Howdy and many thanks in advance for your time.

When first installing Ubuntu (13.04, now running 13.10 on an Acer Aspire One netbook) on this machine many months back I copied a folder from my old machine's (Macbook Pro) hard drive to the desktop. The folder is locked and unreadable. I've left it alone because it doesn't seem to be doing any harm, I don't need the space (though I've no idea how big the file is), and have access to a copied version of the file's contents.

When I try to open it I get "This location could not be displayed. You do not have the permissions necessary to view the contents of 'Documents'."

When trying to delete I first get, "'Documents' can't be put in the trash. Do you want to delete it immediately?" Clicking 'delete' (one of three options along with 'cancel' and 'skip') produces: "Error while deleting. The folder 'Documents' cannot be handled because you do not have the permissions to read it."

I've run gksudo nautilus to try deleting the file or changing permissions that way but the folder cannot be found in a Nautilus window. Nautilus seems to be a normally fine answer for permissions questions so I'm stumped. Presumably login in as root instead of gksudo would not mean Nautilus could find it any better. Any ideas how to delete this folder? Thanks again in advance.

1 Answer 1


It probably doesn't show in Nautilus because you're in the /root, the root user's "home directory" of sorts, and not your own home directory. Use gksudo nautilus /home/$USER/Desktop and you'll see it then.

If not, open up a terminal and type sudo rm -rfv ~/Desktop/Documents. (The command will permanently delete the file; I only advise it because you say you have a sure backup of the data elsewhere and you really don't need that folder/file.)

The problem is that when you copied the file there, the program or command you used was being run as root and therefore the file belongs to root. For more information on the root user, refer to the Community Ubuntu Documentation.

  • Didn't try the former but the latter solved it. Thanks so much! Dec 25, 2013 at 5:53

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .