As of today I'm facing this behavior in Ubuntu 16.04 Nautilus:

I create a new file/folder by right clicking in Nautilus "New Folder". When I focus the folder name to edit it, the focus gets lost and I can't edit the name.

Nautilus looks like this while typing the name of the folder: enter image description here

In addition, when I try to hit Del while trying to edit the name, the file/folder gets deleted. If I hit Backspace, Nautilus navigates back to the parent folder.

I validated no key is stuck and rebooted Ubuntu. Nothing did fix it.

Update: When switching Nautilus to grid view, everything works fine.
Update 2: I also tried

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install --reinstall ubuntu-desktop
sudo apt-get install unity

Update 3: I disabled Auto-Raise using ccsm: enter image description here

I also disabled Raise-Windows keyboard and mouse bindings: enter image description here

Update 4:

Output of dpkg -l nautilus*:

| Status=Not/Inst/Conf-files/Unpacked/halF-conf/Half-inst/trig-aWait/Trig-pend
|/ Err?=(none)/Reinst-required (Status,Err: uppercase=bad)
||/ Name                                                                                   Version                                          Architecture                                     Description
ii  nautilus                                                                               1:3.18.4.is.3.14.3-0ubuntu5                      amd64                                            file manager and graphical shell for GNOME
ii  nautilus-data                                                                          1:3.18.4.is.3.14.3-0ubuntu5                      all                                              data files for nautilus
un  nautilus-dropbox                                                                       <none>                                           <none>                                           (no description available)
un  nautilus-open-terminal                                                                 <none>                                           <none>                                           (no description available)
ii  nautilus-sendto                                                                        3.8.2-1ubuntu1                                   amd64                                            integrates Evolution and Pidgin into the Nautilus file manager
un  nautilus-sendto-empathy                                                                <none>                                           <none>                                           (no description available)
ii  nautilus-share                                                                         0.7.3-2ubuntu1                                   amd64                                            Nautilus extension to share folder using Samba
  • What happens if you select the folder in nautilus and press F2? Does that put the folder name in edit mode? – b_laoshi Apr 21 '17 at 5:25
  • Yes it gets in edit mode and as soon as I hit a key it exits edit mode. – Alexander Zeitler Apr 21 '17 at 8:45
  • I've never seen that one before. Have you tried purging (sudo apt-get remove --purge nautilus) and reinstalling (sudo apt-get install --reinstall nautilus)? – b_laoshi Apr 21 '17 at 8:52
  • 2
    Purge / reintall didn't fix it. – Alexander Zeitler Apr 22 '17 at 11:46
  • Seems at least one other person did face this as well also his fix didn't work for me: bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/nautilus/+bug/1574614 – Alexander Zeitler Apr 22 '17 at 14:40

It seems like this may be a bug in Nautilus, you may need to use the terminal to rename files for the time being until this bug gets fixed. This also could be a file permission issue.

Open up a terminal window and type in the following command to view the folder permissions:

cd temp && ll

Once you have done this, type in the following command (keep in mind you will need super user privileges for this, and NewFolderName would be the new name of the folder):

sudo mv "./Untitled Folder" "./NewFolderName"

Of course, if you do not feel comfortable with using the command line every time you want to rename files or folders, perhaps you could try a different file manager like Thunar.

To install Thunar, open up a terminal window and type in the following command:

sudo apt install thunar


I believe you are suffering from a side effect of having Focus follows mouse turned on. When you choose rename from the drop down menu, the menu disappears leaving the pointer over empty space in the window which then takes focus away from the folder name and the unwanted results are exactly as described in Steves answer.

To resolve this problem, use Compiz Config Settings Manager. If you don't have it you can install it as follows:

1) Enable the Universe Repository.

2) Install Compiz Config Settings Manager either from the software center or via the terminal with sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager

One installed, run it and click OK regarding the caution.

Choose General, then General options.

Choose the Focus and Raise behavior tab and match the settings as shown below:


Note that Auto-Raise is unchecked. You should likely also look at the next tab over key bindings and insure that the Raise Window bindings for keyboard and mouse are disabled or at least set in a manner that you aren't inadvertently triggering them.

To accomplish the same result with Unity Tweak Tool change your settings to match as shown below:

Note that auto raise is off.


Edit: If all else fails, as a workaround try nemo (a fork of nautilus) that has worked for me when nautilus was acting up.

If anything about this answer is unclear, please drop me a comment and I'll do my best to clarify.

  • That's what I'm trying to do: create new folder -> start typing. I'm creating new folders via CTRL+Shift+N instead of using the Nautilus menus. Renaming happens by hitting F2 and causes the same effect. – Alexander Zeitler May 1 '17 at 20:52
  • Can you confirm that you have Focus follows mouse turned off? – Elder Geek May 1 '17 at 20:55
  • Yes, it is set to "click" – Alexander Zeitler May 1 '17 at 20:58
  • Where would I look to see this "click" setting you refer to? – Elder Geek May 1 '17 at 21:00
  • 1
    I installed nemo and this solves the problem. I tried to make nemo the default manager but when e.g. saving in Chrome, it still uses the Nautilus dialog. – Alexander Zeitler May 2 '17 at 10:43

It's simply a behavioural issue, nothing is going wrong here, let me explain

The folder has been created with a default name, you use the F2 key to change the name You don't change file/folder names in Nautilus by clicking on the text of the item, you must press F2

If you begin to enter text in Nautilus like this you will simply be running a search in the folder that is open for something beginning in said text, here you have searched for the term test, if there is more then one item that begins with the word test you use the cursor keys to navigate your selection

If you find yourself uncomfortable with the GNOME shell, you may want to consider using KDE, or Kubuntu, you may even want to install KDE alongside your GNOME Unity shell, "sudo apt-get install kubuntu-full" in your terminal will do this for you, feel free to explore some of the smaller desktop environments, some will give you a real performance boost if you are trying to be minimalistic, but that goes out of the scope of this question...... Explore!

If you are loosing focus, there maybe something wrong with your keyboard setup or another application may be stealing it, shift keys come in handy when you are in rename mode

Forgive me if I lost focus on the topic here


In terminal, run

$ cd
$ ls -la
$ cd temp
$ ls -la

You should see why the gui is not working. I suspect your file permissions are different than you think.

  • If he just created the folder from within nautilus, how could the permissions be set such that he would not be able to rename the folder he just created? – b_laoshi Apr 21 '17 at 5:23
  • 1
    Something funny is going on, better to get the facts than assume reinstalling the gui program will help. We dont know what "temp" is, where it came from. It might be a symlink to a weird directory. If you suspect the gui is bad, I would install another file manager (Thunar, Dolphin, etc) to see if they also have quirk. But I rather have info on temp and content within. – pauljohn32 Apr 21 '17 at 9:25

I fixed this:) Just turn off the Viewport Switcher in CompizConfig->Desktop->Viewport Switcher

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