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I'm having a very hard time trying to fix this error message.

unhandled error message error when getting information for file /home/username/downloads no such file directory.

This is what led up to the problem.

I was working online on some files as normal and my desktop froze. I shut my Desktop down and restarted it but now the Downloads directory has dropped to the lower part of the file manger and when I attempt to open the downloads directory I get the error message above:

unhandled error message error when getting information for file

I have run the command. cat .config/user-dirs.dirs and noticed that the Downloads directory seems to be missing?

XDG_DESKTOP_DIR="$HOME/Desktop"
XDG_DOWNLOAD_DIR="$HOME/"
XDG_TEMPLATES_DIR="$HOME/Templates"
XDG_PUBLICSHARE_DIR="$HOME/Public"
XDG_DOCUMENTS_DIR="$HOME/Documents"
XDG_MUSIC_DIR="$HOME/Music"
XDG_PICTURES_DIR="$HOME/Pictures"
XDG_VIDEOS_DIR="$HOME/Videos"

I would truly appreciate some help as I have some very important files on this system I have yet to backup off site.

  • how about adding one for Downloads in .config/user-dirs.dirs file? – Ron Jun 7 '15 at 17:18
  • Hi Ron, I'm not sure the steps to do that I will research it, but doing it that way, will it still display my files I already have in my Downloads directory or would that be crating a new directory? – fish Jun 7 '15 at 17:20
  • Hi Added the following line. XDG_DOWNLOAD_DIR="$HOME/Downloads" but the error message is still there, the first time I added it and rebooted my desktop it erased it, I'm not sure why? Any other ideas? – fish Jun 7 '15 at 17:42
  • Should I see both these files when search .config directory. user-dirs.dirs and user-dirs.dirs~ . Why two I can open one but not the other. – fish Jun 7 '15 at 18:00
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You should first check that the directory still exists and still contains your data and if it does, save it in an other folder before doing anything. My suggestion for that would be:

  1. Use ls -l ~ and ls -l ~/Downloads
  2. If you don't find it, try using locate Downloads
  3. If you find it and it as the data save it somewhere using cp -r

Once this is done, you can try to correct your configuration problem.


The configuration file user-dirs.dirs is automatically updated by the system at boot so changing it by hand will not help. To change it, you should use xdg-user-dirs (should already be installed otherwise: sudo apt-get install xdg-user-dirs):

  1. By changing the default values in the file: /etc/xdg/user-dirs.defaults
  2. By using the command: xdg-user-dirs-update --set DOWNLOAD $HOME/Downloads

NOTE: user-dirs.dirs~ is just a dummy file created by your editor when you edited the real file. You can change your editors configuration so that it is automatically deleted when you close the editor.

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Step1: Create a new folder that you want to use as your folder.

For example, type mkdir ~/Downloads in a terminal (Ctrl+Alt+T to open one) to create a folder named Desktop in your home directory.

Step2: Edit your configuration.

Edit the file ~/.config/user-dirs.dirs. You can do this by opening a terminal, then enter:

gedit ~/.config/user-dirs.dirs

Change the entry for XDG_DOWNLOADS_DIR to your new Downloads folder, or add it, if the entry does not exist. After your edit, the file should look like this:

XDG_DESKTOP_DIR="$HOME/Desktop"  
XDG_DOWNLOAD_DIR="$HOME/Download"  
XDG_TEMPLATES_DIR="$HOME/Templates"  
XDG_PUBLICSHARE_DIR="$HOME/Public"  
XDG_DOCUMENTS_DIR="$HOME/Documents"  
XDG_MUSIC_DIR="$HOME/Music"  
XDG_PICTURES_DIR="$HOME/Pictures"  
XDG_VIDEOS_DIR="$HOME/Videos"

Log out and then log in again and your desktop should show the specified folder.

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