How to Install and Make Nemo the Default File Manager in Ubuntu

This tutorial shows you how to install and use Nemo file manager in Ubuntu. You can also make Nemo the default file manager instead of Nautilus.

Nemo, the default file manager of Linux Mint is a fork of popular file manager Nautilus in Gnome. Linux Mint has improvised a few things in its distribution and two notables among them are Cinnamon and Nemo.

The latest version of Nautilus (also called Files) has not been liked by a significant number of users. It doesn’t have the status bar, no compact list view and more over the backspace key does not work anymore and you’ll have to use arrow keys to navigate.

These are some of the reasons why some advanced users prefer Nemo over Nautilus.

Unless you have a strong disliking of Nautilus/Files, you should not try to experiment like this with the default file manager. Changing an integral component may lead to conflicts and broken systems. If you are an advanced user who knows what’s he/she is doing, you may follow the rest of the tutorial.

Now that you have been warned, let’s see how to install Nemo File Manager in Ubuntu 16.04, 18.04 and other versions.

Installing Nemo file manager in Ubuntu Linux

Open the terminal (you can use Ctrl+Alt+T terminal shortcut in Ubuntu) and use the following command:

sudo apt install nemo

That’s it. It may take some time in downloading and installing Nemo, depending upon your internet speed.

Once installed you can see some icons on the desktop to access Nemo file manager. Mind that if you look for Nemo in Unity Dash, it will be shown as Files and not as Nemo. But you can distinguish between Nemo and Files (Nautilus) by the icons.

Nemo File Manager In Ubuntu 13.04

Once you have installed Nemo file manager in Ubuntu, you’ll see that Nautilus is still the primary file manager in the system.

Now, let’s see how can you make Nemo the default file manager in Ubuntu.

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Make Nemo default file manager in Ubuntu

Open the terminal and use the following command:

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

And then you can set up Nemo to handle the desktop completely with the following commands (in the given order):

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

gsettings set org.nemo.desktop show-desktop-icons true

The first command disables the handling of desktop by Nautilus and the second one enables Nemo to take its place.

You should also add nemo-desktop in the list of startup applications.

That’s it. You have just made Nemo the default file manager in Ubuntu. You can verify it by using xdg-open $HOME command in the terminal. The tutorial to make Nemo default file manager should also work with other versions of Ubuntu. 

How to remove Nemo and go back to Nautilus

I can understand if you don’t like Nemo in Ubuntu. While Nemo is a great choice for Linux Mint, using it in Ubuntu may lead to issue and it might not be the same experience as in Linux Mint.

So, if you want to remove Nemo and go back to using the default Nautilus/Files, here is what you need to do.

Make GNOME Files default again:

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

If you added Nemo in the startup applications, remove it from there.

Now you should enable Nautilus to draw desktop icons:

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

Now that you have gone back to using Nautilus, you probably also want to remove Nemo from Ubuntu. You can use the command below for removing Nemo:

sudo apt purge nemo nemo*
sudo apt autoremove

I hope this tutorial helped you to install Nemo on Ubuntu, make it default and even move back to Nautilus. If you have questions or suggestions, please leave a comment below.

About the author
Abhishek Prakash

Abhishek Prakash

Created It's FOSS 11 years ago to share my Linux adventures. Have a Master's degree in Engineering and years of IT industry experience. Huge fan of Agatha Christie detective mysteries 🕵️‍♂️

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