How to Sort Files by Extension in Ubuntu Nautilus

ubuntu-sort-files-extension-featured

If you have been a long-time Ubuntu user, you have probably noticed the changes in Nautilus File manager relating to the ability to sort files by their extensions. The fact is the sort by “Type” feature in Nautilus has been revamped and simplified to the point that it is almost useless. Don’t understand what I mean?

Open your Nautilus and go to your Document folder. One thing you will notice is the “Arrange Items” option is missing from the context menu so you can’t easily sort your files/folders from the mouse’s right click.

nautilus-context-menu-arrange-items-option-missing

The way to sort your files is dependent on the View mode. In Icon mode, you have to go to “View -> By Type” to sort the files by type. In List mode, you can sort the items by clicking on the “Types” column header.

nautilus-sort-item-by-type

So you think the problem is solved? Well this is where the problem lies. For example, if you have multiple .pdf and .doc files, and you want to sort them according to their extension, you will be disappointed with the sort “By Type” option. It conveniently lumps all similar documents into groups and displays them in alphabetical order.

nautilus-document-type

From the image above, you can see that .docx and .pdf files are grouped under “Document.” This is the same for .txt and .csv extensions which are grouped under “Text” type. It is counter-inituitive in this case, and it would be more useful to be able to sort by extension.

A workaround for this is to make use of the MIME Type option in Nautilus. Here’s the fix:

1. In Nautilus, go to “Edit -> Preferences” followed by the “List Columns” tab. Check the box beside “MIME Type.” Close the Preferences window.

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2. Go to the folder where you want to sort your files, and make sure it is in List view. Next click the “MIME Type” column header to sort the files by MIME Type.

nautilus-sort-item-by-mime-type

That’s it. Your files should be sorted by their extension now.

Using Nemo as alternative file manager

For those who dislike this workaround, another method is to install Nemo and use it as a replacement for Nautilus. Nemo is a fork of Nautilus, and it is the default file manager in Cinnamon desktop.

You can easily install Nemo from Ubuntu Software Center, or alternatively, use the command below:

By default, Nemo has a column named “Detailed Type” (which is similar to the MIME Type in Nautilus) which you can easily click to sort the files by their extensions.

nemo-sort-item-by-detailed-type

In Icon mode, you can simply right click your mouse and arrange items by “Detailed Type” from the context menu. This makes it more user-friendly and easier for you to sort your files and folders.

nemo-arrange-item-icon-mode

Let us know if you have any other workaround to sort your files by extensions in Ubuntu.

Image credit: 2071785

5 comments

  1. Just goes to show that Ubuntu, update by update, has become a Linux version of Windows, and just like Windows, it keeps getting dumbed down with each new release.

    • While I am a long time Ubuntu (and Unity) user, sometimes, I just don’t understand the decisions made to “dumb down” the features, till the point that it is useless. Perhaps they are trimming it down so it is usable in mobile devices. Nevertheless, it can be frustrating at times when the features you are familiar with are gone in a new release.

    • In this case Ubuntu has been dumbed down more than Windows! Windows Explorer has already allowed sorting by file extension.

  2. “Perhaps they are trimming it down so it is usable in mobile devices.”
    Perhaps they are just trying to keep up with Microsoft? :-)
    Doesn’t Canonical have a version of Ubuntu for their phones already?

    “it can be frustrating at times when the features you are familiar with are gone in a new release.”
    Yes, it is frustrating, but THEY know better than us what we, the users, want and need. Reminds me of the attitude of a certain software company in the Northwest US>

  3. Install Thunar the XFCE file manager which is very fast and use Nemo when you need more capability.

Comments are closed.

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