I use mostly command line tools, but sometimes browsing a directory tree is more easy using GUI. In PCManFM I could use the arrow keys to walk the tree and left arrow and right arrow would open a closed tree node (as did explorer on Windows XP).

Nautilus requires to use Return to open a directory if selected (using up and down) and I have not found a way to close using a key.

Is there a way to configure nautilus so I can do all navigation, in the left pane tree, with the arrow keys instead of using the mouse?

1 Answer 1


You can use the Shift key together with arrow keys to navigate through Nautilus.

Shift+ closes a unfolded directory (but does not go up the tree)

Shift+ opens a folded directory (but does not enter)

Using Alt with the left and right arrow keys walks through the history of accessed directories, but it does not do any folding/unfolding of the tree (and is always confusing me).

  • Did not know and it helps, but is there a way to do without having to use shift?
    – Tangi
    Commented Dec 10, 2013 at 10:04
  • Not via the preferences. I noticed the above by accident.
    – Zelda
    Commented Dec 10, 2013 at 10:26

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