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How to enable folder colors in Ubuntu-based Linux distributions

To make the Ubuntu default file manager easier to use, you can install a new feature called Folder's Color. Now you can better tell what's what in your file manager.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer
Woman typing on laptop.

One feature that I depend on heavily within Google Drive is the ability to change the color of specific folders. I've set certain colors for specific clients, so I can navigate within that directory structure more efficiently. 

By doing this I've made it so I don't even have to read folder names -- I just have to look for the color. 

It's far more efficient, especially if you work at a very demanding pace.

Fortunately, a Linux developer took a cue from such a feature and made it so that adding folder colors to the built-in file manager is quite easy. 

Also: How to organize your Google Drive with these 5 tips

The result of adding folder colors is that you can more quickly discern what folder is what.

How to enable folder colors in Ubuntu-based Linux distributions 

But how do you make this work? It's quite simple. Let me show you how.


One thing to keep in mind is that this feature only works with two Linux file managers, Caja and Nautilus. That means you'll need either the Mate or Gnome desktop environments. If you work with either one of those desktops, you should be able to add the Folder's Color feature. You'll also need a user with sudo privileges. 

That's it, let's add some color to your file manager.

1. Open a terminal window

Click your desktop menu (in Ubuntu Mate or Linux Mint with Mate) or Application Overview (in Ubuntu) and locate the terminal entry. If you're using Ubuntu, you can simply open the Application Overview, type terminal, and hit Enter on your keyboard.

The Application Overview search field in Ubuntu 22.10.

Opening a terminal window from the Ubuntu Application Overview.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

2. Add the required repository

To install Folder's Color, you must first add the required software repository, which can be done with the command shown below. 

Also: How to organize your Windows 11 Start menu with folders

You'll be prompted for your sudo password before the command can run.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:costales/folder-color

3. Install Folder's Color

With the repository added, you can then install Folder's Color with the command shown below.

sudo apt install folder-color -y

4. Restart Nautilus

If you're using Ubuntu, you'll need to restart Nautilus with the command shown below.

nautilus -q

5. Log out of Mate

If you're using either Linux Mint with Mate or Ubuntu Mate, log out of the desktop and log back in.

Changing a folder's color

To change a folder's color, right-click the folder in question and click Folder's Color from the pop-up menu.

The Nautilus right-click context menu now includes Folder's Color.

Changing the color of the Public folder in Ubuntu 22.10.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

From the resulting menu, select the color you want to use for the folder. 

Also: How to share folders to your network from Linux

You can also add an emblem to the folder to represent Important, In Progress, Favorite, Finished, or New.

The Folder Color sub-menu in Ubuntu 22.10.

There are a number of options available for Folder's Color.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

And that's all there is to it. You can now change the color of any folder in the file manager to make it even easier to find what you're looking for.

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