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This Extension Lets You Quickly Browse Files & Folders in GNOME Shell

argonauta - a files view extension for GNOME Shell

A small extension with big appeal

I’m pretty happy with the GNOME Shell desktop Ubuntu switched to last October, but I do miss being able to quickly browse and open my files from the Unity Dash.

But I need miss it no more.

A new GNOME extension brings similar file view functionality to the GNOME Shell desktop.

Argonauta is files view extension for GNOME Shell

A quick press of the ‘applications‘ button at the bottom of the Ubuntu Dock launches a big full-screen interface from which I can browse through installed applications or search for them by name.

This overview won’t show me my files and folders. This is because Ubuntu doesn’t come with Tracker, a (rather resource hungry) file indexing engine, pre-installed.

So I’m excited by a new GNOME extension called Argonauta.

gnome shell file search extension

Argonauta lets me browse files and folders from the Activities overview in GNOME Shell without needing Tracker or any other file search tool installed.

It’s a timely creation. With a new Ubuntu LTS looming this extension could prove popular with users used to the Unity way of working.

Although not a strict file search tool for GNOME Shell (you can’t search for files by name) you can browse in and out of folders, open files, launch scripts and so on.

The files view is even styled like the GNOME Applications overview, complete with a set of tabs at the bottom for switching between your recent files, your home folder (or any other directory you wish), and files and folders you mark as favourites through the Files Views UI.

To trigger the files view you simple press super (aka the ‘windows key’) and f at the same time.

If you’d prefer something a little more integrated the extension has settings for a status area icon toggle, a dash/dock icon and a (customisable) hot corner.

You can right-click on any file or folder to access extra options, such as ‘open with…‘, add to favourites, copy to clipboard, and so on.

gnome shell file view extension

Sadly, as I said, the extension doesn’t let me search for files and folders by name. All searches performed in the File View simple default to the default GNOME search results (which on stock Ubuntu doesn’t include files or folders).

Key features:

  • Browse/navigate through directories
  • Right-click on folders to favourite, open, open in terminal, copy, etc
  • Right-click on files to favourite, open with…, run, etc
  • Tabbed interface to see:
    • Recent files/folders
    • Home folder/files
    • Favourite files/folders
  • Choose default directory to show
  • Optional top bar icon
  • Optional dock icon
  • Optional hot corner

Drawbacks & Caveats

Argonauta/Files View is primarily a way to quickly see your files and folders from within the GNOME Shell UI. It is not a Nautilus replacement. You cannot edit files from the overlay, nor create new folders.

Favouriting a file or a folder through the extension does not mark it as a favourite in Nautilus or any other file manager.

Install Argonauta / File View GNOME Shell Extension

You can install this extension on Ubuntu 17.10 or Ubuntu 18.04 LTS so long as you’re using the GNOME Shell desktop (it doesn’t work with Unity, MATE, Cinnamon, etc).

Argonauta has been submitted be to the GNOME Extensions website to make installation easy. Sadly it’s currently pending approval. Once checked as safe you will be be available to install it from here:

Install Argonauta/Files View from GNOME Extensions

For now you’ll need to download and install the Files View extension manually – but this is not difficult.

folder to install gnome extensions

  1. Download the code from Gitlab
  2. Extract the zip and rename the folder inside to ‘’
  3. Move the renamed folder to ~/. local/share/gnome-shell/extensions
  4. Restart GNOME Shell (press Alt + F2, enter ‘r’, hit enter)
  5. Use GNOME Tweaks to enable the Files View extension

With the extension installed and enabled you can press super + f to open the files view.

To change the default folder view, assign a different shortcut, or enable one of the additional access options you can access the extension’s settings by heading to GNOME Tweaks > Extensions > Argonauta and clicking on the cog icon.