How to Run Nautilus Scripts
using FE 'ScriptApplicator'
Tk GUI's

How to run
Nautilus scripts
without the Nautilus
file manager!

FE = Freedom Environment

The file(s)-selector GUI of an
FE 'ScriptApplicator' utility.

Poke this image to
see the image in a
separate window or tab.

The 'Apply-a-Script' button
on this GUI brings up a 2nd
GUI by which to select a
Nautilus script to run, with
the selected files as input.

FE Home page >

FE Overview page >

How To Run Nautilus Scripts
via an FE 'ScriptApplicator' utility

! Note !
The 'feHandyTools' subsystem is deprecated.
It is replaced by the FE 'tkGooies' subsystem.

The ScriptApplicator utility of 'feHandyTools'
is replaced by the improved 'tkScriptApplicator' utility
in the 'FILEmanagers' toolchest of the 'tkGooies' system.

(Gnome2-to-Gnome3 agony)

There has been a lot of pulling of hair and knashing of teeth by Linux users --- especially users of Ubuntu and Gnome --- in the past several years (2010 to 2012) as the developers of Ubuntu and Gnome have re-worked their desktop environments and essentially 'thrown the baby out with the bathwater'.

One thing that I have found extremely useful is the capability of the Gnome2 'Nautilus' file manager to select files and apply a script to them --- scripts that can be kept in a hierarchical directory structure.

Unfortunately, as I point out at the bottom of the FE Contact page, it appears that the developers of the Ubuntu 'Unity' desktop environment and the Gnome3 desktop environment do not value the Nautilus-Scripts capability (developed for the Gnome2 desktop environment) very highly.

Their eforts are focused on making a bunch of pretty icons scroll across the 'desktop' of an iPad- or iPhone-like device.

It's nice to know that there is a group, started by a man in Argentina ('Perberos'), who has taken the code of some of the Gnome 2.3 utilities, including the Nautilus file manager, and they are engaged in preserving the capabilities of those utilities --- in what they call the MATE (MAH-tay) desktop environment.

Apparently Perberos and his growing band of helpers are concerned, like I am, that the Gnome3 developers are quite willing to throw away about 10 years of development (about 2000 to 2010) --- development that was responding nicely to user needs.

The set of 'forked' Gnome 2.3 utilities is called MATE --- named after a South American stimulant drink, like coffee.

You can see at the MATE web site that the new incarnation of Nautilus is to be called by the Spanish name 'Caja' --- which is 'Box' or 'Gift' in English.

It is good to know that the lead developer of the Linux Mint 'distro' --- 'Clem' = Clement Lefebvre --- was incorporating MATE in his releases of the Linux Mint distro --- starting with the MATE desktop environment as an alternative to the Gnome3 environment --- in a 2012 release of Linux Mint, Linux Mint 12 ('Lisa').

Hence there is some hope that the MATE project will not die out.

Furthermore, it is nice to know that MATE has made a big enough impact that there is a MATE page on Wikipedia.

And there seems to be some love shown toward MATE by the Arch Linux distro people --- one more encouraging sign that this might not be a flash in the pan.

    Another encouraging sign: Around 2014, a new flavor of Ubuntu --- Ubuntu MATE --- became an 'official' flavor of Ubuntu.

But just in case the MATE project does not make it (and the Gnome3 and Ubuntu developers --- and other Linux developers --- let the Nautilus Scripts capability die in their file managers), this page describes an alternative --- an FE 'ScriptApplicator' utility developed by using Tcl-Tk scripts for the GUI's and for the file navigation and file selection.

How that utility works is described below --- with screenshots.

FE Handy Tools (and 'tkGooies')
and its run-Nautilus-Scripts option :

The FE 'ScriptApplicator' capability was first presented in the 'feHandyTools' system around 2011.

    Note that the 'feHandyTools' system is no longer being developed. It has been replaced by the FE 'tkGooies' system, which includes a 'tkScriptApplicator' utility in the 'FILEmanagers' toolchest of the 'tkGooies' toolchest system.

Below is an image of the main menu ('toolchest') of the 'feHandyTools' system.

Note the option (toolchest 'drawer') labelled 'feNautilusScripts' near the bottom of the toolchest.

If you click on the 'feNautilusScripts' drawer, the following file navigator-and-selector GUI pops up.

Let us say that you navigate to a directory where you have some image files and you want to apply an image-processing script to one or more files in that directory.

Then you would select those files (using the Ctrl or Shift keys if needed to select more than one file) and click on the 'Apply-a-Script' button in the file-selector GUI.

Clicking on the 'Apply-a-Script' button causes the following 'script-selector' GUI to pop up --- positioned at the directory where your Nautilus scripts are located.

In this case, we have the 'feNautilusScripts' package installed at the usual location of Nautilus scripts for Gnome2 --- at


Using this script-selector GUI, we can navigate the subdirectory structure of 'feNautilusScripts' and select a script to run.

'feNautilusScripts' has a multi-level directory structure of more than 25 categories and sub-categories of scripts.

Some of the categories, like 'IMAGEtools' and 'VIDEOtools' have so many scripts in them that there are sub-categories within those major categories --- to keep the number of scripts in each category to no more than about 20 to 25.

    (This is mainly to keep the Nautilus scripts menus in the Nautilus file manager to a manageable size.

    With these file-scrolling FE GUI's, the number of scripts in each directory is not such an issue.)

In our hypothetical example of selecting some image files to process, we would typically navigate to the 'IMAGEtools' directory (as seen in the screenshot above) and choose a script from that directory --- or from one of its sub-directories.

Typically, for the FE 'IMAGEtools' scripts, the result of clicking on the 'UseIt' button would be a popup of a resultant image file in an image viewer, such as 'eog' (Eye of Gnome).

    In 'feNautilusScripts', the user can set their favorite 'helper' applications --- text-viewer, text-editor, image-viewer, image-editor, HTML-browser, animated-GIF-viewer, etc.

So there you have it. That is the way one can select some files and apply a script to them --- using a couple of Tcl-Tk GUI's in the FE (Freedom Environment) system.

A Performance note :

I have found that even though these two GUI's are presented using a scripting language (Tcl-Tk), not a compiled binary executable, they come up quickly --- even when they have to load many hundreds of filenames of a large directory.

Furthermore, navigation is quick --- seemingly quicker than with the Gnome2 Nautilus file manager, which is a compiled program.

I think this may be because, even though I usually run Nautilus in 'List mode' and with icon rendering of files turned off, Nautilus is still slowed down --- probably partly because of putting little 'generic' icon symbols beside each of the files.

A Couple of notes on the GUIs above :

Using a drawer in a toolchest of the 'tkGooies' (or the old 'feHandyTools') system is not the only way we could bring up the first of the 2 file-selector GUIs.

We could use a desktop icon (or Gnome 'top-panel' icon) to provide access to the underlying script that starts up the ScriptApplicator GUI's.

Then you will be able to startup the 'Nautilus-scripts-without-Nautilus' capability either via a desktop icon or via a drawer in the 'FILEmanagers' toolchest of the FE 'tkGooies' system.

Note that this 'Nautilus-scripts-without-Nautilus' capability is a 'Nautilus-scripts-with-Tcl/Tk-GUIs-instead-of-Nautilus' capability.

You may have noticed and wondered about the 'naro'-'wide'-'tall'-'short' buttons on the two file selector GUIs.

I have often been frustrated with how hard it is to 'grab' the edge or corner of a window and resize the window with the mouse cursor.

    It seems that as the resolution of computer monitors has increased, the desktop developers have not increased the width of the 'grab-edge' to be 'more pixels wide' --- in proportion to the screen resolution.

Getting the little arrow-indicator to popup (and stay popped up), to indicate that you have indeed made the grab, can be frustrating and a waste of time.

Since I had complete control of the programming of these GUIs, I made the 'naro'-'wide'-'tall'-'short' buttons so that I can simply 'stab' the buttons to resize the file selector boxes within the windows very quickly --- and with no frustration.

    I will probably be improving the resizing behavior of those buttons a little bit in the future.

Isn't open source software done with scripts wonderful? I certainly think so.

Even if I do not improve the behavior of the resizing buttons, you can do it yourself.

Summary and Conclusion :

Use of the 'tkGooies' and 'feNautilusScripts' systems together can be a good 'fallback' in case the various Linux file managers 'lose' the Nautilus-Scripts capability.

In fact, performance-wise, the 'tkGooies' and 'feNautilusScripts' systems may provide the kind of response time that people seek when they sing the praises of a 'light-weight' desktop or windowing system.

In any case, I feel comfortable that I have an 'ace in the hole' in case both Gnome-Nautilus and MATE-Caja go away --- or in case their maintainers jettison the 'select-file(s)-and-apply-a-script' capability.

A big thank you to the creator of the Tcl-Tk languages --- John Ousterhout --- and the many developers and maintainers of the 'wish' interpreter.

Long live open source and the many people willing to share the software they produce!

(I'm sharing mine --- the FE subsystems.)

FE tkGooies and FE Nautilus Scripts . . .
A Cure for what ails Ubuntu Unity and Gnome 3.

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How to Run Nautilus Scripts via
FE Script-Applicator GUI's

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Page history:

Page was created 2012 Mar 05.

Page was changed 2012 Apr 18.

Page was changed 2018 Aug 16.
(Added css and javascript to try to handle text-size for smartphones, esp. in portrait orientation.)

Page was changed 2019 Jul 23.
(Specified image widths in percents to size the images according to width of the browser window. Did some minor text reformatting for readability. Added some notes on 'tkGooies' replacing 'feHandyTools'.)