File Managers

15 Best Free and Open Source Linux File Managers

A file manager is software which provides a user interface to assist in the organisation of files. It helps users with their daily work in managing their files on a hard drive or other storage device. With terabyte hard disks becoming prevalent, file managers represent an essential tool in managing file systems.

Every file manager provides basic operations such as to create, open, view, edit, search, rename, move copy, and delete files. However, file managers typically come supplied with sophisticated functionality including network connectivity, directory synchronizing, archive handling, advanced searching, shortcuts, file/folder comparisons, checksums, plugins, and more, making them an incredibly powerful tool.

There are 3 main types of file managers covered in this feature. Orthodox file managers or “Commander-like” file managers have three windows (two panels and one command line window). The second type is the navigational file manager representing the most common type of file manager available today. We also have included the finest console based file managers.

To provide an insight into the quality of software that is available, we have compiled a list of 15 high quality free Linux file managers. Hopefully, there will be something of interest for anyone who wishes to have more control over managing their files.

Here’s our verdict captured in a legendary LinuxLinks-style ratings chart. Only free and open source software is eligible for inclusion.

Ratings chart

Click the links in the table below to learn more about each file manager.

File Managers
KrusaderAdvanced orthodox file manager for KDE
nnnFast and flexible file manager
DolphinDefault file manager for KDE 5
Midnight CommanderUser-friendly yet powerful orthodox file manager
Double CommanderFile manager with two panels side by side
RangerConsole file manager with VI key bindings
PCManFM-QtLightweight Qt-based file manager which uses GLib
PCManFMDefault file manager for LXDE
FilesFile browser designed for elementary OS
GNOME FilesSpatial file manager; default file manager for GNOME
lfTerminal file manager written in Go
GNOME CommanderOrthodox file manager for the GNOME desktop environment
SpacedrivePowered by a virtual distributed filesystem
CliFMShell-like, command line terminal file manager
XfeVery similiar to Windows Explorer

There are many other good file managers not included in this roundup. These are featured in specific roundups in the Productivity section.

This article has been revamped in line with our recent announcement.

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22 Comments
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Jarek
Jarek
2 years ago

One of the best thought-out managers is inevitably missing here: the rox-filer.

Seggev
Seggev
2 years ago
Reply to  Jarek

rox-filer is dead

Aceed
Aceed
1 year ago

What about zzzfm?

Ben
Ben
1 year ago

zzzfm just seems an outdated/obsolete option.
It appeared in the AUR, and both zzzfm-bin and -git fail to find package libudev which shows a first commit, plus was last updated in July 2014!

Aceed
Aceed
1 year ago
Reply to  Ben

the one I am using is zzzfm from antix repo (maybe mxlinux too) not the AUR zzfm

Allan Kirsch
Allan Kirsch
10 months ago

Konqueror is the ultimate file manage as far as I’m concerned. It is far from “basic” in its functionality. I’ve tried them all. Even Dolphin can’t split windows horizontally and vertically multiple times. Konqueror is king if you are working on a complex project where you need to have numerous windows open and occupy the smallest amount of screen space.

Andrew
Andrew
6 months ago

Surprised to see a couple that are usually mentioned left off of this list: Nemo (from Cinnamon DE) and Thunar (from XFCE).

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
26 days ago
Reply to  Andrew

Thunar is garbage.

woo
woo
26 days ago

Thunar… The default file manager on Xfce?

Andrew
Andrew
26 days ago
Reply to  woo

Billy Bob says it’s garbage.

Alex
Alex
26 days ago

Yazi for console is super fast and nice, I think it’s much better than ranger

DonaldJ
DonaldJ
21 days ago

How close are we to coming to an animated desktop file handler?

It would be nice to have a three headed sleeping dragon on the screen.
The cursor comes near one of the heads. It wakes screaming vicious, bites the cursor, and its associated file opens. When that file is dropped, the dragon head comes into the screen like lightning, blasting fire on the file, closing it..

James
James
17 days ago

I have always found the default file manager to be the best file manager. I use Ubuntu Mate, to Caja is the best file manager for me.

Polmor
Polmor
17 days ago
Reply to  James

If you don’t try others, you’ll always be in the dark.