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Ulauncher & Gnome Sushi: Spotlight like search and Quick Look like preview for Linux

Ulauncher application launcher for Linux

TL;DR

Ulauncher empowers Linux users with a powerful application launcher that works pretty much like Spotlight on macOS and Gnome sushi enables a simple preview functionality in Nautilus as we can find it in macOS’ Finder. This article shows you how everything is set up to get you going.

Powerful little helpers

The ones of you working with macOS know about its powerful little helpers that make working with it fast and enjoyable. Anyway, two of the very powerful helpers called Spotlight and Quick Look (space preview) do have their pendant in Linux but only a few people really know about it. Using Ulauncher and Gnome sushi we can get a user experience pretty close to what macOS delivers.

Ulauncher

Ulauncher is an application launcher for Linux that is called by simply hitting ctrl + space anywhere in the system. Ulauncher is not only an application launcher but can also be packed with quite useful features through Ulauncher extensions. Additionally one is free to add own commands to it making it a very powerful and versatile tool for everyday tasks.

Getting started with Ulauncher

To get started we add the packages to our repository and install ulauncher using apt.

For the first time, Ulauncher needs to be started from the application menu manually. For the next system start e tick the “Launch at Login” checkbox enabling us to start it automatically.

Enabling Ulauncher to launch at login

This is it we are already setup to use Ulauncher. Simply hit ctrl + space and the search bar appears on the screen.

Finding and starting an application from Ulauncher

At this moment we are only able to find and start applications or browsing our filesystem with “/” or “~*

Browsing the filesystem from Ulauncher

Finetuning your Ulauncher experience

To supercharge your Ulauncher with additional helpful features you can add your own shortcuts or just installed pre-built Ulauncher extensions.

Adding own shortcuts to Ulauncher

You can find a whole bunch of Ulauncher extensions under ext.ulauncher.io.

One very useful extension is the Ulauncher file search that uses fdfind to find specific files. To install Ulauncher file search we first install fd through apt:

And then add the extension to our Ulauncher:

Adding Ulauncher file search extension

To speed up our file search we set the base directory to search to our home folder:

Change the base directory to our home folder

Using the following prefix in Ulauncher we can no search our filesystem:

ff → File search
fd →File and directory search
fdir → Directory search

File search in Ulauncher
Directory search in Ulauncher

Gnome-Sushi

The second very useful application I want to mention is Gnome sushi a Quick Look-like preview for Nautilus, the default Gnome file explorer. The installation of Gnome sushi is fairly easy and can be done via apt.

People having trouble installing Gnome sushi from apt (shouldn’t be the case) can try to install it from source as described in the following GitLab issue:

For more convenience I copied the commands to do so here:

After installing Gnome sushi it can directly be used from Nautilus when clicking on a file and hitting the space bar to open the file preview:

Gnome sushi file preview

I hope I could help you to set up Ulauncher and Gnome sushi. If you liked this blog post, make sure to follow me and support my writing. Thanks for reading.

About the author

Remo Höppli is Co-Founder and Software Engineer at Earlybyte.

Earlybyte is an IT consultancy firm specialized in developing new digital solutions for companies around the world from digitalization to IoT solutions, close to the client and its business embracing agility.

Follow me on Twitter to get informed on new blog posts.

References

Ulauncher

Ulauncher File Search

Gnome Sushi

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Remo Hoeppli

Remo Hoeppli

Remo Höppli is co-founder and software engineer at Earlybyte. He is a technology enthusiast and minimalism advocate striving for simplicity and efficiency.

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