Make Linux Mint’s Nemo the default file manager app on Pop!_OS and Ubuntu

I really like Nemo by the Linux Mint team – it’s the default file manager app included with Linux Mint, but it works great elsewhere too! I had been a long time (10+ years) user of Linux Mint and I realized that I kinda took Nemo for granted after I switched to Pop!_OS. I used its file management app, GNOME Files, for the first time and was not a fan. I’m not going to pile on with frustrations of GNOME Files (previously, and still sometimes known as “Nautilus”). It is a pretty intuitive app that is aesthetically pleasing and integrates very nicely with the GNOME desktop environment. My main beef, however, is the lack of features, giving it a “dumbed down” feeling. The context menu lacks options I expected after using Nemo and Windows File Explorer for many years, such as open as root/admin and show hidden files, which was a productivity killer for me. Nautilus also limits the ability to customize the left hand panel and arrange shortcuts and favorites – another feature I’ve grown accustomed to in Nemo and Windows File Explorer.

Enter Nemo – Linux Mint’s default file manager app, a fork of GNOME files, but has since diverged significantly into a very distinctly different application. Here’s a look at Nemo (left) and GNOME Files (right) side-by-side:

Nemo (left) and GNOME Files (right) running on Pop!_OS 22.04

GNOME Files is much more aesthetically pleasing in my opinion – I really like the integrated navigation controls and search bar in the window’s title bar. But what I really like about Nemo is the more “traditional” file manager layout, as this is what I find to be most conducive to productivity in my daily work. For this reason, I have made it my daily driver file manager app. Here’s how you can do the same in Pop!_OS, Ubunutu, or other Debian-based distros. Run command this command in your terminal:

sudo apt install nemo
Installing Nemo on Pop!_OS 22.04

And that’s it! All the big distros will have this app in their default software repositories because it’s awesome and they knew you might want to use it πŸ˜‰ But let’s go one step further and make Nemo the default file manager app for the OS so that it will be opened when any application or event requests the system open a file manager window. To do this, use the xdg-mime command, which manages file type handing:

xdg-mime default nemo.desktop inode/directory application/x-gnome-saved-search

To complete it, swap any folder shortcuts on the desktop to Nemo using the gsettings command:

gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.background show-desktop-icons false
gsettings set org.nemo.desktop show-desktop-icons true

And of course if you want to reverse everything, that can be done easily with these commands which will revert the deafult file manager settings and uninstall Nemo:

gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.background show-desktop-icons true
gsettings set org.nemo.desktop show-desktop-icons false
xdg-mime default nautilus.desktop inode/directory application/x-gnome-saved-search
sudo apt purge nemo nemo*

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