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documentation.suse.com / SUSE Linux Enterprise Server Documentation / GNOME User Guide / Introduction / Working with your desktop
Applies to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 15 SP3

2 Working with your desktop

In this chapter you will learn how to work with files and burn CDs. You will also find out how to perform regular tasks with your desktop.

2.1 Managing files and directories

To start GNOME Files open the Activities Overview by pressing Meta and search for files.

File manager
Figure 2.1: File manager

The elements of the GNOME Files window include the following:


The toolbar contains back and forward buttons, the path bar, a search function, elements to let you change the layout of the content area, and the application menu.


The menu is the last icon on the toolbar. It lets you perform many tasks, such as opening the preferences dialog, creating a new directory or opening a new window or tab.


The sidebar lets you navigate between often-used directories and external or network storage devices. To display or hide the sidebar, press F9.

Content area

Displays files and directories.

Use the icons in the top right part of the window to switch between list and grid icon view.

Context menus

Open a context menu by right-clicking inside the content area. The items in this menu depend on where you right-click.

For example, if you right-click a file or directory, you can select items related to the file or directory. If you right-click the background of a content area, you can select items related to the display of items in the content area.

Floating statusbar

The floating statusbar appears when a file is selected. It displays the file name and size.

2.1.1 Key combinations

The following table lists a selection of key combinations of GNOME Files.

Table 2.1: GNOME Files key combinations

Key Combination


Alt/ Alt

Go backward/go forward.


Open the parent directory.

, , ,

Select an item.

Alt or Enter

Open an item.


Open an item's Properties dialog.


Open an item and close the current directory.


Transform the path bar from a button view to a text box.

Exit this mode by pressing Enter (go to the location) or Esc (to remain in the current directory).

The path bar supports the URI schema and can be used to connect to remote servers via FTP, SFTP, SSH, SMB and other protocols. For example, use ftp://tux@ftp.example.tld to connect to an FTP server ftp.example.tld with the user name tux.


Transform the path bar from a button view to a text box and replace the current path with /.


Open your home directory.

Any number or letter key

Start a search within the current directories and their subdirectories. The character you pressed is used as the first character of the search term. Search happens as you type, you do not need to press Enter.


Start a search within the current directories and their subdirectories. The character you pressed is used as the first character of the search term. Search happens as you type, you do not need to press Enter.


Moves the selected file or directory to the trash, from which it can be restored with Undo.

2.1.2 Compressing files or directories

Sometimes, it is useful to archive or compress files, for example:

  • You want to attach an entire directory, including its subdirectories, to an e-mail.

  • You want to attach a large file to an e-mail.

  • You want to save space on your hard disk and have files you rarely use.

In all these cases, you can create a compressed file, such as a ZIP file, which can contain multiple original files. How much smaller the compressed version is than the original depends on the file type. Many video, image and office document formats are already compressed and will only become marginally smaller.

  1. In the GNOME Files content area, right-click the directory you want to archive, then click Compress.

  2. Accept the default archive file name or provide a new one.

  3. Select a file extension from the drop-down box.

    • .zip files are supported on most operating systems, including Windows*.

    • .tar.gz files are compatible with most Linux* and Unix* systems.

    • .7z files usually offer better compression ratios than other formats, but are not as widely supported.

  4. Specify a location for the archive file, then click Create.

To extract an archived file, right-click the file, then select Extract Here. You can also double-click the compressed file to open it and see which files are included.

For more information on compressed files, see Section 2.10, “Creating, displaying, and decompressing archives”.

2.1.3 Burning a CD/DVD

If your system has a CD or DVD writer, you can use GNOME Files to burn CDs and DVDs. If you want to burn an audio CD or need more control over the result, see Chapter 19, Brasero: burning CDs and DVDs.

  1. Open GNOME Files.

  2. Insert a blank medium.

  3. Find the files you want to add to the medium and drag them to the sidebar item called Blank CD-R Disc. (The label may read slightly differently, depending on the type of medium you inserted.) When your mouse pointer is over the sidebar item, a small + should appear next to the pointer.

  4. When you have dragged all files onto the sidebar item Blank CD-R Disc, click it.

  5. Provide a name next to Disc Name or keep the proposal.

  6. Click Write to Disc.

  7. In the appearing dialog CD/DVD Creator, make sure the right medium is selected. Then click Burn.

    The files are burned to the disc. This can take a few minutes, depending on the amount of data being burned and the speed of your burner.

  8. After the medium has been burned, it will be ejected from the drive. In the window CD/DVD Creator, you can click Close.

To burn an ISO disc image, first insert a medium, then double-click the ISO file in GNOME Files. In the dialog Image Burning Setup, click Burn.

2.1.4 Creating a bookmark

Use the bookmarks feature in GNOME Files to quickly jump to your favorite directories from the sidebar.

  1. Switch to the directory for which you want to create a bookmark in the content area.

  2. Click the list icon, then select Bookmark this Location from the menu.

    The bookmark now appears in the sidebar, with the directory name as the bookmark name.

  3. (Optional) If you want, you can change the name of the bookmark. This does not affect the name of the bookmarked directory itself. To change the name, right-click the new sidebar item and select Rename.

  4. (Optional) If you want, you can change the order in which the bookmarks are displayed. To reorder, click a bookmark and drag it to the desired location.

To switch to a bookmarked directory, click the appropriate sidebar item.

2.1.5 Accessing remote files

You can use GNOME Files to access files on remote servers. For more information, see Chapter 5, Accessing network resources.

2.2 Accessing removable media

To access CDs/DVDs or flash disks, insert or attach the medium. An icon for the medium is automatically created on the desktop. For many types of removable media, a GNOME Files window pops up automatically. If GNOME Files does not open, double-click the icon for that drive on the desktop to view the contents. In GNOME Files, you will see an item for the medium in the sidebar.

Warning: Unmount to prevent data loss

Do not physically remove flash disks immediately after using them. Even when the system does not indicate that data is being written, the drive may not be finished with a previous operation.

In the sidebar of GNOME Files, click the Eject icon next to the medium to safely remove or unmount the drive.

2.3 Searching for files

There are multiple ways to search for files or directories. In all cases, the search will be performed on file and directory names. Searching by file size, modification date and other properties is only partially possible in the preinstalled graphical tools. Such searches are easier to do on the command line.

Using GNOME Files

In GNOME Files, navigate to the directory from which you want to start the search. Then start typing the search term. To search for objects with a certain modification date or file type, click the arrow-down icon of the search box and modify the properties.

Using the Activities Overview

Open the Activities Overview by pressing Meta. Then start typing the search term. The search will be performed within your home directory.

2.4 Copying text between applications

Copy and paste works the same as in other operating systems. First select the text, so that it appears highlighted, usually in blue. Then press CtrlC. Now move the keyboard focus to the right position. Finally, to insert the text, press CtrlV.

To copy or paste in the terminal, additionally press Shift together with the above key combinations.

An alternative way of using copy and paste is described in the following. First select the text. To paste the text, middle-click over the position where you want the text to be pasted. As soon as you make another selection, the text from the original selection will be replaced in the clipboard.

When copying information between programs, you must keep the source program open and paste the text before closing it. When a program closes, any content from that application that is on the clipboard is lost.

2.5 Managing Internet connections

To surf the Web or send and receive e-mail messages, you must have configured an Internet connection. If you have installed SUSE Linux Enterprise Server on a laptop or a mobile device, NetworkManager is enabled by default. On the GNOME desktop, you can then establish Internet connections with NetworkManager as described in Section 26.3, “Configuring network connections”.

Depending on your environment, you can choose in YaST which basic service to use for setting up network connections (either NetworkManager or wicked). For details, see Section, “Configuring global networking options”.

2.6 Exploring the Internet

The GNOME desktop includes Firefox, a Mozilla*-based Web browser. You can start it by opening the Activities Overview by pressing Meta and typing fire.

You can type an address into the location bar at the top or click links in a page to move to different pages, like in any other Web browser.

For more information, see Chapter 13, Firefox: browsing the Web.

2.7 E-mail and scheduling

For reading and managing your mail and events, use Evolution. Evolution is a groupware program that makes it easy to store, organize and retrieve your personal information.

Evolution seamlessly combines e-mail, a calendar, an address book, and a memo and task list in one easy-to-use application. With its extensive support for communications and data interchange standards, Evolution can work with existing corporate networks and applications, including Microsoft* Exchange.


To start Evolution, open the Activities Overview by pressing Meta and type mail.

The first time you start Evolution, it prompts you with a few questions to set up a mail account and import mail from an old mail client. Then it shows you how many new messages you have and lists upcoming appointments and tasks. The calendar, address book and mail tools are available in the shortcut bar on the left.

For more information, see Chapter 14, Evolution: e-mailing and calendaring.

2.8 Opening or creating documents with LibreOffice

For creating and editing documents, LibreOffice is installed with the GNOME desktop. LibreOffice is a complete set of office tools that can both read and save Microsoft Office file formats. LibreOffice has a word processor, a spreadsheet, a database, a drawing tool and a presentation program.

To start LibreOffice open the Activities Overview by pressing Meta and type libre.

For more information, see Chapter 9, LibreOffice: the office suite.

2.9 Controlling your desktop’s power management

To see the state of the computer battery on your laptop, check the battery icon in the right part of the panel. On certain events, such as a critically low battery state, GNOME will display notifications informing you about the event.

You can open the power settings by opening the Activities Overview by pressing Meta and typing power. Now choose Settings › Power from the results.

For more information, see Section 3.6, “Configuring power settings”.

2.10 Creating, displaying, and decompressing archives

You can use the Archive Manager application (also known as File Roller) to create, view, modify or unpack an archive. An archive is a file that acts as a container for other files. An archive can contain many files, directories and subdirectories, usually in compressed form. Archive Manager supports common formats such as zip, tar.gz, tar.bz2, lzh, and rar. You can use Archive Manager to create, open and extract a compressed non-archive file.

To start Archive Manager open the Activities Overview by pressing Meta and type arch.

If you already have a compressed file, double-click the file name in GNOME Files to view the contents of the archive in Archive Manager.

Archive manager
Figure 2.2: Archive manager

2.10.1 Opening an archive

  1. In Archive Manager, click Open.

  2. Select the archive you want to open.

  3. Click Open.

    Archive Manager displays the following:

    • The archive name in the titlebar.

    • The archive contents in the content area.

    To open another archive, click Open again. Archive Manager opens each archive in a new window. To open another archive in the same window, you must first select Close from the menu in the right part of the window to close the current archive, then click Open.

    If you try to open an archive that was created in a format that Archive Manager does not recognize, the application displays an error message.

  4. To display the archive's properties, click the last icon in the titlebar and select Properties. Details like name, location, type, last modification, number of files, size, and compression ratio are shown.

2.10.2 Extracting files from an archive

  1. In Archive Manager, select the files that you want to extract.

  2. Click Extract.

  3. Specify the directory where Archive Manager will extract the files.

  4. Choose from the following extraction options:



    All files

    Extracts all files from the archive.

    Selected files

    Extracts the selected files from the archive.


    Extracts from the archive all files that match the specified pattern.

    Keep directory structure

    Reconstructs the directory structure when extracting the specified files.

    For example, you specify /tmp in the Filename text box and extract all files. The archive contains a subdirectory called doc. If you select the Keep directory structure option, Archive Manager extracts the contents of the subdirectory to /tmp/doc.

    If you do not select the Keep directory structure option, Archive Manager does not create any subdirectories. Instead, it extracts all files from the archive, including files from subdirectories, to /tmp.

    Do not overwrite newer files

    If not active, the Archive Manager overwrites any files in the destination directory that have the same name as the specified files.

    If you select this option, Archive Manager does not extract the specified file if an existing file with the same name already exists in the destination directory.

  5. Click Extract.

    To extract an archived file in a file manager window without opening Archive Manager, right-click the file and select Extract Here.

    The Extract operation extracts a copy of the specified files from the archive. The extracted files have the same permissions and modification date as the original files that were added to the archive.

    The Extract operation does not change the contents of the archive.

2.10.3 Creating archives

  1. In Archive Manager, click the main menu icon in the top left part of the window and select New Archive.

  2. Specify the name and location of the new archive.

  3. Select an archive type from the drop-down box.

  4. Click Create.

    Archive Manager creates an empty archive, but does not yet write the archive to disk. Archive Manager writes a new archive to disk only when the archive contains at least one file. If you create a new archive and quit Archive Manager before you add any files to the archive, the archive will be deleted.

  5. Add files and directories to the new archive:

    1. Click Add Files and select the files or directories you want to add.

    2. Click Add.

      Archive Manager adds the files to the current directory in the archive.

You can also add files to an archive in a file manager window without opening Archive Manager. See Section 2.1.2, “Compressing files or directories” for more information.

2.11 Taking screenshots

You can take a snapshot of your screen or of an individual application window by using the Take Screenshots utility. Start it by pressing Print to take a screenshot of the entire desktop or by pressing AltPrint to take a screenshot of the currently active window or dialog.

The screenshots are automatically saved to your ~/Pictures directory.

You can also use GIMP to take screenshots. (For more information on GIMP, see Chapter 17, GIMP: manipulating graphics). In GIMP, click File › Create › Screenshot, select an area, choose a delay and then click Snap.

2.12 Viewing PDF files

Documents that need to be shared or printed across platforms can be saved as PDF (Portable Document Format) files. Document Viewer (also known as Evince) can open PDF files and many similar file types, such as XPS, DjVu, or TIFF.

Note: Rare display issues

In rare cases, documents will not be displayed correctly in Document Viewer. This can happen, for example, with certain forms, animations or 3D images. In such cases, ask the authors of the file what viewer they recommend. However, in some cases the recommended viewer will not work on Linux.

Document viewer
Figure 2.3: Document viewer

To open Document Viewer, double-click a PDF file in a file manager window. Document Viewer will also open when you download a PDF file from a Web site. To open Document Viewer without a file, open the Activities Overview by pressing Meta and type pdf.

To view a PDF file in Document Viewer, click the cog wheel icon to open the menu and select Open. Now locate the desired PDF file and click Open.

Use the navigation icons at the top of the window or the thumbnails in the left panel to navigate through the document. If your PDF document provides bookmarks, you can access them in the left panel of the viewer.

2.13 Obtaining software updates

When you connect to the Internet, the updater applet automatically checks whether software updates for your system are available. When important updates are available, you will receive a notification on your desktop.

For detailed information on how to install software updates with the updater applet and how to configure it, refer to the chapter about installing and removing software in Section 21.5, “The GNOME package updater”.

2.14 More information

Along with the applications described in this chapter for getting started, you can use many other applications on GNOME. Find detailed information about these applications in the other parts of this manual.

To learn more about GNOME and GNOME applications, see http://www.gnome.org.

To report bugs or add feature requests, go to http://bugzilla.gnome.org.