Charlie Harvey

Gnome 3 Nautilus Tip — Make the Delete Key Delete Files

I recntly upgraded my desktop to Debian Wheezy — I like the description of it on the release page, which says Wheezy is currently in a state called testing. That means that things should not break as badly as in unstable or experimental distributions… Heh.

Anyhow, it ships with Gnome 3 rather than Gnome 2 as the default windowmanager. Which would be fine, as I switched to Xmonad a while back. It actually didn’t seem as terrible as I had been led to believe. Nevertheless, I had a bit of an annoyance using the Nautilus file manager. It used to be the case that pressing delete whilst one had a file selected would, you know, delete it. Now you have to press Ctrl-Delete for some unfathomable reason. It was easy enough to remap it to do something less silly. Here’s how.

  • First you need to run dconf-editor. I think it’s under system or something. But it’s easier to just open the terminal and type dconf-editor.
  • Open up org | gnome | desktop | interface
  • Tick the "can-change-accels" box, this means that you can mess with the default key bindings.
  • Then fire up Nautilus and select a file.
  • Up in the edit menu, locate select. It has Ctrl-Delete listed as its key.
  • Now press the Delete key twice. You need to press it twice. Dunno why. That should reassign the keybinding.
  • You might want to switch off "can-change-accels" so you don’t change your keybindings again.


  • Be respectful. You may want to read the comment guidelines before posting.
  • You can use Markdown syntax to format your comments. You can only use level 5 and 6 headings.
  • You can add class="your language" to code blocks to help highlight.js highlight them correctly.

Privacy note: This form will forward your IP address, user agent and referrer to the Akismet, StopForumSpam and Botscout spam filtering services. I don’t log these details. Those services will. I do log everything you type into the form. Full privacy statement.