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I've just upgraded to Ubuntu 17.10 and have noticed that Nautilus (I'm aware they dropped it years ago, I meant that Ubuntu patched it back in before) dropped type-ahead. It now instead opens the search which is way slower for me and searches instead of selecting the matching file. It's very hard to use it for me because of this.

Is there a way to bring it back, downgrade Nautilus, or is there an alternative?

  • Just a comment... I too realize they changed the name "Nautilus" to "Files". However after taking many months to spell "Nautilus" accurately I regret their decision. Also because "files" is such a generic brand name I regret that choice for a file manager. – WinEunuuchs2Unix Feb 5 '18 at 2:39
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    Does this answer your question? Traditional search-as-you-type on newer Nautilus versions – Kulfy Jan 4 at 17:47
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As pointed out here, type-ahead find has been removed in favour of full text search.

However, it is possible to make full text search behave more like type-ahead find. Simply open the Nautilus Preferences, click the Search and Preview tab, and make the following adjustments under the "Search" heading:

  1. Search in subfolders: Never
  2. Full text search: do not set as default

Now typing letters in Nautilus will only search files by their names, not by their contents, and only for files in the current directory, not subdirectories. Unfortunately, this also affects the results you see when you do a Ctrl+F search.


I would just like to add my voice to the many who think that disabling type-ahead find was a mistake, and the fact that it is not even available as an optional feature is an incomprehensibly poor decision on the part of the Nautilus developers, especially given that full text search was always available via Ctrl+F for those that wanted it. I hope Ubuntu switch back to using a patched version of Nautilus for 18.04.

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    Your opinion regarding this matter is spot on. I sincerely hope the developers of Ubuntu and (more importantly) Nautilus finds it. I've opened an issue over at the Nautilus project, but honestly the maintainers seem somewhat inconvincible. – gromit190 Feb 12 '18 at 13:32
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    I think HullCityFan852's comment express exactly my opinion on this matter. – Fabio Malagoli Panico Oct 4 '18 at 13:43
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As others have said, type-ahead find seems to have been irrevocably removed from nautilus, however there are many alternative file managers with a very similar look & feel (and sharing marine theme) available in the standard repositories, all of whom come with type-ahead find by default:

  • nemo - A fork of nautilus 3.4, brings back type-ahead find and F3 split view, and probably some other removed features I didn't even know existed.
  • caja - A fork of nautilus 2.6
  • thunar - The xfce default file manager, my personal favorite because it is noticably faster than the alternatives even on my high-powered work laptop
  • dolphin - Familiar to anyone who used KDE
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  • +1 to nemo, feels the same and usable. Big thanks to devs – Prakash Rajagaopal Feb 2 '18 at 5:47
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Ubuntu 18.04 and newer

Inspired by @SFG I took a look at Ubuntu's PPA submission process. The good people around Arch linux maintain a patch that keeps the type-to-seek functionality in; and you can find Nautilus packages with the Arch patch applied here: https://launchpad.net/~lubomir-brindza/+archive/ubuntu/nautilus-typeahead and install it by running:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:lubomir-brindza/nautilus-typeahead
sudo apt upgrade

I don't actually have a system running 17.10 however, so I'm unsure whether these builds will work properly on artful.

(cross-post from Traditional search-as-you-type on newer Nautilus versions)

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If you really want to have this functionality in Nautilus 3.26 (which is right now the current version in Ubuntu 17.10), check out my step-by-step guide to get it in this question: Traditional search-as-you-type on newer Nautilus versions to build your own version of Nautilus with the support patched back in!

There is actually a way to get this in Nautilus 3.26 (the current version in Ubuntu 17.10), which is building your own version from source using a patch provided by the awesome Arch Linux community. Luckily the great build system in Ubuntu makes this quite easy. Here are the steps. I'll assume you'll be working in ~/bld-nautilus-typeahead. Open the terminal and do the following:

# install some necessary tools
sudo apt-get install git

# Create your work directory and go there
mkdir bld-nautilus-typeahead ; cd bld-nautilus-typeahead

# Clone the repository holding the needed patch: 
git clone https://aur.archlinux.org/nautilus-typeahead.git

# Make sure the source repositories for the main archives are available:
sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list

# If the deb-src line for the main repository (usually around line 6)   
# is commented out (starts with a #)     
# uncomment it (remove the #) and save the file.  
sudo apt-get update

# Install the build dependencies
sudo apt-get build-dep nautilus

# Retrieve the sources for Nautilus
apt-get source nautilus

# Source should now be in the 'nautilus-3.26.0/' folder. Go there
cd nautilus-3.26.0/

# and Apply the patch from arch-linux
patch -p0 < ../nautilus-typeahead/nautilus-restore-typeahead.patch

# Build the package from source
dpkg-buildpackage -rfakeroot -uc -b

# This will take a little time. If everything goes well, the related packages will end up in the parent directory. Go there
cd ..

# and install the required packages
sudo dpkg -i nautilus_3.26.0-0ubuntu1_amd64.deb nautilus-data_3.26.0-0ubuntu1_all.deb

Start a new Nautilus. Type some letters. Experience that feeling of joy that happens when the file you intended gets selected.

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