With extraction support in Nautilus, the next feature that I’ve implemented as part of my project is automatic decompression. While the name is a bit fancy, this feature is just about extracting archives instead of opening them in an archive manager. From the UI perspective, this only means a little change in the context menu:
Notice that only the “Open With <default_application>” menu item gets replaced. Archives can still be opened in other applications
Now why would you want to do this? The reason behind is to reduce working with files in a compressed format. Instead of opening the archive in a different application to take out some files, you can extract it all from the start and then interact with the files straight away from the file manager. Once the files are on your system, you can do anything that you could have done from an archive manager and more. For example, if you only wanted to extract a few files, you can just remove the rest.
One could argue that extracting an archive could take way longer than just opening it in an archive manager. While this can be true for very large compressed files, most of the times the process takes only a few seconds – about the same time it takes to open a different application. Moreover, if you just want to open a file inside the archive manager, the manager will first extract it to your disk anyway.
This might be a minor change in terms of code and added functionality, but it is quite important when it comes to how we interact with compressed files. For users that are not fond of it, we decided on adding a preference for disabling automatic decompression.
That’s pretty much it for extraction in Nautilus. Right now I’m polishing compression, so I’ll see you in my next post where I talk about it! As always, feedback, suggestions and ideas are much appreciated 🙂