Nautilus gained an improved list view this weekend, as code implementing GtkColumnView arrived in the latest development builds of the file manager.

Switching from GtkTreeView (which remains available in GTK4) to this new version is said to offer a number of advantages, and offer ‘full feature parity’ with two (temporary) exceptions (that are being worked on in separate branches).

But putting that to one side, what benefits does this switch provide (besides a codebase that’s more malleable and modern)?

Well, say hello to rubber banding — at long last you can now select multiple files/folders in list view simply by dragging out with your mouse, just like you can in the icon view:

Rubber banding in Nautilus/Files 43 currently in development
Rubber banding, at last

There’s also space between each row and around it. This does more than make entries look more distinct from each other: it gives you some empty space to click in for rubber banding (see above), clicking to clear current selections, and somewhere to right-click to access the top level context menu.

Rows also highlight on hover, a behaviour the incumbent version of Files lacks. And it’s now possible to access sorting options while in list viewer, and per-folder sorting is finally shared with the grid view, nixing the inconsistency.

When searching for files in Nautilus, or accessing the ‘Recent‘ item from the sidebar, file names are are no longer impacted by the presence of the location column, providing room to show file size again.

Left: Nautilus 42; Right: Nautilus 43 (Dev)

Additionally, file location appears above the file name (so you’ll see know where files are located), while file names truncate (with ellipses) from the middle of the file name rather than the end. This means you can always see what file type something is as the file type extension at the end remains visible.

Subtle, but helpful, tweak

Last, but by no means least — or should that be list? — there’s a cute animation when you star a file:

starring animation in nautilus 43
A cute touch,

All looks pretty good, doesn’t it?

These list view changes are expected to ship as part of GNOME 43, which is due later this year. You can try things out ahead of then by installing the GNOME Nightly Flatpak remote and installing the Files development build from it.

Please keep in mind that this is under active development. Nothing shown here is “field ready” — yet. There are bugs, performance issues, and even some missing functionality. Everything will be in much better shape (and ready for wider testing) by the time of the GNOME 43 beta, due in August.

Dev News gnome GNOME 43 nautilus