Mastering Nautilus File Search in Linux Desktop

GNOME’s Nautilus file manager is quite versatile.

Don’t believe me? Check out this article to see how you can tweak Nautilus to its full capability.

One of the overlooked Nautilus features is the file search. Not many Linux users utilize its full potential.

And that’s why I created this tutorial to share some tips on using the file search option in the Nautilus file manager.

I know that a seasoned Linux user can achieve the same with the find command in the terminal but using the GUI is preferable by many desktop users.

Let’s begin with the simplest of the search options.

Search for files by name

Open Nautilus and click on the magnifying glass on the top bar. This will open a search bar, where you can enter the query string.

As you type, the results will get refined and will match upon typing the full file name.

Click on the magnifying glass icon on top bar to start searching
Searching in Nautilus


Search is performed in the current directory and its subdirectories. You can enable the hidden file view to include hidden files in the search result.

Search files based on time

With Nautilus, you can filter your search according to the time the file was created, modified or last accessed.

For this, click on the search button and start typing. As you start typing, you will notice a drop-down menu near the search button. Click on it. This will give you a menu with options to filter your search.

Click on the dropdown menu for more search filters
Click on the Dropdown menu

Click on the “Select Dates” button on the drop-down menu. Also, select the option “File Name” to match by file name.

Select the dates section on the dropdown with
Setting for search by date

This will give you an expanded menu where you can select the date since which the file is created, modified or last accessed.

Set the date wise criterea for your search, like last modified, accessed etc.
Set the criteria

Here, if you want to set a custom date, click on the calendar icon as shown in the screenshot below:

Click on Calendar Icon to get a mini calendar
Click on Calendar Icon

Now, you will get a small calendar and can select the date accordingly.

Select the date required from the mini calendar
Select the Date

Once you set a date of your choice from the list, you can see the criteria applied on the search bar and files based on that condition are showed to you.

Date criteria is applied to your search, which is highlighted on the top bar
Date criteria applied

Search files based on file type

You can also filter your search based on file type. Let’s say you are looking for a PDF file.

As in the previous step, click on the search icon and start typing the name of the file. Now, from the drop-down menu, click on “Anything” option with “File Name” selected.

Search based on File type

Select the type of file you want to search from the expanded view. Here, I have selected “PDF/Postscript” option.

From the dropdown list of file types, select the file type you want
Set File type required

Once you have selected your required file type, you can see the criteria applied on the search bar. You’ll also see the result accordingly.

File type criteria applied on search, which is highlighted on the top bar
File Type Criteria applied

Didn’t find the desired file type in the search option? Scroll down to the bottom and click on “other types”.

Click on
Get More File Types

This will give you more file types.

More file types are listed as a dialog box, from which you can select one
More file types listed

Search into file content, not names

By default, the file search is performed on the name of the files. If you want to know if there are files that contain certain word, Nautilus allows you to do that as well.

First, click on the search icon and start typing. Now, as in the previous sections, go to the dropdown menu.

In the dropdown menu, instead of selecting “File Name”, select “Full Text”.

Now, you can search for a particular string and filter that search either based on a particular date or file type. The method for filtering is the same as mentioned in the previous sections.

Select “Full Text” option

Here, I have used a string “text to be” and you can see that several files with that particular string are listed. Also, you can see, that part is also highlighted.

Search only files or only folders

By default, Nautilus searches for both files and folders. You can refine your search to either files or folders.

To do this, on the drop-down menu, select “File Name” and then from the type list select either files or folders as shown below.

Search among only files or only folders
Search among only files or folders

This will filter out the results according to your choice.

Apply multiple filters

You can combine the date filter and type filter together to get a more refined search. For this, select each criteria from their respective dropdown list.

You can see, in the below screenshot, that I have searched for a file that contains the string “to be search”. The criteria I have applied is, a PDF file, created since1 day.

Applied multiple filters to the search action like PDF file type, created since a day and search by file content
Apply multiple filters

More Nautilus tips and tweaks

Nautilus is sufficient for most search scenarios. If you need more, there are dedicated GUI tools too that allow you to perform a desktop-wide, custom search.

ANGRYsearch – Quick Search GUI Tool for LinuxA search application is one of the most important tools you can have on your computer. Most are slow to indexes your system and find results. However, today we will be looking at an application that can display results as you type. Today, we will be looking at ANGRYsearch. What

Want more such Nautilus tips? How about opening files as root?

Open Files and Folders as Admin in Nautilus File ManagerLearn to add an “Open as Administrator” option in the right click context menu in Nautilus file manager in Ubuntu and other Linux distributions.

Or combining the power of terminal with the file manager?

Mix and Match Terminal With Nautilus File Manager in LinuxHere are a few tips and tweaks to save your time by combining the terminal and the file manager in Linux.

There are many more such tips in the article here. Feel free to check it out.

13 Ways to Tweak Nautilus File Manager in LinuxNautilus, aka GNOME Files, is a good file manager with plenty of features. You can further enhance your experience by using these extensions, tweaks and tips.

I hope you like these tips and they help improve your desktop Linux experience slightly better.

Do you know any other such cool tips? Do share it in the comments.

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