Impossible to change column width of Nautilus in list view

Bug #1205055 reported by Ari Passopolis on 2013-07-25
This bug affects 31 people
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
nautilus (Ubuntu)

Bug Description

In Gnome Nautilus 3.8.2 under kernel 3.8.0-26-generic (64-bit), using the mouse to change column width is unavailing. It's as if these widths are hard coded. This seems to be a reversion, since the problem has been reported by various people ever since 2007. Now, 6 years later, the bug remains unswatted. This sort of thing is an embarrassment to Ubuntu. Can something be done?

floid (jkanowitz) wrote :

Resizing columns doesn't seem to be a problem for me with Nautilus 3.8.2 on 13.10 x86-64 as just released (for the Name and Size fields - Type and Modified are apparently 'wide enough' and not adjustable), but I'm experiencing something potentially related:

Intermittently, the "Type" and "Modified" columns do not respond to a click to sort by that column. Resizing the width of the window seems to be the most reliable workaround to get them responsive.

When the columns can't be resized, do the fields still respond to 'sort-by' clicks?

mario (marava1) wrote :

I have upgraded two pc, from Ubuntu 13.04 to 13.10(one 32 bit, the other 64bit).
In nautilus i cannot enlarge the column of the "file name" because i cannot shrink the others.
So if Ihave a long path the list of the name of the files that appears can be like this:
Very useful, is not it?
Write to me if you need more informations, thenks

Launchpad Janitor (janitor) wrote :

Status changed to 'Confirmed' because the bug affects multiple users.

Changed in nautilus (Ubuntu):
status: New → Confirmed
floid (jkanowitz) wrote :

At risk of making this another "miscellaneous complaints" bug, but it appears there is yet another intermittent issue where "cut and paste" moving of files ceases to work.

mario (marava1) wrote :

I confirm that to date I have never been able to enlarge the width columns as I need: I have files with long names in long paths. Please tell me how can I use a system in which file manager shows me filenames (or folder name) like A... or b....!
I like very much Ubuntu and I find it with Unity very well, but I think that, with very much disappointment, If it will not change I will use another SO. Please someone can tell something of reassuring?

floid (jkanowitz) wrote :

Hmm. I just experimented with your problem here and notice that if the window is not wide enough in list view, you cannot stretch the contents of the Name field past the

Do you get the double arrow "<->" cursor when you hover over the | divider between the "Name" and Size" fields?
If you get the double arrow, Can you then hold the left button and drag to the left to make the "Name" field *smaller*?
...and then does dragging it back to the right work until the contents of the "Modified" column hits the right side of the window?

I just checked and see that e.g. Nautilus 2.32 from GNOME 2.x would allow stretching the "Name" column to the right and beyond, creating a horizontal scrollbar. It appears that horizontal scrollbars are gone from Nautilus/"Files" 3.8.2. Maybe that is what you're missing? If so that appears to have been another GNOME simplification (see also the enforced "spatial Nautilus" controversy of a decade ago or the We've Decided You Must Have a Clock And It Must Be Centered In Your Top Panel of GNOME 3).

Possible workarounds:
* You can 'emulate' the horizontal scrollbar behavior clumsily by dragging the window around and stretching it wider than the screen (drag it so left edge hangs off left edge of screen, then widen to right, then drag the whole window back and forth.

* For long paths, you can turn off the "Location" column under "Visible Columns" in the "v" dropdown menu, and have something close to "every other operating system"'s behavior where the current path is just shown in the navigation bar for the window.

I agree that more of a 'split line' view for search results would be great, so the full path could show below the items returned, or developers could bring back the 'caret'/'indented' sort of expanding tree view naturally indicating the parent directories - which I miss greatly when not searching, too. (I'm guessing the old code for that 'broke' at some point during the Nautilus rewrite or it would not have gone away.) And I agree that it was kind of ridiculous to get rid of horizontal scrolling entirely, especially now that mouse wheels with left/right tilt are common, but I'm guessing they conflicted visually with the "sticky note" that has replaced the status bar to see the size and item count for the selected item. Which is sort of redundant in list view where "Size" is a column by default.

[Sadly my report of the "Modified" column still regularly becoming dead to clicks is still a problem for me.]

floid (jkanowitz) wrote :

You may also want to try installing XFCE's Thunar which appears to have similar scrollbar behavior to old Nautilus. This will probably pull in a large bunch of XFCE dependencies but if you have the disk space that should be okay; then just add it to your dock as an alternative file browser.

(If there's a legacy Nautilus package that can co-exist with 3.x, I wouldn't mind one myself - sometimes I want the instant search, other times I miss that tree-browsing approach in list view.)

Sebastien Bacher (seb128) wrote :

> If there's a legacy Nautilus package that can co-exist with 3.x, I wouldn't mind one

you can try "nemo", it's based on the codebase of the "legacy" nautilus

Jan (jcgb) wrote :

I can confirm this bug. Ubuntu 13.10 kernel 3.11.0-15-generic, GNOME nautilus 3.8.2.

I can shrink my colums as I like but there is a maximum size so very long column entries (e.g. long filenames) can never be displayed fully. It is very unnerving and a change for the worse from the old behavior.

Eddie B (fasteddieb216) wrote :

Since I upgraded Ubuntu Studio from 13.04 to 13.10 (nautilus 3.8.2) I have had the same problem as the first 2 posts here. After seeing the post saying that re-sizing nautilus helps, I played around with that. I noticed that the when re-sizing the zone I can't click on still has the same distance from the left side of the window, but I can click on "Modified" because the "Modified" column name has moved. Further playing showed me that the problem only starts after I go to a folder that displays a "MIME Type" column in Nautilus and then go to a folder that does not display that column. And the dead spot that I can't click on looks to be exactly where "MIME Type" column name was showing, which is all of "Modified" and the left side of "Owner" up to the middle of the "O". So, this bug appears to be in the code that hides "MIME Type" column.

If it is helpful, I get the "MIME Type" column when I view "/tank" which is my ZFS mount point.


hackel (hackel) wrote :

Still seeing this behaviour with Nautilus 1:3.10.1-0ubuntu8 on Ubuntu 14.04. I noticed it in my Rubbish Bin... The Original Location column contains some very long paths which push all other columns to their minimum widths, which is why they are not apparently resizeable. Unfortunately this results in a Name column with only ellipses and no letters. If I hide the Original Location column, I am able to see the file names and resize all columns as normal. The Original Location and Location columns, at a minimum, need to be set to ellipsize, and the Name column needs a sensible minimum width of 5-6 characters.

Norm Lamarra (a-norm) wrote :

I am running 13.10 x86_64 and this bug seems to affect only the Trash Bin, not the regular folder view, as shown in the attached. The Trash Bin window has to be widened until the longest filename in the "Original Location" column (the whole listing, not just what is visible inside the window shown) fits into the frame without truncation -- then the "Name" column is allowed to begin stretching. So for some reason, the "Original Location" column doesn't allow truncation with an ending "..." while the "Name" column does...

floid (jkanowitz) wrote :

Trash issue in #11 and #12 reproduces with 13.10 (64-bit also) here as well.

[Anybody else have my "'Modified' column header doesn't always accept mouseclicks to sort" issue? Starting from Trash, which activates the "Location" column in new tabs within that window is actually a pretty good workaround...]

Gustavo L (gustavo-lapido) wrote :

I'm on Ubuntu 14.04 (32) and this is happening for any window in list mode, not only trash.

When I maximize the window, I can resize the name column to the right to the point where the remaining columns fit. After that, it isn't possible (but, at least, you have a much greater name column).

I think what's missing here is a horizontal scroll bar that would show whenever resizing hides remaining columns.

Alex Burdu (alex.burdu) wrote :

Having this problem on Ubuntu 14.04 x64 fresh install. Unable to resize columns in list mode. I can make the "Name" column smaller, but not bigger. Cannot resize the other columns in any way.

Todor Andreev (toshko3) wrote :

I'm on Ubuntu 14.04 and cannot resize columns, only Name column gets resized smaller and bigger, but never bigger from the initial size.
This bug is a MAJOR annoyance. It makes your computer 50% unusable! Will be happy if more people complain about it, so the guys fix it once and forever!

Nico Schmidt (nico-m-schmidt) wrote :

Same problem here on fresh install of Ubuntu 14.04 x64.
How can problems like this happen? There have been thousands of table-like browsers with multiple columns for decades. Why the need for changing everything in every new release??? Functionality changes, location of buttons, or options appear and disappear like random in each release! It's so annoying!!!

Mirko Cegledi (mrkcgld) wrote :

Same problem Ubuntu 14.04 x64, first experienced in recycle bin.

Solution: Disable the "Original Location" column. After this, the name column is resizable. I guess there's a strange value given as default width for "Original Location", MAX_INT or something like that :), which makes it in turn impossible to change any other column as long as "Original Location" is visible.

runner (runner2) wrote :

I confirm this problem is still with us in 14.04. Just to clarify, the problem occurs not just when the combined length of data in all columns is as wide as the frame of teh nautilus. I see it when some columns have space beyond the data they hold and still can not resize the columns.
So we have two cases.
When the data of all columns is narrow enough.
You do not care that you can not resize the columns. However in this case it is not huge problem because you can see all teh data.
When the data of all columns is so long that it does not fit.
Example is when you search for data and the path is long and so as pointed out by Mario so eloquently you see:
instead file name and path you get:
fi..... /home/smith/class2014/this/that............
fi..... /home/smith/class2013/blah/.................
fi..... /home/smith/class2012/so/and............
and this is the situation when it hurts a lot.
thank you for listening

peterenis (subscriptions-z) wrote :

ubuntu 14.04 LTS, 64-bit architecture.

The very same bug still present : Cannot change culumn with.

Just a guess : Might be a horizontal scrollbar issue. So the symptom is the effect of another issue : the scrollbar / pagewidth. But that's really just mere guessing.

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