Automatically opening hotplugged external storage drives (ex: USB pendrives) in a new tab instead of a separate Nautilus window?

Here’s an idea for something that’s been bugging me for a very long time, as I use USB drives, pendrives, and SD cards very often: everytime you plug one of these in, Nautilus opens a new window (typically in the background).

I’d very much prefer it to open a new tab, as I was going to open a new tab each time anyway. But how to make this non confusing for less technical users? Short of providing a preference/setting for it, or using an infobar / overlay to tell the user that a new tab has been opened for them and that they should be careful before closing the window, I don’t really know how to address this in a way that satisfies both power users and not-techsavvy users… Any thoughts on that, @allanday / @tbernard?

Hi Jeff, what exactly do you mean by “make this non confusing for less technical users”? Do you consider tabs to be confusing? Or because users might not expect to encounter them in nautilus?

My observation is that non-technical users I know who run GNOME (ex: 70-80-years-old family members) don’t ever use tabs, anywhere (including the web browser), they have zero notion of multitasking (they use one application at a time and close the current running app everytime they want to switch, no matter how often you tell them to NOT do that and to switch between applications instead… it’s mildly infuriating) so if you were to open a tab on them they would not even notice.

Arguably it’s not just elderly people, there’s a generation of people in the mobile and web era who don’t know how to use computers. I had a funny experience with this recently, when I gave a laptop to a teenager and his first (and insistent) question was, “How do I install my Android applications on it… could you connect it to the tablet via Bluetooth to install applications via Bluetooth?” and my answer was, “That’s not how computers work, kid”).

But perhaps those are not problems we can address easily with design, and that a file manager like Nautilus should assume minimum computer concepts literacy (like the notions of hierarchical filesystems, and tabs) and I’m overthinking this, hopefully. If Nautilus were to just open this into a new tab by default (like web browsers / websites typically do, in practice) without going out of its way to warn the user, personally as a power user I’d be happy with that, because it selfishly solves a productivity issue I encounter and I know I will never get confused by that behavior (on the contrary, it is less confusing than having some extra window open in the background each time, and that window becoming a home directory when you eject the drive from anywhere…).

Android seems to do well with their one app - one window approach. But there users don’t have the expectations of drag-and-dropping a file, which arguably is easier to do with two windows than with tabs.