I have been using "commanders" with DOS and Windows for more than 15 years. Needless to say it'd significantly improve my comfort if I could be able to create directories by pressing F7, deleting by F8, copying (to an opposite panel) by F5 and moving by F6. I was very pleased by Nautilus to introduce a 2-panel view, but disappointed by lack of traditional "commander" F-keys scheme. Can I correct this without editing and recompiling Nautilus sources?


Answering a different question, I was reminded of an option that has now been deeply hidden by default, "Editable Menu Accelerators." This can let you do nearly what you want.

To enable this option, launch gconf-editor from the terminal or the "Run Application" dialog (Alt-F2).

Navigate to desktop>gnome>interface and check can_change_accels

Or just run this line in a terminal:

gconftool --set /desktop/gnome/interface/can_change_accels --type=bool True

Now, to change an application shortcut key, open the menu, and with the mouse pointer on the menu item you wish to change, press the new combination of keys. To remove a shortcut key, press Backspace or Delete.

So you can get new directories with F7 and deleting by F8, but I still don't think that you can get the nifty cross pane coping ect in Nautilus.

So while what you're after might not be completely possible with Nautilus, it's also worth mentioning that you can still use a "commander" in Ubuntu.

Check out Midnight Commander if console applications are your style.

sudo apt-get install mc


If you're looking for something that integrates into the desktop, try GNOME Commander. It's a two-pane graphical file manager in the "commander" style, with your familiar hot keys.

sudo apt-get install gnome-commander


  • Very cool hidden treasure that "can_change_accels"! Thanks a lot! Yet unfortunately it does not allow to bind hotkeys to files' pop-up menu (there is a "Copy to" - "Other pane" command available by right-click).
    – Ivan
    Oct 6 '10 at 2:23
  • I use MC a lot, "apt-get install mc" is the first command I issue after installing a new Linux system. But I don't like text-mode stuff much, I prefer it only when it offers a significantly more convenient solution (like simple "apt-get install" instead of digging through menus and windows). I know of Gnome Commander, but it seems too humble and oldish and much less powerful than Midnight Commander and Total Commander (which I have been using for last 10 years.
    – Ivan
    Oct 6 '10 at 2:26

andrewsomething is on the right track. Using the method he describes, you can assign keyboard shortcuts to Edit -> Copy to/Move to -> Other pane. So you'll find that assigning F5 to copying to the other pane is no problem. Assigning F6 is not really recommendable, as this already has a different meaning in GTK+.


Yet another way to define arbitrary hot keys is by using the Nautilus extension API although it is not quite designed for that. As a proof of concept I've developed this extension which defines the following hot keys:

  • F5 to copy selected files/directories to another panel
  • F6 to move selected files/directories to another panel
  • F7 to create a directory in the active panel
  • F8 to delete selected files/directories
  • Ctrl+O to open terminal in the current directory of the active panel (only works for local filesystem)

You can even configure the shortcuts manually in the Keyboad Shortcuts window provided by this extension:

enter image description here

Unlike the can-change-accels solution, this one works fine with global menus.


The best gui "commander" style application I've used in Ubuntu (or any other distro) is krusader. Yes, I am a exclusive Gnome user and krusader is a KDE app, but it is worth it. The first command I run upon installing Ubuntu is:

"sudo apt-get install mc krusader"

Krusader is almost as good as Servant Salamander on windows -- one of the two "shareware" programs I actually purchased in the 30+ years of using computers (I have to use windows at work).

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