You Got A Question? Ask    GNOME Community!

Comparing GNOME Files Search with a Web App Search

This post was made with an older stylesheet

GNOME in general suffers a lot when we come in the “search” part. Search for documentation, search for help, search for applications. ..well not really good. For now I want to focus a bit at Nautilus search, which has some so -I can’t get it- weaknesses.


What I am doing here, is to search in my Home Folder for “GNOME Shell”. Nautilus seems to return me 5 identical Files with no more info what’s the difference. In Nautilus 3.10 they added the “Open Item Location” option, but that doesn’t really solve the problem.

This is not a programming bug, this is not a design bug, this is clearly a logic bug. A simple solution is just to add a second link under the Filename that shows the location. Still not good enough.

Think an everyday scenario. A web developer wants to quickly open “index.php” file inside a specific Project Directory. Obviously if he searches for “index.php” it will return him 100s of results, so the above solution while is better than nothing, isn’t a gold one.

GNOME Files uses the Tracker Indexing Tool for indexing and searching files. Without having knowledge how Tracker works I am expecting to do pretty much the same as other Open Source Indexing Frameworks do, like correcting a typo, have Full Text Search and to offers terms as well as collate suggestions.

I’ll jump a bit in Ubuntu’s Unity which is the worse paradigm of search. You might only have 10 movies, but you have 20 search filters to search for those. How clever is this?  GNOME Shell on the other hand has absolutely not one filtering.

So do I suggest that Nautilus should add some kind of filters in its results? Absolutely not!


Here I am having an application that displays GNOME Themes (Shell, GTK+, Icons). If you search something it might bring you back results either from Icons and GTK+ Themes, both for GNOME 3.8 and 3.10 versions. If you want to filter results for example only for GNOME 3.10 GTK+ Themes, you can open the Filters Dialog.


So if we are searching for Elegance Theme for GNOME 3.10 the search bar by applying filters will be like


The truth is that we rarely need filters. Instead we should be able search for “Elegance 3.10” and the system should be clever enough to only brings results when 3.10 is defined in Theme Version Metadata and not in description.

Additionally what if we want to see all the themes that were upload today? Just type in search bar “today” and the system will bring results only from Today’s updated themes (as priority because today might exists in Theme Name). For GTK+ Themes that were uploaded today? Type “GTK Today”.


You can make a search like (“Tuesday June Icons 2013”) and see the Icon Themes that were updated at that date, or search by Username and even get the Themes that a user with that username has voted for. And all these come with a low cost in resources as long as we don’t talk for millions of records (or files in Desktop’s case).

Search isn’t about what results will bring back (that’s the easiest part – it can bring back everything :)), but in what way/order will display them. Searching is about sorting and semantic sorting (like favorites or with boosted terms) is also absent from Nautilus Search.

To end up, I wish to see soon GNOME Content Apps where I can type (“yesterday myfiles”) and brings back the “myfiles” I updated yesterday as a first results, with a recommendation for broader searching.

  We can't watch comments unless G+ provides an API or if you send a notification, e.g +World Of Gnome
     Sometimes is better to place your questions on GNOME Community
  • Domagoj Bet

    Unity certanly is not the worst paradigm. I am finding myself super productive on that environment with the awesome keyboard shortcuts, window tiling and switching options PLUS search that presents exactly what I want on my computer in no time with the very useful recent files and apps home page.
    And I’ve been using gnome for a couple of months but came back to unity. It’s just more efficient and does certain things better, IMHO. :-)

    • Remjg

      Too many shortcuts, that’s really the issue. If you don’t know them, you just can’t use Unity efficiently.

      But I must admit that file searching from the Overview is not that good with GNOME Shell even though it’s improving a lot. I liked the old behaviour of GNOME Shell 3.2 where it was only searching among the recent files (it satisfied almost all my needs at a small cost). But I use an extension for this now :

    • John Trolvolta

      Unit is a bad joke

  • hoschi

    What you’re talking about is not the file-browser Nautilus, it is what should become Zeitgeist (or Content App?). File-browser are about navigation, handling and finding-files and not searching. That the reason why everyone want Find-As-You-Type back, it allows for finding and navigation.