Ade Malsasa Akbar contact
Senior author, Open Source enthusiast.
Monday, May 20, 2019 at 22:52

 (Nautilus and Nemo file managers)

We, desktop users, search our files with file managers. Search feature is so important we need it everyday. This short article compares the two famous file managers, Nautilus from GNOME and Nemo from Cinnamon, in their own search features. I compare things like Sorting feature, Advanced options, Bookmark, and several more, some with GIF animations. I will use versions of both that are available in Ubuntu 19.04 repository to present this comparison. Enjoy!

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I use these versions of both file managers on Ubuntu 19.04 "Disco Dingo". 
  • Nautilus 3.32
  • Nemo 3.8.5

Things compared

  • Button & Shortcut key
  • Default search
  • Speed
  • Information viewed
  • Instant search 
  • Sorting
  • Bookmark
  • Deep search

1. Button and shortcuts

Both Nemo and Nautilus accept either magnifier button or Ctrl+F to start search.

(Left: Nautilus, right: Nemo)

2. Default Search

Without making any change, here's the default results of "pdf" search keyword.

 (Nautilus: by default, it performs full text search, meaning, search through text contained in every file)

(Nemo: by default, it performs file name search, meaning, does not search through text in files)

3. Speed

Both are fast. And I love that.

(Gif animation: Nautilus: how fast it to find everything)

(Gif animation: Nemo: no less, it's also very fast to find anything)

4. Displayed information

Let's compare both results details.

(Nautilus: columns viewed are Name, Size, Location)

(Nemo: columns viewed are Name, Size, Type, and Location)

To add more columns is easy in both file managers like below:

 (Nautilus to add more columns: click reversed-triangle button > Visible Columns > a new dialog appears > give check mark to Column Name available)

 (Nemo to add more columns: right-click column > select one column name available)

5. Instant search

Nautilus does not need Find button to search, but Nemo does need, as Nautilus instantly search as we type. It's almost similar to incremental search we know in Google Web Search as suggestions appear instantly once we type.

(Gif animation: Nautilus does instant search once we type anything)

(Gif animation: Nemo does not have instant search, but file name selection instead)

6. Sort the result

Nautilus cannot sort the result in each column, but Nemo can, either ascending or descending. This is the biggest difference between the two. This is the reason I want to write this comparison.

 (Gif animation: Nautilus found png files and displayed the results in three columns; no column can be sorted as indicated by Keyboard Status Monitor)

 (Gif animation: Nemo found png files and displayed the results in four columns; every column can be sorted either ascending or descending; this helps to find latest or oldest files quickly)

7. Bookmark the result

Nautilus does not have bookmark feature for search results, but Nemo does have. It's a unique feature as usually we have bookmark for address to show on the left panel, it's new to have it for search result.

 (Nautilus: no saving search result)

(Nemo: save search result by clicking Star button)
(Nemo: call previous searches by pressing Up or Down key)

8. Deep search

Nautilus is better here. It has more options to enhance search as we like. This way, we can search a certain keyword for either Files only or Folders only. That's amazing! Unfortunately, Nemo does not have such options even in its Preferences menu.

(Nautilus: deep search based on Date and File Type)


Both searches are very quick. The differences are shortly these: Nautilus search does not have Sorting while Nemo's does have. On the other hand, Nautilus does have Deep Search while Nemo does not. And, Nautilus search can not be bookmarked, while Nemo's can.

Which one do you like better?

Personally, I like Nemo search better than Nautilus search as I need to sort everything I find and I cannot do that with Nautilus. I love sort by Date/Descending as I use it everyday.

Apparently, not only me saying this. I don't know why this once-existed feature removed in current versions of Nautilus, as normal interface provides sorting but search interface does not. I will not wonder if somebody ask "why not removing sort in the normal interface as well?" or such.

How about you?

This article is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.