Basic Tasks2018-11-12T12:05:25+03:00

Files and Folders

Browse files and folders

Use the Files file manager to browse and organize the files on your computer. You can also use it to manage files on storage devices (like external hard disks), on file servers, and on network shares.

To start the file manager, open Files in the Application Menu. You can also search for files and folders through the Activities overview in the same way you would search for applications.

Exploring the contents of folders

In the file manager, double-click any folder to view its contents, and double-click or middle-click any file to open it with the default application for that file. Middle-click a folder to open it in a new tab. You can also right-click a folder to open it in a new tab or new window.

The path bar above the list of files and folders shows you which folder you’re viewing, including the parent folders of the current folder. Click a parent folder in the path bar to go to that folder. Right-click any folder in the path bar to open it in a new tab or window, or access its properties.

If you want to quickly search for a file, in or below the folder you are viewing, start typing its name. A search bar will appear at the top of the window and only files which match your search will be shown. Press Esc to cancel the search.

You can quickly access common places from the sidebar. If you do not see the sidebar, click Files in the top bar and then select Sidebar. You can add bookmarks to folders that you use often and they will appear in the sidebar. Drag a folder to the sidebar, and drop it over New bookmark, which appears dynamically, or click the window menu and then select Bookmark this Location.

Copy or move files and folders

A file or folder can be copied or moved to a new location by dragging and dropping with the mouse, using the copy and paste commands, or by using keyboard shortcuts.

For example, you might want to copy a presentation onto a memory stick so you can take it to work with you. Or, you could make a back-up copy of a document before you make changes to it (and then use the old copy if you don’t like your changes).

These instructions apply to both files and folders. You copy and move files and folders in exactly the same way.

Copy and paste files

  1. Select the file you want to copy by clicking on it once.

  2. Right-click and pick Copy, or press Ctrl+C.

  3. Navigate to another folder, where you want to put the copy of the file.

  4. Click the menu button and pick Paste to finish copying the file, or press Ctrl+V. There will now be a copy of the file in the original folder and the other folder.

Cut and paste files to move them

  1. Select the file you want to move by clicking on it once.

  2. Right-click and pick Cut, or press Ctrl+X.

  3. Navigate to another folder, where you want to move the file.

  4. Click the menu button in the toolbar and pick Paste to finish moving the file, or press Ctrl+V. The file will be taken out of its original folder and moved to the other folder.

Drag files to copy or move

  1. Open the file manager and go to the folder which contains the file you want to copy.

  2. Click Files in the top bar, select New Window (or press Ctrl+N) to open a second window. In the new window, navigate to the folder where you want to move or copy the file.

  3. Click and drag the file from one window to another. This will move it if the destination is on the same device, or copy it if the destination is on a different device.

    For example, if you drag a file from a USB memory stick to your Home folder, it will be copied, because you’re dragging from one device to another.

    You can force the file to be copied by holding down the Ctrl key while dragging, or force it to be moved by holding down the Shift key while dragging.

Delete files and folders

If you do not want a file or folder any more, you can delete it. When you delete an item it is moved to the Trash folder, where it is stored until you empty the trash. You can restore items in the Trash folder to their original location if you decide you need them, or if they were accidentally deleted.

To send a file to the trash:

  1. Select the item you want to place in the trash by clicking it once.

  2. Press Delete on your keyboard. Alternatively, drag the item to the Trash in the sidebar.

The file will be moved to the trash, and you’ll be presented with an option to Undo the deletion. The Undo button will appear for a few seconds. If you select Undo, the file will be restored to its original location.

To delete files permanently, and free up disk space on your computer, you need to empty the trash. To empty the trash, right-click Trash in the sidebar and select Empty Trash.

Permanently delete a file

You can immediately delete a file permanently, without having to send it to the trash first.

To permanently delete a file:

  1. Select the item you want to delete.

  2. Press and hold the Shift key, then press the Delete key on your keyboard.

  3. Because you cannot undo this, you will be asked to confirm that you want to delete the file or folder.

Rename a file or folder

As with other file managers, you can use Files to change the name of a file or folder.

To rename a file or folder:

  1. Right-click on the item and select Rename, or select the file and press F2.

  2. Type the new name and press Enter or click Rename.

You can also rename a file from the properties window.

When you rename a file, only the first part of the name of the file is selected, not the file extension (the part after the last .). The extension normally denotes what type of file it is (for example, file.pdf is a PDF document), and you usually do not want to change that. If you need to change the extension as well, select the entire file name and change it.

If you renamed the wrong file, or named your file improperly, you can undo the rename. To revert the action, immediately click the menu button in the toolbar and select Undo Rename, or press Ctrl+Z, to restore the former name.

Valid characters for file names

You can use any character except the / (slash) character in file names. Some devices, however, use a file system that has more restrictions on file names. Therefore, it is a best practice to avoid the following characters in your file names: |, \, ?, *, <, , :, >, /.

If you name a file with a . as the first character, the file will be hidden when you attempt to view it in the file manager.

Common problems

The file name is already in use:

You cannot have two files or folders with the same name in the same folder. If you try to rename a file to a name that already exists in the folder you are working in, the file manager will not allow it.

File and folder names are case sensitive, so the file name File.txt is not the same as FILE.txt. Using different file names like this is allowed, though it is not recommended.

The file name is too long:

On some file systems, file names can have no more than 255 characters in their names. This 255 character limit includes both the file name and the path to the file (for example, /home/wanda/Documents/work/business-proposals/…), so you should avoid long file and folder names where possible.

The option to rename is grayed out:

If Rename is grayed out, you do not have permission to rename the file. You should use caution with renaming such files, as renaming some protected files may cause your system to become unstable. See Set file permissions for more information.

Search for files

You can search for files based on their name or file type directly within the file manager.


  1. Open the Files application from the Application Menu.

  2. If you know the files you want are under a particular folder, go to that folder.

  3. Type a word or words that you know appear in the file name, and they will be shown in the search bar. For example, if you name all your invoices with the word “Invoice”, type invoice. Words are matched regardless of case.

    Instead of typing words directly to bring up the search bar, you can click the magnifying glass in the toolbar, or press Ctrl+F.

  4. You can narrow your results by location and file type.

    • Click Home to restrict the search results to your Home folder, or All Files to search everywhere.

    • Click the + button and pick a File Type from the drop-down list to narrow the search results based on file type. Click the × button to remove this option and widen the search results.

  5. You can open, copy, delete, or otherwise work with your files from the search results, just as you would from any folder in the file manager.

  6. Click the magnifying glass in the toolbar again to exit the search and return to the folder.

Sort files and folders

You can sort files in different ways in a folder, for example by sorting them in order of date or file size. See Ways of sorting files below for a list of common ways to sort files. See Views preferences in Files for information on how to change the default sort order.

The way that you can sort files depends on the folder view that you are using. You can change the current view using the list or icon buttons in the toolbar.

Icon view

To sort files in a different order, click the view options button in the toolbar and choose By Name, By Size, By Type, By Modification Date, or By Access Date.

As an example, if you select By Name, the files will be sorted by their names, in alphabetical order. See Ways of sorting files for other options.

You can sort in the reverse order by selecting Reversed Order from the menu.

List view

To sort files in a different order, click one of the column headings in the file manager. For example, click Type to sort by file type. Click the column heading again to sort in the reverse order.

In list view, you can show columns with more attributes and sort on those columns. Click the view options button in the toolbar, pick Visible Columns… and select the columns that you want to be visible. You will then be able to sort by those columns. See Files list columns preferences for descriptions of available columns.

Ways of sorting files

Name: Sorts alphabetically by the name of the file.
Size: Sorts by the size of the file (how much disk space it takes up). Sorts from smallest to largest by default.
Type: Sorts alphabetically by the file type. Files of the same type are grouped together, then sorted by name.
Last Modified: Sorts by the date and time that a file was last changed. Sorts from oldest to newest by default.