restore type-ahead find

Bug #1164016 reported by Adam Dingle on 2013-04-03
This bug affects 263 people
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
nautilus (Ubuntu)
Daniel Wyatt
ubuntu-settings (Ubuntu)
Robert Ancell

Bug Description

GNOME removed type-ahead find in Nautilus 3.6, not without controversy:

Now when you type in a Nautilus window, Nautilus immediately performs a search in the current directory and all its subdirectories. I personally find this annoying. If I want to search, I'll click the search icon. Often I'm looking at a long directory listing and simply want to jump to a certain point in it, and type-ahead find works great for that.

Would Ubuntu consider patching type-ahead find back in?

Related branches

Adam Dingle (adam-yorba) on 2013-04-03
description: updated
Sebastien Bacher (seb128) wrote :

Thanks Adam, it's something that annoys quite some people indeed. We are not sure what to do at the moment, nautilus 3.6 is an user regression compared to 3.4 on several fronts.

We are discussing adding back nautilus 3.4 as an option (and maybe make it the default in Ubuntu) but it's an unmaintained software upstream and it doesn't seem to be a good idea to suggest it to users if we are not going to have the resources to fix issues with it...

Changed in nautilus (Ubuntu):
importance: Undecided → Low
status: New → Confirmed
Adam Dingle (adam-yorba) wrote :

Yeah. My vote is to stay with the current Nautilus (3.6 in Raring) since it is maintained upstream, but to use patches or plugins to fix the most important regressions.

Alfredo Matos (alfmatos) wrote :

I would say that this is a long way from Low Importance. As a desktop user I hit this bug dozens of times per day, and over time this is incredibly frustrating to the point of having installed several alternatives, and even considering dropping Unity/Gnome in favor of KDE (or something sane).

Alfredo Matos (alfmatos) wrote :

Best workaround so far is to install nautilus 3.4 in 13.04:

Adam Dingle (adam-yorba) wrote :

I've also filed this upstream at

Adam Dingle (adam-yorba) wrote :

One more point. When the Nautilus designers replaced type-ahead find with search-as-you-type, their intention was that searching as you type would be really fast because Nautilus would use Tracker to search. See, for example, the comment : "Nautilus will build with a Tracker dependency by default unless
--disable-tracker is used. That is strongly not recommended. Search is going to kind of suck without it."

Because Ubuntu does not use Tracker, searching as you type in Nautilus is especially painful on Ubuntu, and so the removal of type-ahead find affects Ubuntu users especially acutely.

So in Ubuntu we could enable Tracker, which would alleviate the problem somewhat, and/or patch type-ahead find back in. I lean toward the patch: it's probably really easy. But I agree with Alfredo that finding some solution to this should have more than a Low importance.

Changed in nautilus (Ubuntu):
status: Confirmed → Triaged
Changed in nautilus:
importance: Unknown → Medium
status: Unknown → New
Benjamin Flesch (bflesch) wrote :

Adam Dingle: Thanks for clarifying that this issue has not been intended by the nautilus developers.

Anyway, this bug affects me a lot and I cannot believe that of all people working at/for Ubuntu, nobody ran into this issue. It is very striking and totally kills directory navigation as I am used to.

Changed in nautilus:
status: New → Invalid
Adolfo Jayme (fitojb) on 2013-05-19
Changed in nautilus (Ubuntu):
importance: Low → Medium
Marco Lackovic (marco-lackovic) wrote :

I also find the removal of type-ahead very frustrating. I think an option to re-enable it should be available.

In my opinion the previous behavior was more intuitive: if I wanted to search fo something I would have used the search function at hand. Before it was possible to discern the two things, (1) go to the file/folder in the current folder, (2) search for a file/folder in the current folders and subfolders. Now only option (2) is possible.

As a workaround, I followed the following suggestion and installed Nemo:

Justin Force (justin-force) wrote :

The new behavior is INFURIATING. And the search functionality is terrible. Even if it were fast (and it's terribly slow on my Core i7 and Intel SSD), it's stupid. I'm a software developer. When I type 'lib', I want to jump to the lib directory that I'm looking at--not find every directory and file with lib in it recursively. That's insane! And there's a well-established UX for this already: indicate that you want to perform a search by pressing Ctrl-F, F3, or whatever.

This change has made it virtually impossible to navigate Nautilus without a mouse, and so Nautilus is now completely useless to me. HUGE step backward.

I realize that GNOME is doing weird things with Nautilus 3.6, and that the version shipping with Ubuntu is a best effort by Canonical, the Ubuntu community, and friends to maintain sanity. I don't mean to criticize the folks who are doing the best they can. I just want adequately register my frustration here. My Ubuntu desktop experience is seriously hampered as Nautilus is completely useless to me now. It's much more efficient to do all file operations in a shell if I can't type-ahead find.

And I don't think this is an issue of, "Well, I guess it's time to learn new UI." I'm not averse to drastic changes to the UI if they're improvements. This isn't a matter of Old Dog v. New Trick. This is a very, very bad UI decision. It makes the software less useful.

Quick side rant: the GNOME team have been stripping out features and removing useful functionality for years. I understand the idea of boiling down a tool to its most essential parts, the benefits that that has for maintainability, and the elegance of a focused UI. But come on. It's easy to cross the line and break things that people rely on, and that seems to have been GNOME's modus operandi for at least the past 6 years.

Abraxas (cjay-martin) wrote :

I also agree on this. I used the lookahead as my primary navigation through complex filesystems. I have so many like-named subdirectories that this new feature is dropping my efficiency pretty badly. I was hoping to avoid using any of the cinnamon forks until/unless they became officially embraced by Ubuntu (just for compatibility reasons), but I'm a little stuck.

No rant here, just the facts, ma'am.

Salvation (jjmatt) wrote :

Just wanted to +1 what everyone else said. One more vote for a type-ahead search function.

M4he (mahe) wrote :

Can someone put together a patch, which incorporates the type-ahead search from Nautilus 3.4 into 3.6 ?

I switched to Kubuntu, now happily using Dolphin in place of Nautilus/File.

Florian (florian-phpws) wrote :

I +1 this. I've recently upgraded to 13.04 with nautilus 3.6 and this is the single most annoying thing at all. I quite like how most things are back to basics, but this is the complete opposite. Unless I want to make around for hours with the mouse and clinched eyes, this makes nautilus about as useful to me as a car with built in satnav that can only turn left. I would love to see a patch for this. As others mention, if I wanted to do this kind of search I would, well, search (Ctrl+F etc.).

James (ubuntu-soundunreason) wrote :

I concur. At least make this optional/switchable. It is a feature I do not wish to use. I like typing a few letters and jumping to a section in the list.

Tomasz Kucharski (qhrrrr) wrote :

Just wanted to agree with above, and show by posting that there are more frustrated users. This "feature" beats famous Win8 Start button. IMO it's worst "feature" ever designed, I'd love to see how developers of this software uses their file mangers. I can't understand why there is no way for users to configure this behavior. Even advanced users have no option to reconfigure. Why????

M4he (mahe) wrote :
Christian González (droetker) wrote :

Installing an old nautilus is no option here. This is a really annoying, broken feature and should be reverted to the old behaviour. Starting to type lets you loose your overview of where you are in the file system. If I want to search, I press Ctrl+F. Then this search should be available.

Please remove this "feature" again.

Sebastien Bacher (seb128) wrote :

Thanks for the interest/comments there, Ubuntu doesn't have a nautilus hacker though and that chance is coming from upstream, it would be better discussed on the upstream bug tracker/mailing list than on launchpad ... while we agree that the current situation is suboptimal not sure that's a problem that can easily by fixed by Ubuntu

M4he (mahe) wrote :

I strongly recommend Canonical to maintain their own version (fork) of 3.4 (maybe with the SolusOS patch). I think Nautilus 3.4 is a mature software already.

Adam Dingle (adam-yorba) wrote :

Sebastien, thanks for your comment - it's nice to know that someone at Ubuntu is paying attention to this thread.

I don't think forking an old version of Nautilus is practical. The problem is that it would be a ton of work to keep such a fork compatible with new versions of GTK, GLib and other libraries. Instead I think the current version of Nautilus (3.8 in Saucy) should be patched to fix this.

Removing type-ahead find has been controversial upstream (i.e. at GNOME) - see, for example, the discussions at

Nevertheless I think it's very unlikely that the GNOME developers will fix this for 3.10, or possibly ever. Even if they were to fix this in, say, Nautilus 3.12 next spring, that version won't appear in Ubuntu until late 2014 (since Ubuntu lags GNOME by a release cycle). So if this going to be fixed in Ubuntu in the near future, I think Ubuntu will need to take responsibility for doing that. You may not like that - sure, in an ideal world this would be discussed rationally and fixed upstream - but this is how it is.

You wrote "not sure that's a problem that can easily by fixed by Ubuntu". I guess that depends on what you mean by "easily". I'm quite confident that a competent hacker could come up with a patch to the current Nautilus that restores type-ahead find in, say, 2-3 weeks. It might even be easier. I'd start by attempting to git revert the commit where this breakage was introduced:

That will yield merge conflicts, which must be studied and resolved in some nice way. This might not be solvable in a day, but I'd be very surprised if this took more than a month of work.

To those of us on the outside, it's baffling that Ubuntu would not want to invest that amount of effort to solve this, since this is a highly visible core program on the Ubuntu desktop and it seems pretty evident that the majority of users are harmed by this. Has someone at Ubuntu already spent several weeks working on this and concluded it was too difficult? Or does Ubuntu not feel it would be worth that amount of effort?

Sebastien Bacher (seb128) wrote :

Hey Adam, thanks for your comment

> Has someone at Ubuntu already spent several weeks working on this and concluded it was too difficult? Or does Ubuntu not feel it would be worth that amount of effort?

Well, neither, the current desktop team has around 10 people to maintain the desktop ... that includes the complete GNOME stack, xorg, firefox, libreoffice, etc.

In practice that's quite a low amonth of manpower compared to the number of packages to maintain, blocking time from an hacker for more than half a day is difficult for us... there is no way at the moment to spare someone for a week to resolve nautilus issues, we just have to sneak fixes in between higher priority work

Oh, for the record we do agree that this bug is annoying and would like to fix, we just need to deal with what we have

Adam Dingle (adam-yorba) wrote :

Sebastien, thanks for your reply. Given your staffing level I can see why this is not as easy as it might seem.

According to this page Canonical has over 500 employees:

If only 10 of them are assigned to desktop maintenance, I would say that team is seriously understaffed. But that's probably a discussion for another forum, not this bug thread. :)

Sebastien Bacher (seb128) wrote :

> If only 10 of them are assigned to desktop maintenance, I would say that team is seriously understaffed. But that's probably a discussion for another forum, not this bug thread. :)

Right ... note that we have more "desktop" people than that, but most of them are working on Unity and Ubuntu Touch ... which limits our capacity for issues on the "traditionnal desktop". But as you said, that's a discussion getting out of topic for this bug ;-)

M Oberhauser (zomtir) wrote :

Unfortunately it seems that it's less a question of sense but stubbornness. Immediately after the changes were merged, they came up with the "Find in view is broken issue":

natermer left a long and very biased comment, indicating that Gnome won't return to the type ahead functionality. Not sure how deep he's involved into developement:

It might be worth a try to directly contact the responsible devs and have a polite discussion wether this bug was marked "invalid" on a technical and comprehensible reason, considering design and consistency being a bad tradeoff for usability and freedom of choice.

If Gnome then still persist on the Apple pathway, how are the chances of getting a type ahead plugin working?

To add my voice to this bug, I installed 13.04 today, on my work computer (previously Windows 7 only), to enable me to use a variety of bash scripts to process a large number of files on an external ext3 drive. At home I have 12.10 installed.

The files are images, several thousand per folder, stored in dated folders (such as 11-04-23-country_location). Now I know, for example, that I was in Belgium in May 2005, so I type '05-05' and a folder NEAR the one I want was previously highlighted, allowing me to quickly and easily find the correct folder. A related task is to go to the next, and previous, folders. Both of these uses are broken with the new search set-up.

The Gnome team's total brick-walling of the furious users should give pause for thought. I simply cannot believe they have shot themselves in the foot so categorically as to make the staple piece of software, that underpins their entire user interface, so crippled.

This is a far more serious usability issue than anything thrown up with the migration to Unity. I would rate it, probably, as the highest, most disruptive user interface bug I have ever come across in Ubuntu (and I've been with you since Warty).

The workaround linked by M4he above is good news, but the idea of having to install a patch to get basic file-browser functionality is insane. Even more insane than firing up Mac OSX and being faced with the abomination that is Finder.

Sebastian, it's great news that Ubuntu are listening, and seeing this as an issue, and I hope a proper solution is forthcoming. At what point does a frankly bizarre upstream user interface decision like this become priority #1 at Canonical? When it begins to compromise the very good work being done with Unity? When does it become worth moving a developer from Unity onto an issue like this?

Adam Dingle (adam-yorba) wrote :

Well stated, Andrew. I myself have used Ubuntu since the days of Dapper Drake, and I agree that this is one of the most serious usability problems I've seen in Ubuntu during that entire time.

firolp (firogm) wrote :

It's really a terrible things that disable type-ahead find. Please,implement a plugin or option to reenable type-ahead find.

2 comments hidden view all 166 comments
Dr. Amr Osman (dr3mro) wrote :

this patch works with nautilus 3.6 on ubuntu 13.04
this is patch i uploaded it to my ppa:dr3mro/personal
have fun

Dr. Amr Osman (dr3mro) wrote :

after installing the patched nautilus



restart nautilus
have fun !!

The attachment "enable_disable_recursive_search.patch" seems to be a patch. If it isn't, please remove the "patch" flag from the attachment, remove the "patch" tag, and if you are a member of the ~ubuntu-reviewers, unsubscribe the team.

[This is an automated message performed by a Launchpad user owned by ~brian-murray, for any issues please contact him.]

tags: added: patch
Dr. Amr Osman (dr3mro) on 2013-07-29
Changed in nautilus (Ubuntu):
assignee: nobody → Dr. Amr Osman (dr3mro)
Adam Dingle (adam-yorba) wrote :

Dr. Osman, thanks for your patch. A few comments:

1. Of course, this patch does not restore type-ahead find as originally requested in this bug ticket. Instead, it simply disables recursive searching, so that as you type only files in the current directory are returned. Still, this does significantly ease the pain of this upstream change. If Ubuntu can't summon the resources to restore type-ahead find in 13.10, I would recommend landing this patch since it's ultra-simple and does make things less painful. I'd further recommend modifying the patch so that non-recursive search is the default (as it stands, the user must set a GSettings key to disable recursive search, and few users will figure out how to do that). The GSettings key would then let users *enable* recursive search if they really want to. I suspect that few users will.

2. You really should be patching Nautilus 3.8.2, which is the current version of Nautilus in Ubuntu 13.10, where this is most likely to land. (I wouldn't mind seeing this backported to 13.04 either, though.)

3. In the patch, I believe you could simplify this code:

if (g_settings_get_boolean (nautilus_preferences, NAUTILUS_PREFERENCES_ENABLE_RECURSIVE_SEARCH)) {
  g_object_set (simple_provider, "recursive", TRUE, NULL);}
 g_object_set (simple_provider, "recursive", FALSE, NULL);


gboolean recursive = g_settings_get_boolean (nautilus_preferences, NAUTILUS_PREFERENCES_ENABLE_RECURSIVE_SEARCH));
g_object_set(simple_provider, "recursive", recursive, NULL);

Fewer lines are better. :)

Dr. Amr Osman (dr3mro) wrote :

ok did your suggestion
thank you

Xavier (rxaviers) wrote :

Looking forward to seeing this patch get landed. So, we are able to use Nautilus again. Any updates or plans on when it's gonna happen?

PS: I make Justin's my words. Current regression is INFURIATING.
Go Ubuntu, save us all from this evil.

carez (carez) wrote :

I switched to nemo file manager and very happy since then.

Darlan Alves (darlan) wrote :

Looking forward to see this thing fixed too.

It's just insane that a bug that made people install alternative packages just to get rid of a tiny new feature is not considered a ultra-super-high priority on Ubuntu teams.

I'm using Ubuntu for years, and this is the most annoying thing I've ever noticed since Unity was introduced. At first, I found myself cursing Ubuntu for that sudden UI change, but Unity made its way and now I really like it. I don't think the same gonna happen with this damn search thing.

Nautilus browsing is just useless right now! I prefer "Ctrl+Alt+T", "cd to/a/path", and "nautilus .&" instead of touch my mouse or insanely arrow-navigate to do so. I would try to fix it myself if I knew C++ =/

Please, pleease call Mark to dev's room and ask him for a "Nautilus browsing experience". I'm sure it would hate Nautilus as we do right now.

Changed in nautilus (Ubuntu):
assignee: Dr. Amr Osman (dr3mro) → nobody
Changed in nautilus:
importance: Medium → Unknown
status: Invalid → Unknown
Changed in nautilus:
importance: Unknown → Wishlist
status: Unknown → New
Changed in ubuntu-settings (Ubuntu):
status: New → In Progress
importance: Undecided → Medium
assignee: nobody → Robert Ancell (robert-ancell)
Changed in nautilus (Ubuntu):
assignee: nobody → Daniel Wyatt (daniel-wyatt)
status: Triaged → In Progress
Changed in nautilus (Ubuntu):
status: In Progress → Fix Committed
Changed in ubuntu-settings (Ubuntu):
status: In Progress → Fix Committed
Changed in nautilus (Ubuntu):
status: Fix Committed → Fix Released
Changed in ubuntu-settings (Ubuntu):
status: Fix Committed → Fix Released
Changed in nautilus:
status: New → Confirmed
Changed in nautilus:
status: Confirmed → Expired
Norbert (nrbrtx) on 2018-08-13
tags: added: bionic cosmic
86 comments hidden view all 166 comments
Norbert (nrbrtx) wrote :

I can't completely understand what GNOME developers are trying to achieve!
This functionality was used for years.

Ubuntu 14.04 LTS and 16.04 are not affected.
But 18.04 LTS and 18.10 are trying to perform search after entering first letter.

The patch for Nautilus in 18.04 LTS is available (see and ).

teo1978 (teo8976) wrote :

> I can't completely understand what GNOME developers are trying to achieve!
> 18.04 LTS and 18.10 are trying to perform search after entering first letter.

The underlying assumption seems to be that when you type the name of a file, the only thing you may possibly want is to search for that file, and that if the search is recursive within subdirectory, that's even better, and that the only reason you may not want that, is because a recursive search can become slow; but since they have optimized search so much that it is always instant-fast (or so they claim), then who wouldn't want Nautilus to just start searching recursively and instantly showing you the search results as you type? Genius, right?

Wrong. Becaue even assuming a recursive search in a bazillion files could be performed in a nanosecond, that is not necessarily what we want when we type a partial filename. Many of us just want to SELECT a file within the current directory while still viewing all of its contents and not just the matching file/s. Perhaps you want to simply SPOT that file and select other ones that are near to it, or actually select that one but also other ones.

When you want to do a search, which is a completely different thing, you can do Ctrl+F.

There is a fundamental difference between search (what you do when you don't know where something is) and navigate (what you do when you know exactly where something is, and want to go there). Why the gnome team have chosen to conflate them, and their mental state while doing so, is anyone's guess. But from a usability perspective, it is broken.

Milton Lai (miltonlai) wrote :

The most painful thing in Ubuntu 18.04. The search functionality is terrible when I just want to navigate to certain folder/file in a long list.

Malac (malacusp) wrote :

Please put this back in.

I never understand why developers /remove/ features instead of leaving them in and making it an option.

The previous org->gnome->nautilus->preferences setting accomplished this fine and should have been left active.

anonymous mouse (eeefafe) wrote :

OK. So I was a happy user of 16.04. With a new computer in August, I thought it would make sense to go with 18.04.

One of the biggest issues is this searching stuff in Nautilus. Why?
1. It is not instant (unlike the type/find ahead of Nautilus in 16.04). I cannot type and then press enter and load the folder I want.
2. It is inconsistent with file dialogs (e.g. save or open) where find/type ahead works as expected.
3. Often I just want to see the files and folders in relation to one another. I might want to see the files starting with 'th', and being able to see the files starting with 'te' and 'tg' before the ones starting with 'th' is often quite useful.
4. There is no way that I can see to make it search only within the directory and not recursively search all subdirectories. I don't like that.
5. And searching within subdirectories doesn't even work 100% of the time! E.g. A search for a dot folder consistently doesn't turn it up.

Thank you Ubuntu developers for previously hiding this stupidity. Please consider getting rid of it in 18.04 as well.

Jan-Jonas Sämann (janjonas) wrote :

This stupid behavior isn't only inconvinient,

-> this really BREAKS FUNCTIONALITY if you work on network resources.

Especially in Germany where possible internet speeds in many locations do not exeed well known dialup connection speeds.

What happens then is a complete lockup on nautilus while the filelists are queried again from the remote site. This usually takes minutes to complete.

Allan Boll (allanrbo) wrote :

+1. Type-ahead is basic expected functionality of a file browser.

javier (javierleal) wrote :

I changed to Dolphin :-(

zhanghongce (zhanghongce) wrote :

One more vote for a type-ahead navigation rather than a search. The search is stupid.

CarlosRuiz_globalqss (carg67) wrote :

I think the change is interesting - what seems annoying is to force the user - not letting us choose. In my case - installing back the old nautilus.

Norbert (nrbrtx) on 2018-12-09
tags: added: disco
आर्य (arya108) wrote :

I installed a PPA that served as a workaround, until an update this morning. Now there is no type-ahead and the PPA does not work. One more vote for a type-ahead.

teo1978 (teo8976) wrote :

Why the fuck hasn't this been reopened yet??

javier (javierleal) wrote :

They do not think to fix It

teo1978 (teo8976) wrote :


if by "they" you mean the upstream Nautilus developers, that's right: they don't even understand it's a bug. The Gnome development team, or at least the part responsible for Naitulus, has proven many times to be a bunch of idiots. For the last several years, they have taken many design decision that completely destroyed the usability of their software.

But the Ubuntu team seems to be more intelligent. In the past they have patched several things in Nautilus and perhaps other Gnome products to fix the idiotic mistakes made upstream. This was one of them.

Now the question is: does Ubuntu consider it worth to keep doing the patching to fix the upstream idiocies in Nautilus? If that is the case, then this, among other things, needs to be fixed. Again.

If not, if they are going to rely on the upstream developers fixing upstream issues, then they must drop Nautilus in favor of some other file manager that is not maintained by a bunch of idiots.

teo1978 (teo8976) wrote :

Yeah right.

Bruno Duyé (brunetton-gmail) wrote :

Today, as often, I installed Ubuntu to a new Linux user, coming from Windows. Everything is great and well designed, intuitive, and quick ... then ... this lady began to feel confortable and wanted to quickly jump to the photo named "IMG232.jpg"; so she started to type "IMG" on her folder, containing hundred of photos and sub-folder and ... yeah, I suddently remembered WHY I gave up using this software a bunch of years ago.
How to explain this to this lady ? After a while she understood that those files that dissapeared and appeared under her eyes wasn't a deletion, but a search result. How to know WITCH IMG232.jpg was the one of the **current** folder ? The folder of the bro's weeding ?
She logically asked me how to change this default strange behavior and I logically said to her "oh yeah, I remember this is a way old story; this MUST be an option to disable this". And ... WT-holly-F ? No, no option at all :/

I **CAN'T BELIEVE** that after more than 5 years there's still NO option to DECIDE what should be the default behavior of the default browser. And when I see the ridiculous patch [1] this implies, I can't believe it even less. What would be the cost of an option in program's preferences ?!


teo1978 (teo8976) wrote :

There's no need for an option.

You can already do a recursive search with Ctrl+F.
I "can't believe" one would want to enable type-ahead-recursive-search instead of type-ahead-select-in-current-folder by default just to spare themselves the trouble of hitting Ctrl+F.

However, an option, even if for enabling the weirdest preference or for accomodating the rarest use case, is always a good thing. What is absolutely unacceptable is a wrong default behavior that, even worse, cannot even be changed to the more sensible one. That is, the current situation.

I am stuck with 16.04 because upgrading to 18.04 would mean having to live with this crap, which is like living without a file explorer at all (that's doable for somebody accustomed to doing everyday tasks from a terminal, but that's not me, nor the average user).

Chris Billington (cjbil1) wrote :
Download full text (3.6 KiB)

I don't think it's true that an option is always good. I think software should endeavour to have decent default options, and if multiple use cases can be accommodated without an option, then that is preferable.

But you're right, a recursive search with ctrl-f vs typeahaed with simple typing would accomplish what everyone wants without an option.

I'm using the 'search in current folder only' setting in order to make the search more like typeahead, but this has the downside that I have to go into the settings to do an actual recursive search. In reality, recursive search is useful, and I want to use it, but it's different to typeahead and it's a shame I have to pick one or the other.

Ideally for me would be typing is just going to select things similarly to the old typeahead behaviour, and ctrl-f would do a search, either in the current folder or recursively depending on a checkbox that would ideally be in the main interface next to the search box rather than in the settings menu - since one often wants one or the other, it's not really an all-time preference.

I do think things will eventually go back this way. There is currently wasted effort trying to make search meet the requirements of type-ahead, whereas this would be unnecessary if typeahead existed too. Search is becoming a bit of a frankenstein trying to be both, with returning items from the current folder first, and having the search-in-current-folder-only setting being global. It should just be search - features should do one thing each instead of trying to please everyone.

I understand that search has been improved a lot in response to complaints about type-ahead being removed, and this shows that the devs are trying to meet people's use cases. But ultimately I think it is misguided and making the search implementation more complex than it otherwise would need to be. They are really are different features. So I know there has been a lot of vitriol over this issue, but I would encourage the nautilus devs to consider that they should become different features once again. Ctrl-f to search will not confuse anybody, type-ahead will not confuse anybody, whereas the current search is trying to be both and so can behave unexpectedly in terms of the order of search results and whether the search is recursive. Presumably this means code complexity too.

I also understand that the old type-ahead code was holding back the codebase and so it was desirable to excise it. I imagine new typeahead functionality, working as much as possible within the current codebase and its future directions, would be more amenable to nautilus dev approval than just restoring the old code. For example, we probably don't need the popup box in the bottom right as you type. It should just be type a few characters and have a few-second timeout before forgetting them, just like it is on other platforms such as windows and macos (I think). It seems similar to me to the case or removing nautilus handling the desktop. The code was holding back the codebase, but now we see that a desktop extension for gnome-shell is in development by the main nautilus dev.

I do think Nautilus can satisfy everyone's preferences here, an...


Mihir Gadgil (mihir-gadgil) wrote :

Is there any timeline as to when this stupidity is going to be fixed? This is a very very very basic functionality for any file explorer; something any new application should add. Taking it out of a software that has already had it for years and annoying people who rely on it is simply illogical.

teo1978 (teo8976) wrote :

> In reality,
> recursive search is useful, and I want to use it, but it's different to
> typeahead

Exactly, they are two completely different, unrelated things, and if the Nautilus devs can't understand something as elementary as that, Ubuntu shouldn't be using software developed by those people as the default file explorer.

This issue is just one example; nautilus developers have taken quite a few "design decisions" that are - ahem - let's say contrary to common sense, degrading usability rather than improve things.

Keeping Nautilus as the file explorer means Ubuntu will have to keep struggling with this sort of things and maintaining patches like this one. Of course, if there's no better alternative out there (I find it hard to believe that such a shitty file manager is the best available, but I don't know, it might be), then it'll have to be this.

> I do think things will eventually go back this way
> (...) I do think Nautilus can satisfy everyone's preferences here

How long do we have to wait for them to recapacitate and revert breaking stuff that had been designed correctly in the first place ages ago?

Chris Billington (cjbil1) wrote :

I don't know how long it will take, but in the meantime Ubuntu could ship the patch maintained by the Arch community:

It looks like this patch is kept up to date pretty well. There is a similar patch for gtk3 to make the file chooser dialog have type-ahead.

It's the best of both worlds, since you can still tap ctrl-f to search.

Whilst it would be nice for the Nautilus devs to upstream the patch or for there to be a dialog about what kind of patch they might accept (if any), in the meantime distros can include the patch, there is little downside since the patch is maintained and not bit rotting. Canonical would not be committing themselves to maintaining it by including it.

Ads20000 (ads20000) wrote :

This is an upstream GNOME bug (though you might want to make the case that Ubuntu should deviate from the default GNOME behaviour for this issue, in which case please open a new bug since I don't think standard practice is to re-open old bugs like this when it has been fixed in an Ubuntu release? I think you could reasonably tag the new bug as a regression. If you do make a new bug for this issue in newer Ubuntu releases then please link to it from here), please +1 (use the thumbs up button on the original Issue and comments that you agree with, don't comment a +1) the following issues to indicate your support for a restoration of type-ahead. On unlocked Issues you can also comment specific use-cases which a lack of type-ahead breaks and which the optimizations mentioned in and don't fix (if you think those optimizations would help your use-case then please +1 them). Specific use-cases where you absolutely NEED type-ahead search may change the developers' minds, if you don't have specific use-cases then just +1 comments on GNOME GitLab that you agree with, but we're unlikely to see much change in that case, we NEED specific use-cases: (unlocked) (locked) (unlocked) (unlocked)

Grant Woodford (woodford-gw) wrote :

I am switching to Nemo because of this.

CarlosRuiz_globalqss (carg67) wrote :

Agree with Grant, not easy, but doable.
I migrated to nemo 42 days ago following this guide:

I must say I can't be more happy :-)
Again things work as I would expect in a file explorer.
Typeahead works - but also the multi-tab that was dropped from nautilus some time ago - I missed that one too.
So, IMHO great decision.
I would love that ubuntu takes nemo as default.

These discussions are really weird, when the change can be easily solved adding a flag in preferences, and the discussion get hot with your community, not solving sounds like discussion evolved to ego issues.

Norbert (nrbrtx) on 2019-04-21
tags: added: eoan
Tuomo Sipola (tuomosipola) wrote :

Please bring this functionality to Ubuntu's Nautilus. Disco now has the distressing search functionality extended even to the save dialog.

The Gnome team is extremely resistant to bring back the old intuitive functionality. I tried to explain the problems at , as did many others. People are still requesting the old type-ahead thing, so the trade-offs have not been accounted for.

teo1978 (teo8976) wrote :

> The Gnome team is extremely resistant to bring back the old intuitive functionality.
> I tried to explain the problems at
> , as did many others.

Trying to reason with the Gnome team is a complete waste of time.

That's why Ubuntu should either patch it, or drop Nautilus completely.

Why the f*** is this bug still in the "fix released" status? It should either be reopened or a new one created.

Norbert (nrbrtx) wrote :

+1 @teo1978 (teo8976)

Users will decide. The most radical solution would be purging the whole GNOME desktop and install MATE DE instead. I switched to MATE in 2013 and I'm completely happy with it.

In MATE the Caja file-manager (fork of Nautilus) has normal search even in 19.04. Also it has Extra Pane (acessible with <F3> key).
See for removal process.

ts (toto-23) wrote :

So mate used to be great but doesn't seem to be a solution anymore either, type-ahead-find seemingly has been replaced for search-as-you-type in mate sometimes this summer as well, too.

+1 for replacement, it could at least be a configuration option

This change has made the system effectively inappropriate for use in a business situation where mistakes are to be avoided. In the old system, searching within a folder for a file to send to a client would only list files from that folder. Now, file-open and so on show me files from ANYWHERE ON THE SYSTEM FOR ANY CLIENT WHATSOEVER, leaving the user a single mis-click away from a GDPR violation. Choosing a folder should set a boundary on the files displayed. If I want search, I'll search.

I think a nice way to solve this stupid debate could be to ensure that the files are displayed in a STABLE order
- type ahead results from the current folder first
- folders first
- files in the current folder before the other files...

what is MOST annoying with the current feature is that when you have spotted the file you're interested it (or quite often the folder) then
- there can be other files/folder with the same name and it is impossible to know which is relevant (it should be the closest, the one from the current folder, etc). It seems to be the last used, so it changes
- when you have spotted the folder or file you want to open, the time you move your pointer to open it the files are reorganized as further search has been done, and you open some other random file.

How is it possible to maintain such a feature the way it currently works? The search should be done in some order, and this order should not change so rapidly while you're trying to find your result...

teo1978 (teo8976) wrote :


I haven't seen any debate.

And no, your proposed "solution" is no solution to the issue.
That's a good possible improvement to the search itself, but type-ahead should do select, NOT search for the obvious reasons that have already been pointed out which are not solved by your proposed improvements to the search

Anton Gousier (agousier) wrote :

SEARCHING IS NOT NAVIGATING, please. Besides the debate on whether the option to disable search when starting to type should exist (I think it should), #144 has raised quite an important side effect: searching should not make it look like files are deleted.

CarlosRuiz_globalqss (carg67) wrote :

This ticket was opened 7 years ago, and after 160 comments, nobody seems to care about.

I lost all my hope that ubuntu or gnome are going to take care of this, probably 259 affected people is too little for them.

I installed nemo 1 year ago, and didn't come back, I'm happy with nemo bringing me back the F3 shortcut to navigate two trees simultaneously, and the type-ahead behaving as expected, and at the same time being able to search with Ctrl-F.

Sad answer to community, but reading the history of gnome project it seems is not uncommon.

I see gnome resolved the related ticket as obsolete - so, probably would be better to do the same with this ticket here at ubuntu - and let people move ahead (to nemo) without false hope :-)

teo1978 (teo8976) wrote :

Actually this one is marked as fixed because it was indeed fixed several years ago, but then the fix was lost (i.e. the patch not rewritten) when a new version of gnome was released, "because" search is faster now, which according to some nonsensical reasoning by those who don't uderstand this issue, meant to them that the issue was no longer relevant.

CarlosRuiz_globalqss (carg67) wrote :

For reference only:

Old gnome bug resolved as obsolete:

Recent bugs opened with same topic:
- with 9 related tickets closed

Norbert (nrbrtx) wrote :

The real fix for whole modern GNOMEs Hell is simple - do not use it.
Remove it (for example on 20.04 LTS with ) and install normal DE instead - with Caja, Dolphin, Nemo, Thunar or whatever.

amano (jyaku) wrote :

Why can't you just move on? What is your stupid agenda?

guy.brush (guy.brush) wrote :

I don’t think anyone has an agenda here. People are searching for a way to give feedback and to communicate their frustration with this change. Obviously, this change which broke functionality that many users relied on caused quite a bit of frustration.

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