By default, Nautilus displays the pathbar, a series of buttons with directory names, to display the current location. Some users prefer to use a location bar, with the full path displayed. This page will show how to configure Nautilus to display locations using a location bar.
Nautilus can be configured to display the location bar for only a specific window, or for all windows.
To display the location bar for only the current session, simply push Ctrl+L. Other open windows will not be affected, and newly opened windows will continue to use the pathbar. You can switch back to the pathbar by pressing ESC while the cursor is on the location bar.
To always display the location bar, a setting must be changed in GConf (but see below for Ubuntu 11.10 and later). Get to a command-line and enter
Alternatively, the gconf-editor may be available in your menu through
Applications -> System Tools -> Configuration Editor
Once GConf Editor is open, double-click the apps folder. Scroll down and find the nautilus folder, double-click it, and then choose the preferences folder. On the right side, check the box beside the always_use_location_entry option. This will immediately change all open Nautilus windows, as well as any newly opened Nautilus windows, to always use the location bar. If you want to undo this change, simply un-check the box you previously checked.
Note that as from Ubuntu 11.10 the setting is no longer in gconf but has moved to dconf. It is necessary to install dconf-tools then run dconf-editor and the setting will be found in org ➜ gnome ➜ nautilus ➜ preferences ➜ always-use-location-entry
http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=77346 - The Ubuntu Forums thread from which this page was created.