If you are new to Linux than most likely you are going to have to get to know a new file manager.
Coming from Windows you will have known the Explorer file manager. If you are migrating to a GNOME desktop you will need to get to know the Nautilus file manager.
This is a good thing because Nautilus is an outstanding, versatile, and user-friendly file manager.
One of the reasons you should take a moment to get to know this tool is that it is quite different from Explorer.
Although fundamentally you tackle the same tasks with both tools there are enough differences to confuse the new user. To this end, let's examine the ins and outs of the Nautilus file manager.
Unlike Explorer (and many other File Managers), Nautilus is a single-pane file manager. You can not change the view to split-pane mode or dual-pane mode. You get what you get...a single window showing you files and directories.
As you can see (in the image to the right) the Nautilus interface is very clean and simple. But your first thought might be, "How do I drag and drop a file into another directory?" We'll get to that in a moment.
Each time you double click on a directory a new window will open to that directory. You will then have two windows open. This makes dragging and dropping simple. Careful though, the default drag and drop action is not to copy but to move. So if you plan on copying a file from one window to the next you will have to right click the file (or directory) and select "Copy". To paste the file (or directory) you will go to the target directory and either click Edit and then click Paste or right click within the directory and select "Paste".
You can also switch from Icon or List view. In the image above you can see Nautilus in Icon mode. The image to the left shows Nautilus in List View mode. As you can see each directory can be expanded to reveal its contents.
But what about navigating directories? Normally, in Linux, you would scroll to the top of a directory and see an entry that was either ".." or "./" and you knew you could click (or double click) on this to navigate up one directory. In Nautilus you won't see this. Instead you will notice, in the bottom left corner, an dropdown that shows your current working directory. If you click that dropdown it will reveal all directories above the current working directory.The Image below and to the right shows this dropdown in action.
As you can see the gHacks directory is found in the /home/jlwallen/Pictures directory. You can open a new Nautilus window in any one of these directories by selecting the target from the dropdown.
Another way of quick navigation is the Places menu. If you click on that menu you will see a number of various directories. You can also add bookmarks to this menu by selecting the Add Bookmark entry from within the current working directory.
The nice thing about adding bookmarks is that they are then added to the Bookmark submenu in the Places menu on the GNOME Panel.
You can also edit your bookmarks by selecting Edit Bookmarks from within the "Places" Nautilus menu.
And of course there are plenty of configurations to undertake with Nautilus.
If you click the Edit menu you will see the Preferences entry. Click that to open the Preferences window where you will see six tabs: View, Behavior, Display, List Columns, Preview, and Media. One of the more important tabs is the Media tab. This is where you configure which applications will open different types of files.
The Nautilus file manager is an outstanding tool to manage your files and directories. Once you get used to the differences between this tool and your previous file manager, you will come to find Nautilus to be one outstanding utility.