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The type-ahead find feature was removed from Nautilus starting with version 3.6. Now when typing in a Nautilus (3.6+) window, it performs a search in the current directory and all subdirectories instead of selecting the file or folder that matches what you've typed.

This feature is not that bad except for one thing: searching in subdirectories makes it pretty much unusable at times. If you find this behaviour annoying, you can install Nautilus with a patch created by Amr Osman that allows disabling the recursive search so Nautilus only displays files and folders in the current directory, without looking in its subfolders.

The patch allows enabling/disabling recursive search in Nautilus via Dconf so you can easily switch between the two behaviors.

Here's an example:

Nautilus 3.8 with recursive search

Nautilus 3.8 without recursive search
In the example above, I was trying to find/select the genymotion-1.2.1_x64.bin file which I knew I had downloaded in the ~/Downloads folder. Using the default Nautilus 3.8 (Ubuntu Saucy), a lot of files show up when typing "gen" which is confusing and makes it harder to spot the file I was looking for. Using the patched Nautilus, only the genymotion folder and the genymotion-1.2.1_x64.bin file show up so I immediately spot the file I was looking for.

This may not be the best example, but I'm sure many of you have noticed how annoying the recursive search is in many situations.

If you prefer the old type-ahead find feature, unfortunately there's no way of getting it in Nautilus 3.6+, at least not yet. But there are some other alternatives, like downgrading to Nautilus 3.4, using Nemo file manager, etc.

Install Nautilus patched to allow enabling/disabling recursive search

To be able to disable recursive search in Nautilus 3.6 or 3.8, you can either patch Nautilus yourself - the patch can be found HERE, or use Amr Osman's PPA to install an already patched Nautilus.

To add the PPA (for Ubuntu 13.04 and 13.10) and upgrade Nautilus, use the following commands:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:dr3mro/personal
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

For Ubuntu 13.10, because there's a newer Nautilus version available in the repositories, you must force to install the version from the PPA using the following command:
sudo apt-get install nautilus=1:3.8.2-0ubuntu2+recursive3 nautilus-data=1:3.8.2-0ubuntu2+recursive3 gir1.2-nautilus-3.0=1:3.8.2-0ubuntu2+recursive3 libnautilus-extension1a=1:3.8.2-0ubuntu2+recursive3
And don't update Nautilus until you get updated PPA packages.

Once Nautilus is upgraded successfully, restart it:
nautilus -q

Then, disable recursive search using the following command:
gsettings set org.gnome.nautilus.preferences enable-recursive-search false

If later on you want to re-enable recursive search, use the command below:
gsettings set org.gnome.nautilus.preferences enable-recursive-search true

You can also change this setting via Dconf-editor (make sure dconf-tools is installed: "sudo apt-get install dconf-tools"), by navigating to: org > gnome > nautilus > preferences where you should find the "enable-recursive-search" option.