Controversial miller columns for Nautilus

oddly enough, one significant thing that got me over to Linux, from Windows, is file management. I just couldn’t bare anymore Windows’ file explorer…

I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a convenient and elegant file manager such as Nautilus before. but I’m really missing a column view. this is one thing I was really missing in Windows too. I downloaded Files at the time (the open source file manager project for windows), which was a good concept but I suppose, due to the OS limitations, was very lousy and unreliable.

I was very pumped with the idea that gnome allows me to pick my file manager so easily and reliably, but it turned out that out of all the options, there’s just one Linux supported file manager that has this feature (the native one of elementary os I think), but I don’t like its look very much.

is there a reason Nautilus can’t get a column view? I bet it’d looks so neat if the Gnome design team integrated such a feature, nevermind the convenience miller columns view offers for the user…

if there’s any way to get this view in the current version of Gnome (I’m using fedora), I’d appreciate any tips :slight_smile:

*screenshot of column view layout on the Mac’s Finder app


Sure, and you can check the existing closed bug about it: Implementing Miller Column Layout (like MacOS Finder) for Efficient Browsing (#27) · Issues · GNOME / Files · GitLab


  • it’s complicated
  • needs a lot of design
  • needs a lot of developer time

I’m not an expert, but I would like to remind all that under linux there are a lot of different flavors of File Managers, and it is very easy to install them, if you don’t like one you can try and investigate others, perhaps more suitable for each one of us.
A lot of the work is been made out pure volunteering/not-paid effort.
Having said this, yes, I also like the preview feature.

Hope this

sure you’re right. I did an extensive research before I got into Linux, on the file managers. out of the available options, there’s one and a half that support column view :sweat_smile:

there’s the elementary OS distro native file manager. unfortunately, I don’t really relate to the desktop environment and the file manager itself, looks very dated. doesn’t come near the neat look of Nautilus…

the other is some file manager that’s currently available in an alpha version. and there seem to be a profit company behind it meaning that it might cost money or have paid tiers in the future? not sure…

that’s why I was raising the issue here, I was hoping people would have tips for me, if someone knows how it can be achieved. if there’s any recommended programmes or add-ons :slight_smile:

I’ve seen that there are some text based file managers that offer tree view, that functions somewhat similarly but offer slightly worse UI. but I can superficially vouch that I’m a graphic designer and the looks and ease of use of a graphical UI are quite important to me. while I absolutely hate Mac, we’ve never got on, I quite appreciate the UI of Finder and was wondering if there’s something that provides an alternative experience to it on Linux

This can also be enabled in Preferences in GNOME Files.

do you mean something similar already exists in the native gnome files? or did I get your wrong?

Yes, look at Preferences, it’s the 2nd or 3rd toggle from the top.

ok thank you! I’d appreciate it very much if you could share a screenshot :slight_smile:

“Expandable Folders in List View”

is the option to select.

However it has an odd bug which makes using it to move files and folders tiring and unpleasant, so be aware.

This in development project is miller columns, rust, and relm4, and MIT.

looks interesting, I was trying it because I work all day with markdown and it was quite nice for browsing files.

I see! thank you. I’m afraid that this is more like tree view, rather than miller columns layout.

the vast majority of displays are wide, not tall. it makes far more sense to work horizontally rather than vertically, when it comes to viewing and arranging files.

this is quite a compromise, it isn’t as clear for me to use, as the good old column view :slight_smile: (identical to the one used in Mac’s Finder or the Elementary OS files app).

this feature integrated in Nautilus would be like the perfect marriage :sweat_smile: the usefulness if column view dressed in the neat aesthetics of Nautilus!

It is tree view. That’s what I was quoting you about.

you’re right. sorry for my misunderstanding.

just out of curiosity. it doesn’t currently seem that this feature is on the team’s agenda, and it shouldn’t be expected anytime soon, as I understand it?

You could also check out Ranger or LF.

They both use the column layout. Though they aren’t graphical but command line applications. Both have capabilities to preview files, even images and videos (you will need a terminal capable of displaying images). There are even tools like dragon or blobdrop that will allow you to use drag-and-drop

thank you for the recommendation! that’s even further than what I was hoping for though. I’d personally rather compromise for a graphical UI file manager that doesn’t support column view than a command line based one. I don’t find it very intuitive.

I take it you aren’t aware of an alternative with a neat graphic interface, that supports columns view?

No, I’m not familiar with any. I know KDE’s Dolphin used to have it, but it was removed because it was unmaintainable (I think).

interesting… wouldn’t think that this little feature is so complex. considering it’s existed for years on Mac.

well I hope someone might find a solution to it eventually. it seems to be quite a requested feature. I wish I knew how I could help but my understanding of programming is very limited.

With my latest work on nautilus view code, it wouldn’t be too hard to implement and maintain Miller columns anymore. At least not harder than the tree view is already!

But there is also the question of whether and how this would fit into the design of this application. It might end up requiring big changes to the whole application design and, as such, to code.

So, it’s not just about concatenating a few lists horizontally. That’s only the tip of the iceberg.

of course! I’d never dare think it’s just an easy fix. I’m sure an implementation of any new feature is a complex undertaking, nevermind debugging it afterwards. I’m sorry that I cannot contribute on the code side. I’d be happy to work on some design solutions though. if someone showed interest in teaming up. I can provide them in inkscape or as s figma file if that’s better :slight_smile:

When I switched from Mac OS to NixOS/Gnome, that was the biggest things I missed.
Now I’m using essentially the terminal in fact…