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If you’ve upgraded to Ubuntu 13.04, you may have noticed that its file manager, Nautilus, has lost some of its functionality. One of the glaring omissions in the 3.6x versions (the current is 3.6.3) is the Open With sub-menu when right-clicking a selected folder. Previously, you could use it to open a folder with a program, like Movie Player (now called Videos, though technically it’s totem) to open a folder full of video clips, or a folder full of pictures with Image Viewer (or eogEye Of Gnome – to be precise).

In this guide I’ll show you how to do both, but you can of course apply this to any program you want, as long as it has the ability to open a folder starting with the first file. In the case of Image Viewer, it will open the first file within the folder and continue to cycle through the rest as you use your arrow keys; in the case of Videos, it will open the media player with all videos from the selected folder in its playlist, in alphanumerical order.

To get around the missing Open With option, you will first need to install Nautilus Actions. To do so, run the following command in the terminal:

sudo apt-get install nautilus-actions

Once installed, you can use the Nautilus-Actions Configuration Tool to define your own actions (in Unity’s Dash menu, just start typing the name; in Gnome Classic, it will be in Applications > System Tools).

New Menu Item for Image Viewer:

In the Nautilus-Actions Configuration Tool, click the Define a new action button and name that action to what you want to appear in the menu (eg: Open with Image Viewer; whatever name you choose will also appear in the Context label: field in the first tab in the right-pane, Action).

Nautilus-Actions: Adding Image Viewer to Context Menu

Making sure that the new action is selected in the left-pane, in the right-pane go to the second tab – Command – where you define what that menu option will do. For the Path: enter eog (or the full path /usr/bin/eog), for Parameters: enter %b (for first basename), and finally for Working directory: enter %d (for first base directory). While there are a bunch of other tabs in the tool, that is all you should need to do.

Nautilus-Actions: Adding Image Viewer to Context Menu Step 2

If you want to add an icon for that menu option, you will see Icon: in the Action tab, where you can browse for an icon to use.

Nautilus-Actions Icon Chooser

Once you’re finished, click the Save button, and exit the tool. You will find your new action in the Nautilus-Actions actions sub-menu in your context menus.

Nautilus-Actions: Adding Image Viewer to Context Menu (DONE!)

(OPTIONAL: If you also want this action to appear in context menus for locations – in other words, not just the selected folder, but when you right-click an empty area of the folder you’re currently in – check the box next to Display item in location context menu in the Action tab)

New Menu Item for Movie Player (Videos):

In the Nautilus-Actions Configuration Tool, click the Define a new action button and name that action to what you want to appear in the menu (eg: Open with Movie Player or Play Movies in Folder; whatever name you choose will also appear in the Context label: field in the first tab in the right-pane, Action).

Nautilus-Actions: Adding Movie Player/Videos to Context Menu

Making sure that the new action is selected in the left-pane, in the right-pane go to the second tab – Command – where you define what that menu option will do. For the Path: enter totem (or the full path /usr/bin/totem), for Parameters: enter %b (for first basename), and finally for Working directory: enter %d (for first base directory). While there are a bunch of other tabs in the tool, that is all you should need to do.

Nautilus-Actions: Adding Movie Player/Videos to Context Menu Step 2

If you want to add an icon for that menu option, you will see Icon: in the Action tab, where you can browse for an icon to use.

Nautilus-Actions Icon Chooser

Once you’re finished, click the Save button, and exit the tool. You will find your new action in the Nautilus-Actions actions sub-menu in your context menus.

Nautilus-Actions: Adding Movie Player/Videos to Context Menu (DONE!)

(OPTIONAL: If you also want this action to appear in context menus for locations – in other words, not just the selected folder, but when you right-click an empty area of the folder you’re currently in – check the box next to Display item in location context menu in the Action tab).

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If you’ve upgraded to Ubuntu 13.04, you may have noticed that its file manager, Nautilus, has lost some of its functionality. One of the glaring omissions in the 3.6x versions (the current is 3.6.3) is the ability to open selected folders in their own windows.

Nautilus 3.6 Options for Selected Folders

Nautilus 3.6 Options for Selected Folders

Currently, the only options available when you right-click selected folders are to create a new folder containing whatever is selected, or to open them in new tabs. The Open option simply mimics the next option, which is to open them in new tabs. The only way at all to open another (single) folder in a new window is if you right-click the breadcrumb in the toolbar.

Right-clicking Pictures lets me choose to Open in New Window

Right-clicking Pictures while in a sub-folder lets me choose to “Open in New Window”

However, there is a way around this: Nautilus Actions. To install it, run the following command in the terminal:

sudo apt-get install nautilus-actions

Once installed, you can use the Nautilus-Actions Configuration Tool to define your own actions (in Unity’s Dash menu, just start typing the name; in Gnome Classic, it will be in Applications > System Tools).

Nautilus-Actions: Open in New Window

In the Nautilus-Actions Configuration Tool, click the Define a new action button and name that action to what you want to appear in the menu (eg: Open in New Window; whatever name you choose will also appear in the Context label: field in the first tab in the right-pane, Action).

Nautilus-Actions: Defining the Action

Making sure that the new action is selected in the left-pane, in the right-pane go to the second tab – Command – where you define what that menu option will do. For the Path: enter nautilus (or the full path /usr/bin/nautilus), for Parameters: enter %b (for first basename), and finally for Working directory: enter %d (for first base directory). While there are a bunch of other tabs in the tool, that is all you should need to do.

If you want to add an icon for that menu option, you will see Icon: in the Action tab, where you can browse for an icon to use.

Nautilus-Actions Icon Chooser

Once you’re finished, click the Save button, and exit the tool. You will find your new action in the Nautilus-Actions actions sub-menu in your context menus.

Nautilus-Actions: Open in New Window

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Up until Rhythmbox version 2.96 (the current version in Ubuntu 13.04 is 2.98), the bottom section of the left-hand pane where your devices and playlists are was reserved for the current album’s cover art. Since then, that has been removed and a much smaller version of the cover appears left of the song info in the top toolbar. While this is merely a cosmetic issue, and nothing to get too upset over, nonetheless it was pretty cool seeing a nice-sized picture of the cover appear at the bottom of the left pane.

Rhythmbox Art Display Plugin

But fret not, as there is a way to get this back, via the Cover art display plugin for Rhythmbox. And while it currently isn’t in the software repos for Raring Ringtail 13.04, I’ll show you how to get around that too, and install it easily.

First, you’ll need to add the plugins PPA to your software sources, which you can do by pasting the following command into the terminal:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:fossfreedom/rhythmbox-plugins

Once that’s done, update your software sources list with:

sudo apt-get update

Now to install the plugin (if there is a current version of the plugin that can be installed):

sudo apt-get install rhythmbox-plugin-artdisplay

If you’re informed that the package could not be found, it means there is still no version ready for 13.04, but this is no real problem, as we can just install the 12.10 version. To fix this, you’ll need to edit the Rhythmbox plugins sources list:

sudo gedit /etc/apt/sources.list.d/fossfreedom-rhythmbox-plugins-raring.list

… then copy the line that should be at the top of the file deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/fossfreedom/rhythmbox-plugins/ubuntu raring main and paste it at the bottom of the file, then replace “raring” with “quantal“. Once you’ve saved and closed the file, the sources list for plugins will specify to look for both 13.04 (Raring Ringtail) and 12.10 (Quantal Quetzal) versions, and when you sudo apt-get update again, all the available plugins will be listed in your package manager. You can then install this plugin and others via Ubuntu Software Center or Synaptic Package Manager, or just run the install command again (sudo apt-get install rhythmbox-plugin-artdisplay).

Once it’s installed, all you have to do is enable it. Go to Edit > Plugins and enable the Cover art display plugin. Your cover art should now be in the left pane, with the smaller one still in the toolbar near the song title.

If for some reason you don’t want the smaller cover in the toolbar any more (I say have both, but that’s up to your tastes), you can disable that by going to the View menu and un-checking Album Art.

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Note: If you’re reading this in Ubuntu 13.10 or above, and there is no current version after adding the PPA, edit the sources file accordingly, meaning substitute the word relating to your current version with that of the previous one. In other words, in Raring Ringtail 13.04 we had to replace “raring” with “quantal” for Quantal Quetzal 12.10, in Saucy Salamander 13.10 you would replace “saucy” with “raring“, and so forth (and if all fails, just replace that with “quantal“, which definitely has a version of the plugin).

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If you want to try the GnomeBaker disc writer as an alternative to Brasero, or already had it only to find it uninstalled when you upgraded Ubuntu to 12.10, there is no version for Quantal Quetzal, but you can nonetheless get it to install. Unfortunately, it isn’t as easy as just getting Synaptic Package Manager or Ubuntu Software Center to install it, as it won’t be found in the official repositories.

GnomeBaker CD/DVD Writer

First, you need to add the PPA, which you can do by running the following command in the terminal:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:gnomebaker/stable

Now you need to edit that source list:

sudo gedit /etc/apt/sources.list.d/gnomebaker.list

… and replace both instances of quantal with oneiric, then save/exit the file.

Next, run the following to update your software sources:

sudo apt-get update

… and then install GnomeBaker:

sudo apt-get install gnomebaker

You’ll now have GnomeBaker back on your system, or have a great alternative to Brasero if you’ve never used it before!

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A couple of years or so ago, Ubuntu‘s file manager, Nautilus, gave you the ability to “Safely Remove Drive” when right-clicking an attached USB hard drive (or flash drive), rather than just simply “Unmount” it. The difference between the two is that when you simply unmount a drive, it is still listed as attached (but not mounted) in Nautilus‘s left-pane. For many, seeing the drive completely removed was reassuring, since it could then be unplugged safe in the knowledge there would be no data loss, or physical damage to the device.

However, in the Ubuntu 12.10 upgrade, we lost this option, and now only have “Unmount” and “Eject” (which is exactly the same as “Unmount“, except in the case of CD/DVD drives where it will eject the disc tray).

Device Context-Menu

While “Safely Remove Drive” may yet make a return (it has caused a flood of complaints about this backward move), for now you can do it via the command-line if you really prefer this to simply unmounting.

First, if you’re unsure what the drive’s address is, run the following in the terminal:

mount|grep ^'/dev'

If you only have one internal hard drive, and no other storage devices attached, it should be something like /dev/sdb. To safely unmount and totally remove the drive, enter the following command, replacing /dev/sdb with your own drive’s designation if need be:

udisks --unmount /dev/sdb1 && udisks --detach /dev/sdb

You should now see your drive disappear from the file manager’s left-pane.

Note that in the unlikely event you have a partition other than the first partition on the drive mounting, you will need to change the “1” (ie: sdb1) in the command to reflect that.

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If you’ve installed a program for working with specific file types, you might find that Ubuntu‘s file manager Nautilus has no idea about it when you right-click a file and go to Open With, where a list of alternative programs to the default are presented. While in most cases that new app will be found when you choose Other Application… from the context menu, sometimes this isn’t the case.

Back in Gnome 2.x, if the program wasn’t listed, you could choose to add a custom application, which let you specify the command manually. However, this is no longer the case, but there should be another way to rectify this (see also the command-line interface method at the bottom).

In this example, we’ll look at getting Nautilus to recognise PDF Editor (pdfedit) as a viable program when right-clicking PDF documents, since the file manager doesn’t know it exists, and one can no longer just specify pdfedit as a custom command (at least via the GUI).

While you could be forgiven for thinking you’d need to hack a list of applications (for example, ~/.local/share/applications/mimeapps.list), the answer in fact lies in editing the .desktop file of the newly-installed program, and simply inserting three characters into it. Basically, this will allow Nautilus to add it to its context menu (actually, it specifies that the application can be passed a filename, which is what is missing).

All you need is the actual command that runs the program (e.g. pdfedit for PDF Editor), and you should be able to guess the .desktop file’s name (e.g. pdfedit.desktop), and open it for editing with the following command (replacing pdfedit with the appropriate name in your case):

gksudo gedit /usr/share/applications/pdfedit.desktop

(Note that the .desktop files should be in /usr/share/applications, but if not will be in ~/.local/share/applications, so change the path accordingly if you need to. Also, if you cannot correctly guess the .desktop file’s name, you can get the correct name by going to the folder and browsing for it).

[Desktop Entry]
Name=PDF Editor
Comment=PDF Editor
Exec=pdfedit
Icon=/usr/share/pdfedit/icon/pdfedit_logo.png
Type=Application
StartupNotify=false
Terminal=false
Categories=TextTools;Viewer;Graphics;Qt;

Find the Exec= line and you will see the command listed after it. Simply go to the end of the line, hit the spacebar, and add %f, so the line looks like:

Exec=pdfedit %f

(Once again, substitute your command’s name for pdfedit).

Simply save the file when exiting, and you shouldn’t even need to restart Nautilus, let alone log out or totally reboot. You should immediately see the desired program in the list of apps presented in Other Application…, and once you open a file with it, the app should be easily accessible in the list of secondary programs found in Open With.

If you want to make that program the new default for opening the particular filetype, you can now right-click one, choose Properties, go to the Open With tab, click on the app under Recommended Applications, and click the Set as default button.

CLI Method to Change Application & Set Default:

You can easily open a file with another application using the mimeopen command in the terminal. However, if the program isn’t already in the list of recommended applications, you’ll need to make it the default for that filetype first. Simply open a terminal in the folder where the file is and run a command like the following (substituting Recipes.pdf with the appropriate filename and filetype):

mimeopen -d Recipes.pdf

Please choose a default application for files of type application/pdf

1) GIMP Image Editor (gimp)
2) Adobe Reader 9 (AdobeReader)
3) Document Viewer (evince)
4) Other…

use application #4
use command: pdfedit

Simply choose the number that corresponds to Other… (in this case it’s 4), then type the command of the program after use command: (you probably won’t need to specify the path, but if it doesn’t work without it, it should be something like /usr/bin/pdfedit).

After that, you can switch default applications quite easily with the above command, or use the --ask option to just open the file in the desired app without changing the default (note there is no option to choose Other…, which is why you have to use the -d switch first):

mimeopen --ask Recipes.pdf

Please choose an application

1) pdfedit (pdfedit-usercreated-2)
2) GIMP Image Editor (gimp)
3) Adobe Reader 9 (AdobeReader)
4) Document Viewer (evince)

use application #

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That’s it – hopefully with either of the methods you’re not cursing Nautilus any more, and have more control of your filetypes than your file manager currently provides.

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Did this information make your day? Did it rescue you from hours of headache? Then please consider making a donation via PayPal, to buy me a donut, beer, or some fish’n’chips for my time and effort! Many thanks!

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