File management

People have hundreds or thousands of times as many files on their computers now than they did when the basic hierarchical file system, file manager, and Open and Save dialogs were designed in the 1980s. And computers are now used by more people with a wider variety of skill levels. The old designs are increasingly unhelpful.

For example, we learned from David Richards a lot about how Largo city staff work with files. They:

  • have some two million documents on their system, going back to the 1980s
  • have trouble finding commmonly- or recently-used folders
  • have never created Places menu/sidebar shortcuts without training
  • don't understand the distinction between the file manager and the Open/Save dialogs
  • find the standard Open dialog useless for choosing a picture (to set as their desktop background, for example)
  • have trouble understanding "" for phrase searches

  • want to be able to print a document without opening an application, and want to be able to print multiple documents at once
  • barely understand zip files when they open in File Roller
  • don't understand file extensions (they try to convert a file from one format to another just by changing its extension)
  • use case-sensitive filenames with strange characters, which makes searching (and transferring files to CDs and Windows disks) harder
  • don't understand spatial Nautilus (so Dave he has set up browser mode)
  • do not know how to move files around (found from a review of support calls)
  • didn't know how to e-mail an open document, until an E-mail button was added to's toolbar.

At the User Experience Hackfest, discussions about solving these problems — and improving file management generally — followed three main themes:

Resources / Links / Etc


Miscellaneous ideas

Automatic citations

I download a great document from the web. Later, while I am working on my paper, I realize the document is very useful but I realize I don't know where I downloaded it from. And I need the URL for citing the paper. I would also like to check out the URL to see if the place I got it from to see if they have more, similar papers that would be useful for me.

It would be great if when I download a document, it stores metadata such as the URL it came from and where on the site it came from, the date downloaded, and maybe who downloaded it.

Smart List for Folders

When I'm in a folder, it would be cool if Nautilus had a pane where it suggested, based on the metadata/tags on the files already in the folder, other files on my harddrive that might be related and that I might want to drag into that folder. They do not live ni that folder unless I explicitly drag them in.


Allow users to check out/in files with Nautilus and warn other users if they try to check out the same file. See also for ideas of how we can make networking "just work" for normal users.


Events/Summit/2008/GUIHackfest/FileManagement (last edited 2013-11-25 17:49:13 by WilliamJonMcCann)