Search feature tweeks

I had to search for a file last night. New user naive to the interface.

Of course I put my search into the bar and got “no folder of that name”. So I removed all the / and got the same message.

Obviously and in retrospect, what I was looking for was the magnifying glass for file search at the end of the bar.

This is how I reacted to the interface…

[search] Inkscape
what the, where did these /inkscape/ slashes come from. I’ll delete them. Oh look they are back. Why can’t I search for a file?

“Clearly this user is in the idiot class of newbie.”

To me I read that magnifying glass as being what the line does and not an option.

And the hint is “search for files and folders” which is what that line is about.

I was going to suggest that it be got rid of in replaced with /something/ being a folder and something being everything else but I can see how that would perhaps create confusion.

I think something different is needed. I think this can be resolved with a hint. “Searches for folders, use the magnifying glass to search for files”. That would have save some confusion.

Further, because I was looking for “Inkscape” have a version install via the repo and one from a flatpak and a few directories with “Inkscape” install files. I was really looking to identify which of these “Inkscapes” was the flatpak install and what the path to that install was.

The returned results were many directories called “Inkscape” but no path for where these items were located. That required opening each in search to uncover the path. And as these were many, returning to the search results to try again. However the back button doesn’t return to the search and you need to rerun the query.

I don’t want to pick on something that is so clearly well developed and full featured. But perhaps consider the following…

  1. Add a hint (for new users) that the bar only search for directories and to use the search icon for a file search.

  2. Give the back button the power to return to the search.

  3. Add the path of the file in the search on a mouse over of the searched items.

1 being for newbies and 2 & 3 being more generally useful.

I think that would add a bit more polish to what is a very good file manager.

i came up against part of this exact scenario just yesterday.

searching for the file name kdeglobals will turn up several hits but nowhere in dolphin does it tell you the path to the file you have found until you click on it to open it.

a path listed along side each search result hit would have helped narrow down my search more quickly and/or ensured that i was editing the correct file.

and to avoid losing my search results, i was forced to right click on each hit and open it in a separate tab… but i shouldn’t have to do that… the search results should persist until i close the tab myself.

1 Like

Not sure I understand. The path to the file shows in the search results. Open the containing directory in, either new tab or window, is there without having to close the search result.
If I get it right, you want to click each search result and have an option to go right back to the search results with a go-back option? I believe clicking the back button three times gets you back to the search results after you opened a search in path.

1 Like

It’s a bit of a silly action really. So, you could make a servicemenu ( since dolphin is one of those few fm’s that still doesn’t have a customizable toolbar button) for that if you like. Depending what key shortcut you set for your go back action, something like this could be handy:

[Desktop Entry]

[Desktop Action GoBackSearch]
Name=Back To Search
Exec=xdotool key --repeat 3 alt+Left

That would highlight the file in a certain directory ( after show path) and an option to go back to the search results with a menu entry.

i think i see the problem.

the path column is not displayed as an installation default, so new users would not see it.

it can be added to the display by right clicking the column header and way down at the bottom of the pop up menu, there is a sub menu called “other” which includes the option to add the path column (along with several other essential linux bits).

i don’t know why this rather essential and normal column was not included by default or why it was buried obscurely at the bottom of the options, but that’s why it can be confusing for new users.


  • move “Path” out of “Other” sub-menu and list it on the main pop-up menu
  • make a different default layout for search results that shows the path
1 Like

Yes, that’s correct. You can add a few to the columnheaders. And yes, if you use “tooltips”, a file path could be useful. That being said, a customizable toolbar button or a servicemenu come in handy because: The context menu in dolphin search only highlights the file when you hit “open path”. It doesn’t when you hit “open in tab” or “open in window”. But let’s say you have two files which are very similar in name and they’re in a well fed directory. The column header won’t tell you which file is which, only the directory. Then the three times back function comes in handy. Easy find the (highlighted) file and easy back to search. So yes, path and go-back (to search) would be better off separately. I guess you could make two servicemenus for that, path and go-back.

I think something like the previous “go back to search” and this “open path” is a bit easier. This “open path” command will open the file, highlighted in a new foregrounded tab.

[Desktop Entry]

[Desktop Action OpenPath]
Name=Show me where it is…
Exec=dolphin --select “$(realpath %f)”

It’s a classic example of the difference between being familiar with the code/app or first time experience.

I never even thought to look for a path option even though I’d got into the dialogue and checked date modified.

I think that needs to be the default as well.

A hint and a change in the default would almost be job done. I do think the back button should return to the search or whatever the last thing was. That’s the user expectation of a back button.

Thanks, I think that was a decent discussion about a fairly minor thing but with an understanding of the why it matters to initial user experience. 10 stars to all of you!

1 Like

(I didn’t read the full thread so sorry if I missed something.)

  1. Add a hint (for new users) that the bar only search for directories and to use the search icon for a file search.

There are already plans for a better styling of the location bar that would make clear that the search icon is independent of the location bar. See

Someone has to put in the work and implement it though.

Normally I would say an additional hint isn’t needed but since Dolphin looks kind of similar to a internet browser, and internet browsers these days do allow to search for pages from the location bar, I guess I can see where you are coming from. It isn’t that easily explained though because one can actually search from the location bar. One can search by typing filenamesearch:?search=test&url=file:///home/ for example. The location bar in Dolphin is very powerful in many other ways as well.

  1. Give the back button the power to return to the search.

Totally agree with this one. I mentioned this as being a deficiency in various places. Here for example: Draft: Bug-456447 (!442) · Merge requests · System / Dolphin · GitLab

Again, this is something where developers/new contributors could have a huge impact. It is probably somewhat difficult to implement this correctly though.

  1. Add the path of the file in the search on a mouse over of the searched items.

This one is actually sort of in progress. We actually already show the path to the folder as its own column “by default”, if one has selected the setting “remember view properties for each folder” in the Dolphin settings dialog. However this setting is not the default currently, so in practice people don’t get the column showing the path of the search results. We do plan on making the “remember view properties for each folder” the default though, but to enable this, we are first getting rid of the issue that this setting scatters .directory files all over your file system. This is currently being worked on, but it is quite a fundamental change and might take a few more month to go in. Once that is done we can make it the default and then this third issue will be resolved.

1 Like

For a good while I made some adaptations and servicemenus for the search function in Dolphin and used a pdfgrep ( yad ui) based script to search in pdf’s, a function I often need. But then it dawned to me that nowadays Catfish can do it all. I don’t care much 'bout stuff like “back button return to search” ( my take on it in a servicemenu works better overall imo) but as long as dolphin search is restricted I prefer my search functionality bundled in one tool. For now, Catfish does what it says on the tin. And I couldn’t care less if it’s gtk.