If you are a Gnome Desktop user on Linux and use Nautilus File Manager to browse your files, here’s a handy tip.

When you access your files via the Places menu, (e.g., Places → Home Folder), there are two ways you can view your files (among many other ways, I guess):

  • The file manager window has a browser pane on the left. This pane (also called the Side Pane) provides easy access to your bookmarks, mounted drives, etc. This is my preferred way. Here’s what it looks like:

File manager with browser pane

  • The file manager window does not have a browser pane. One of the reasons I am not so comfortable with this is that it opens a new window when you double-click on a folder. Too many windows can result if you are browsing around. And here’s how it looks:

File manager without browser pane

It is a matter of personal preference. Since I use Ubuntu extensively, and its default is to show the file manager with the side pane, I am kind of used to it. So when I started working on another computer where the default was without the side pane, I wasn’t very comfortable.

But as it turns out, like with many other customization options on Linux, this was easy to change.

All it takes is to set the configuration key /apps/nautilus/preferences/always_use_browser to be true. There are a couple of ways you can do that.

With the Configuration Editor GUI

You can start the Configuration Editor from the Application → System Tools menu. Or use the gconf-editor command in the Terminal. Once in the Configuration Editor, navigate to the /apps/nautilus/preferences/always_use_browser key in the left side pane:

Key in the Configuration Editor

Check the checkbox to enable the preference.

With gconftool-2 command

Much easier way, for folks who are not so much against the Terminal. Open the Terminal and use this command:

% gconftool-2 --set --type=bool /apps/nautilus/preferences/always_use_browser true

So there. And while we are at it, a quick poll, may be?