One of the pieces of software you use daily is a file manager. A good file manager is essential to your work. If you are a Linux user and want to try out file managers other than the default one that comes with your system, below is a list of the best Linux file managers you will find.
What Is a File Manager?
Let’s start with a definition first to make sure we are on the same page. A file manager is a computer application that you can access and manage the files and documents stored on your hard disk. In Windows this application is called Windows Explorer, and in macOS, Finder. In Linux there is no one standardized file manager application for all distributions. These are some of the best Linux File managers.
Nautilus, now renamed to GNOME Files, is the standard file manager of the GNOME desktop environment. Since GNOME is a very popular desktop environment, this automatically means Nautilus is also among the most used file managers. One of the key features of Nautilus is that it’s clean and simple to use, while still offering all the basic functionality of a file manager, as well as the ability to browse remote files. This is a file manager suitable for novices and everybody who values minimalism and simplicity. If the default functionality is too limiting for you, you can extend it with the help of plugins.
Dolphin File Manager is the KDE counterpart of Nautilus. Similarly to Nautilus, it is intended to be simple to use while also leaving room for customization. Split view and multitabs, as well as dockable panels, are among its core features. You can use Dolphin to browse both local and remote files across the network. For some operations Dolphin offers undo/redo functionality, which is pretty handy for those of us who have (too) quick fingers. If the default functionality of Dolphin is not enough, plugins come to the rescue.
Thunar might not be as popular as Nautilus or Dolphin, but I personally like it more. It’s the file manager I use on a daily basis. Thunar is the default file manager for the Xfce Desktop Environment, but you can use it with other environments as well. Similarly to Nautilus and Dolphin, Thunar is lightweight, fast, and easy to use. For an old computer, Thunar is probably the best file manager. It is a relatively simple file manager without tons of fancy (and useless) features, but again, it has plugins to extend the default functionality, if this is needed.
Nemo is a fork of Nautilus, and it’s the default file manager for the Cinnamon desktop environment. One of the special features of Nemo is that it has all the features of Nautilus 3.4 that have been removed in Nautilus 3.6, such as all desktop icons, compact view, etc., and tons of configuration options. Nemo also has useful features, such as open as root, open in terminal, show operation progress when copying/moving files, bookmark management, etc.
The last file manager for Linux on this list – PCManFM – has the very ambitious goal to replace Nautilus, Konqueror and Thunar. PCManFM is the standard file manager in LXDE (a distro developed by the same team of developers), and it’s meant to be lightweight, yet fully functional. I don’t have much personal experience with this file manager, but from what I know, I can’t say it’s groundbreaking, breathtaking, etc. It does have the standard features a file manager offers, such as thumbnails, access to remote file systems, multitabs, drag and drop, etc., but I don’t think it has really outstanding features. Still, if you are curious, you can give it a try and see for yourself.
There are many more file managers for Linux I didn’t include because I don’t think they are as good as the ones listed. Some of these managers are Gentoo file manager, Konqueror, Krusader, GNOME Commander, Midnight Commander, etc. If the 5 file managers I reviewed are not what you like, you can give the rest a try, but don’t expect too much from them.