formerly awesome app.
    – u2n
    Aug 18, 2014 at 15:11
  • @u2n - Yes, thanks, you are right; that seems to have changed with 14.04. Though that PPA will get you a newer version.
    – Fern Moss
    Aug 20, 2014 at 1:05
  • 3
    " ... fulfilled the same purpose", yes but it takes 938x more time.. Why is Ubuntu making such an effort to remove all the great features of itself?
    – jeff
    Feb 24, 2015 at 14:57

There are two workarounds I've found to approximate this feature.

  • Using the tiling features in Unity:

    • Open Nautilus.
    • Hit Super-Ctrl-Left Arrow to tile the window to the left edge of the screen.
    • Hit Ctrl-N to open a new window and navigate to the target directory.
    • Hit Super-Ctrl-Right Arrow to tile the window to the right edge of the screen.
    • Drag and drop your files back and forth.
  • You can also select the folder you want to "split" into and do a Ctrl-T to open a new tab. Then either drop files into the tab or tear off the tab into a new window.

  • Any way to automate this? Autokey?
    – takeshin
    Apr 27, 2013 at 6:28
  • 12
    That's not very convenient.
    – thonixx
    May 3, 2013 at 23:42
  • 1
    you can also just drag the titlebar of the window to the left or right edge of the screen, it tiles perfectly to the half of the screen.
    – balki
    May 4, 2013 at 5:34
  • Problem for me is windows are not linked so [Alt]+[Tab] does not display both windows. Best work-around though yet. Jun 3, 2013 at 8:14
  • 1
    Thanks for teaching me those new tiling shortcuts. As a keyboard-focused guy, convenient enough for me. I suppose they'll take those away next (not tablet compatible). ;)
    – Lambart
    Sep 27, 2013 at 19:19

To restore all of the features that they "rem(impr)oved" in nautilus 3.6, the simplest way is to install Nemo, which was forked by the Mint developers because of the removed features. Because it's included in ubuntu 13.04, you don't need to add any extra apt repository. Just sudo apt-get install nemo is enough. It uses the same icon we used to see for nautilus 3.4.


I think that The Gnome Developers are not in correct path. I use Nautilus in PC, no in a tablet!

My workaround: I installed "SunFlower File Manager" :


The version of Nautilus that came with Ubuntu 12.10 had the split screen. So you can consider to downgrade Nautilus to that older version.

You will need Synaptic Package Manager. If you don't have it, because normally it comes not with a default Ubuntu installation, you can download it from the Ubuntu Software Center.

But there's a little problem. If you've only one version of a package, you can't force another version. So, if you're in Ubuntu 13.04 (raring) you need to add the software repository from Ubunt 12.10 (quantal).

The easiest way to add that repository is with the Software & Upgrades Programs. In that program you choose the tab 'Other Software' and 'Add'. In the popup screen you add on the APT line:

deb http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu quantal main

and save. Now you have to open Synaptic Package Manager and hit the Reload button.

Select the Nautilus Package, and hit Ctrl-E or in the menu select Package - Force version. Then select the version of Nautilus that came with Ubuntu 12.10 You will see other packages that have to be downgraded.

To keep that downgraded version, so it's not updated anymore, you have to lock it. So in the menu choose Package - Lock Version.

To start Nautilus in its downgraded version, you have to logout, and to login.

That's all!

I used information that I found originally on this page.


Googling around I found a couple of interesting links:

a patch to bring back some nautilus features. (This this patch is only intended for use with Ubuntu 12.04 and Nautilus 3.4.2)

Some discussion about it at Ubuntu

a fork from mint guys

a list of missing features (and a poll)

So it seems that the nautilus affaire has been discussed in lenght, I wonder what decision the Ubuntu dev team finnally made...


There's been a nice article at webupd8 with a tutorial how.

Long story short: Install the (SolusOS) patched Nautilus 3.4

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:webupd8team/experiments
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
killall nautilus

The quickest workaround approximation I have found in 13.04 is a two step process:

1) drag title bar of open nautilus window to an edge of the screen (left or right)

2) hit Ctrl + N

The default behaviour of the New window is to open in the remaining space.

Still twice as many steps as F3 but tolerable if you don't want to go through a downgrade or patch.

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