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February 15, 2016

Fixing "send to" in Shotwell on Linux Mint Mate

I recently set up a ThinkPad T61 with Linx Mint 17 Mate for a long-time Mac OS user. I installed Shotwell as the photo manager. It is the default photo app in Ubuntu, and it seemed the closest to iPhoto due to its ability to organize photos by “events” (grouping by timestamp). I also installed Thunderbird as the email handler. But the Shotwell “send to” feature, which is supposed to allow the user to send a photo via Thunderbird, did not work.

The “send to” feature is supposed to work this way: you right-click on a photo, select “Send To”, and then a dialog box pops up that gives you the option to shrink the photo. When you press “OK”, a second dialog box is supposed to pop up that lets you decide where to send the photo: either to a file on a disk, or to your default email problem (Thunderbird in this case). But this second dialog box did not appear. Instead, an error message appeared saying that the nautilus-sendto program could not be found. This was an important clue to the fix. But first, some background.

Mate is a destop UI that was forked from the very popular Gnome 2 after Gnome moved to version 3 and a completely different look and feel. To avoid conflict with existing Gnome programs, the Mate equivalents were renamed. In Gnome, the file manager was called Nautilus; in Mate it is called Caja. The nautilus-sendto program is a helper program that runs the aforementioned second dialog that asks the user where to send a file. The equivalent to the missing nautilus-sendto in Mate is caja-sendto. So the fix to the Shotwell bug is to install caja-sendto, and then fool Shotwell into running caja-sendto instead of nautilus-sendto. This is done using the following commands in a terminal window:

sudo apt-get install caja-sendto
cd /usr/bin
sudo ln -s caja-sendto nautilus-sendto

After running these commands, Shotwell will now be able to send photos via Thunderbird using its “send to” feature.