Screenshot of how this looks

If you like to play around with all sort of settings, you may have noticed that if you increase the zoom in Nautilus (Nautilus is GNOME’s file manager; ie., the window which opens when you go to Places -> Home Folder on a standard Ubuntu system) some additional information is displayed under the icons: the size of the file (or, if it’s a directory, the number of elements in it) and, with an even higher zoom level, the last modification date.

Some days ago I saw this idea on Brainstorm about displaying the file size even if the zoom is only 100%, and after finding out that this is actually already possible (but hidden in gconf) I decided to try it out and found it to actually be quite useful, so I decided to write a blog post about this.

How to enable this

Using the GUI:

  • Press Alt+F2 and execute “gconf-editor” using the “Run” dialogue.
  • Once in the configuration editor, expand the directories “apps” and “nautilus” and select “icon_view”.
  • Double-click on “captions” and in the values list move “size” before “none”. Finally, confirm the change and look at your desktop to see what happened :).

Edit: I’ve just been told that there is an option in Nautilus for this, under Edit -> Preferences -> Show. Thanks, Cubells!

The command line way:

To enable this: gconftool -s /apps/nautilus/icon_view/captions ‘[size,none,date_modified]’ -t list –list-type=string

Or, to undo the change: gconftool -s /apps/nautilus/icon_view/captions ‘[none,size,date_modified]’ -t list –list-type=string

What I don’t like about it

  • If you browse “network:///”, “0 bytes” is displayed below the icons there. I’ve already filed a bug about this.
  • I don’t like it that if the size information isn’t available for an item and it will never be (like those in “computer:///” or in network shares) “–” is displayed. It’s okay to show this temporarily when the user enters a directory with lots of files, where it takes some seconds to get the info for all of them and then it’s replaced by the actual value, but not if the information won’t be displayed at all.

By the way, if some Nautilus developer is reading this, please decrease the spacing that’s left between items! It’s way to excessive (eg., changing the zoom to 400%, only two columns are displayed on my 1440×900 screen, but four or five would fit without problem; with 100% zoom there could also fit at least one column more).