In Nautilus if I press CTRL+F inside a folder I get a search box that helps me search in the current directory and sub directories for specific names and types of files, but what if I want to:

  • Find ALL files (including files without extensions)
  • Find a file without an extension (Without the dot symbol or without any other name/extension separator)
  • Find a file with/without a special character
  • Find all files that start/not start with a character
  • Find all files that end/not end with a character
  • Find all files that start/no start with a character but end/not end with a character
  • Find only files/folders
  • Find files with specific text in them
  • Find files with less/more/equal than/to X size
  • Find files modified/created in X date

I ask since the KDE's search has all of this ways of searching for especific types of files and is much better in thism giving a pretty good freedom for when I want to go searching for virtually anything.

  • You cannot search contents of files using Nautilus or anything other than the command line. Because I use Google Drive and Insync, I simply go to Drive in Chrome when I want to search contents, the problem being that Drive does not allow for searches within specific folders. You can't win, but the latter method is usually okay for me, even with 90k-plus files to search.
    – user84339
    Oct 28, 2015 at 23:06
  • I am waiting for regular expressions in nautilus since years. I don't think it will ever happen.
    – Soerendip
    Jul 7, 2020 at 21:33

7 Answers 7


Sounds like a job for gnome-search-tool.

gnome-search-tool example

It can perform partial matches on the file name and search on more options:

  • File content
  • Modification date
  • Size
  • File emptiness
  • Owner/Group
  • Name pattern exclusion
  • Name regular expression match
  • Hidden and backup files

It can also:

  • Follow symbolic links
  • Exclude other filesystems

You can define a a location to search. In my example I have two .gpl files in that directory but only one containing the word Server.

  • 4
    I know about this one, am asking for the Nautilus specific one. Nov 22, 2011 at 20:49

How to you use wildcards, especially the * (star) in Linux Ubuntu Nautilus GUI File Search?

I also was just struggling with this issue, but I think I found an answer.

Here are the equivalent Windows and Nautilus search patterns:

Windows: diagram*.ppt

Nautilus: diagram ppt

Basically, try using a spacebar character in Nautilus where you would use a * character normally. I think I FINALLY figured this out, after years of trying... sigh.

  • 3
    Helped me a lot. This is simplest answer. Why was it down voted? Sep 13, 2016 at 12:50
  • also help-me a lot, actually this should be accepted answer Mar 4, 2019 at 13:16

When you're performing a normal search with Nautilus, it will search within the current folder and all subfolder for files with the search pattern in their names. You can limit the type of files you want by clicking on the '+' button once the search is started and adding a rule on the file type.

That's pretty much all you can do, I think. For advanced search, advanced users use the command line program find and other users don't have any solutions.

  • A bit disappointed with Nautilus. This option is quite equivalent to search by extension. That is, if you change the extension of a .pdf file to .txt, Nautilus will find it as text file, while the content is .pdf :-\ Jun 17, 2020 at 13:21

I am going to address the "first, actual, question". after extensive search and irssi, circa sep 2013, the answer appears to be;

No, Not possible - that the Nautilus ctrl-F search cannot find ALL files (including files without extensions).

Please understand I am truly not seeking to be negative, in fact i believe by actually addressing the problem this may actually get this fixed.

Giving the advice that the user should instead use a different program (gnome-search-tool), or do something else instead of what was wanted (for files with the (a more constrained) search pattern in their names) is ambiguous and ultimately unhelpful.

it is either a simple, no this is not possible. or yes, followed by the method to achieve the aim. further advice, if present, should follow an answer to the actual question.

  • 3
    This is a comment, isn't it?
    – Manuel
    Sep 10, 2013 at 9:55
  • @Manuel, "No, Not possible" is the answer, from the second sentence.
    – Self Dot
    Mar 22 at 18:53

I wanted to add, apart from the answers provided and extending on the answer by Octavian, a simple way of enhancing the search option is by activating type-ahead. With the following terminal line we can make the search more intuitive:

gsettings set org.gnome.nautilus.preferences enable-interactive-search false

I discovered just by chance that, unlike what is stated in another answer, and despite what is not documented in Help (!!!), a space character in the search string does does not act as a wildcard but as an AND condition.

Example: "screen .png -4" will find filenames that contains all of the 3 "sceen", ".png" and "-4" strings.

I'm highly surprised that the Helps are (generally) so imprecise and that no Nautilus search special strings are used, and inserted by the "+" icon, to add special search conditions such as the much needed "not in subfolders" option.


The best advice I can give you is:

  • Use Nemo (looks like Nautilus, works like Nautilus, but crashes less often)
  • Use Krusader (very powerful two-panel commander, a bit heavy for daily use)
  • Use Total Commander on Wine (most powerful search ever, very lightweight, but lacks double-click file launch as you'd expect. Trial version works indefinitely) Wine programs can launch files in native Linux apps using C:\windows\system32\winebrowser.exe -nohome "%1"

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