I would like to be able to navigate the main file manager window as well as the Nautilus (3.10.1) side pane using just the keyboard (arrow keys etc.).

How do I switch between being able to navigate in the side pane and in the main window using the keyboard? That is, how do I switch between the area where the arrow keys are currently active for navigation?

For example, in the below picture how do I switch between being able to navigate "Places" (Home, Desktop etc.) and the directories (Documents, Downloads etc.)?

enter image description here

2 Answers 2


You can toggle between navigating the side pane and the main window (using the arrow keys) by pressing the F6 key. So,

F6 and then any arrow keys : Navigate main window.

F6 and then up/down : Navigate side pane.

  • 2
    That allows me to move the "focus" in the bookmark bar, but when I press <kbd>Enter<\kbd> to confirm, it still opens the highlighted file in the main window. How does one open the bookmark? Commented May 20, 2020 at 17:22
  • 2
    Found the answer. The Space key does it. Commented May 20, 2020 at 17:35
  • 2
    @PetrDoležal The Space side pane select shortcut doesn't appear to work in Gnome 42. Ctrl + Space opens a new window.
    – user598527
    Commented May 31, 2022 at 7:00
  • Files 42.2 : F6 + focus on the side pane : SPACE : nop CTRL+SPACE, opens a new window within the location, CTRL+SHIFT+SPACE, does not open a new window and replaces the current one. I would like to know where is is officialy documented! Commented Apr 6, 2023 at 8:12
  • @RudyVissers that should be an answer!
    – Joe
    Commented Sep 12, 2023 at 8:59

For new comer's reference who is using GNOME nautilus 45.2.1 and on linux:

  1. f9 to focus on sidebar.
  2. use Tab or Shift-Tab to navigate between items.

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