This issue was discussed here - https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/nautilus/+bug/990965

The problem is when a user right-clicks in the list view with mouse pointer in the row of the file, she expects the context menu specific to the file to open up. Instead what happens is the selected file gets deselected and context menu for the folder shows up instead.

As noted by someone in the thread -

Thank you for your bug report, no that's not a bug, before it was impossible to get the context menu in list view, now if you click on the text part of the row you will get the context menu for the item, if you click on an empty background part you will get the folder context menu.

My questions are -

  1. Is there an alternate solution that might make both the parties happy?
  2. If there is no alternate solution, how would one make it obvious to the user that she has to keep the pointer on the filename in order to get the proper context menu.
  • When you say, "keep the pointer on the file name" - you literally meant the characters that make up the file name? Just need to clarify.
    – Josh Bruce
    Mar 22, 2013 at 9:57
  • @JoshBruce yes, I mean that! Try it!
    – user13107
    Mar 22, 2013 at 15:44
  • Can you add screenshots of the two different menus? One when you right click over the characters in the file name, and one where are on the same "row" as the file name. I don't have Ubuntu; so, this is black water for me.
    – Josh Bruce
    Mar 22, 2013 at 16:38
  • Looking at the end of that thread, it looks like the issue with the selection being removed has been solved. Beyond that, having to right click on the text is how it works in Windows too (i.e. you have to right click on the text in order to trigger the context menu for that particular item). Clicking elsewhere on the row triggers the context menu for the entire list view.
    – Matt Obee
    Mar 22, 2013 at 16:43
  • Josh you don't need Ubuntu, you can compile this on pretty much any distro, plus there are RPM's & deb's
    – David
    Mar 22, 2013 at 18:47

1 Answer 1


Why don't we check Windows Explorer -- how MS people solved this?

In the Detailed View, each row is clickable and right-clickable as a whole: the filename, the whitespace, file type information, etc. You can get to the folder's context menu by right-clicking on the right margin, provided your window is wider than the columns with file details (which it usually is).

In the List View, the behavior is exactly like you described: only file names are clickable (+ small margins around each filename), whereas the whitespace brings up the folder's context. The way they avoid the confusion is by making a very explicit highlight around the file which you are hovering over. See the screenshot. Windows Explorer

In this picture my mouse is over LexCPP, and so I know that if I right-click I'll get the context of this file. If I move my mouse onto the whitespace, the highlight disappears so I know I won't get the context of any file.

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