Ubuntu 16.04 I have 2 instances of Nautilus (file explorer) open - in different drives and or folders.

I want to create a LINK to a file. It doesn't appear to be easily done - if I drag & drop the file it makes a copy. If I right-click the file the menu does have a 'Make Link', but it makes the link in the folder the file already is in (why would I want that?) - and I have to then drag the link to the place I want, which makes a copy of the link, and then I have to delete the link made in the place I don't want. Seems like very inefficient way. So, I'm probably missing something....?

  • Maybe press Alt while dragging? – muru Aug 1 '17 at 1:24
  • @WinEunuuchs2Unix not sarcasm. In Nemo, different things happen when you do a simple drag (move if in same partition), vs drag with Ctrl (copy), vs drag with Alt (link), etc. I don't remember if it works that way in Nautilus. – muru Aug 1 '17 at 2:00
  • @muru I just tested OP's question, and simply dragging the created link (with left click) from one Nautilus Window to another Nautilus Window of a different folder moves it rather than copies it. ie No deletion of original link is required as OP asserts. So now I'm just confused and will go find some CLI project to do... – WinEunuuchs2Unix Aug 1 '17 at 2:11
  • @muru I'm using Nemo 2.8.7, and pressing Alt while dragging brings up the same menu that SunnyDaze has pictured in his answer, and drag with Ctrl doesn't seem to do anything. What version of Nemo are you running? – wjandrea Aug 1 '17 at 3:38
  • @wjandrea huh, looks like I mixed up the behaviour with Windows Explorer, which is where I usually have to use the GUI from dragging – muru Aug 1 '17 at 4:06

1. If your Mouse Has a Center Button

You just Center-Click and drag the file to where you want it to go, and when you release the center-button/wheel, a menu will pop up asking you if you want to Move, Copy, or Link the file.

Choose Link, of course.

2. If Your Mouse DOESN'T Have a Center Button

You Left-Click and drag the file to where you want it to go, but right before you release the left-button, hold down the Alt key, then release the left-button, and a menu will pop up asking you if you want to Move, Copy, or Link the file.

Choose Link, of course.

Here's a picture of what the menu looks like.

enter image description here

  • My mice don't have center clicks. All the scroll wheel does is... well scroll. – WinEunuuchs2Unix Aug 1 '17 at 1:55
  • Oh darn. Life in Linux is so much easier with a 10-button mouse. The first 7 buttons have great default values, and then I use CCSM to set up the buttons 8 and 10 (thumb buttons) to initiate my desktop picker, and to initiate my windows picker. These CCSM features are just a few of the little things that makes the Linux desktop much more efficient than a typical Windows experience. – SunnyDaze Aug 1 '17 at 2:36
  • There, I figured it out for you. I added the "No Center Button" answer. Please select this answer as the solution if you like it. – SunnyDaze Aug 1 '17 at 2:45
  • I think my mouse has 9 buttons, it's a Logitech Pro MX: logitech.com/en-ca/product/performance-mouse-mx I spend more time tinkering in bash though than in mouse tinkering. I think your emulating center button will be valuable for the mainstream though. – WinEunuuchs2Unix Aug 1 '17 at 3:01
  • 1
    @WinEunuuchs2Unix The Pro MX has a middle click... – wjandrea Aug 1 '17 at 3:35

Yet another way to make a link: press Ctrl+Shift while dragging some file/folder.


  • Ctrl performs copy or move (that depends on location of source and destination: within the same partition object is moved, otherwise it is copied);
  • Ctrl+Shift makes a link;
  • Alt gives user a choice to select manually.

Also my cursor changes shape when I drag with Ctrl (shows "plus" sign) and with Ctrl+Shift (shows 2 linked rings). Dunno whether this happens with standard cursor theme.


After you click "Make link":

  1. Click the link and press Ctrl+X
    • or right-click the link and click "Cut"
  2. Move to the folder you want
  3. Press Ctrl+V
    • or right-click in blank space and click "Paste"

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