Best Alternative File Managers for Ubuntu

When it comes to browsing files, nothing works as great as our trusted friend Nautilus. The official file manager for the GNOME desktop environment has been around since Ubuntu’s inception. With support for browsing local as well as network file systems, Nautilus is stable, reliable and incredibly easy to use. If compared to Windows Explorer, one could easily say that Nautilus would be the preferred choice for new users as well as expert ones. Also, as compared to other file browsers, this GNOME-lover’s dream has evolved and matured over the years without compromising on usability. Currently at version 3.5, Nautilus is one of the core components driving the success of Ubuntu as file management is an aspect that simply cannot be overlooked.

That said, not everybody’s happy with Nautilus. Some don’t like the browsing mode and some hate the interface. Of course, Nautilus is the default file manager in almost all GNOME-based distributions; however, that doesn’t mean that you should stick with it forever. You can, thanks to the freedom of FOSS, try out as many file managers as you like until you come across something you’d love to use on a daily basis. So, if you’re one of those people who are either tired with Nautilus or are just looking for something new, here’s a nice list of the best alternative file managers for Ubuntu:


Thunar is a modern, minimalistic file manager that is included by default in the Xfce Desktop Environment. Designed to be fast, simple, and easy to use, Thunar sports a clean and intuitive interface that new users would have no time getting used to. Though simple, it does come with some powerful features that outmatch Nautilus in many areas. For example, Thunar comes with a batch renamer that lets you rename multiple files at once. Also, with support for extensions, you can extend the functionality of your file manager without compromising much on stability. One of my favorite plug-ins in Thunar is the audio tags renamer, which, once installed, lets you rename multiple media files at once using their ID3 tags.

To install Thunar, type in or paste the following commands in your Linux terminal (Ctrl + Alt + T):

sudo apt-get install thunar


Dolphin is KDE’s default file browser. Packed with a neatly designed interface and a minimalistic toolbar, Dolphin can serve as a perfect replacement to Nautilus. On a first glance, Dolphin looks pretty swanky, more beautiful than Nautilus or any other file manager. The support for image previews and the easy to navigate menus make it a perfect choice for minimalism fans. That said, Dolphin does come with some powerful features that can make it a perfect choice for developers and advanced users as well. The split view provides users with a Midnight Commander-like browsing, while the terminal integration makes it a coder’s first choice. Furthermore, one of the most interesting features of Dolphin is that it remembers the view properties of each folder. So, for example, if you’ve enabled previews in one folder, then the next time you visit it, you’ll find that your settings are intact. This makes Dolphin one of the most intuitive file managers around.


sudo apt-get install dolphin


Marlin is a GTK3-based file manager inspired by Nautilus Elementary. Packed with tabbed browsing, Unity integration, Quicklists support, and more, the under-development file manager can be used as a perfect replacement to Nautilus, especially in Unity. To install it, type in the following commands in your terminal:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:marlin-devs/marlin-daily
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install marlin

For integrating Marlin with UbuntuOne and Dropbox:

sudo apt-get install marlin-plugin-dropbox marlin-plugin-ubuntuone

Nautilus Elementary

A fork of Nautilus, this clean and simple file manager adds a lot of functionality to the browser that it is based upon. With zoom sliders and sidebars, Nautilus Elementary is like using Nautilus on steroids. Though still in development, you can certainly try it out by installing it from the PPA:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:am-monkeyd/nautilus-elementary-ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

PCMan File Manager

If speed is what you’re looking for then PCMan is your best bet. Lubuntu’s default file manager promises to be lightweight and easy to use. If you’re moving from Nautilus then expect to miss out on some features, but the speed improvements you’ll get will probably make you stick with it.


sudo apt-get install pcmanfm


  1. Development of Nautilus elementary stopped. :-)

    IMHO Ubuntu 13.04 needs a new Filemanager.

    Look at Dolphin, its the best FM I have seen so far, even the Nepomuk stuff, which is not part of it, is a very fat unnecessary KDE thing..

  2. Marlin is the successor of Nautilus elementary.

  3. Just wanted to add spaceFm to your nice list

  4. Marlin's development seems to have stopped.

  5. Everything is big cow shit! When I see something that will equal the total commander?

  6. I need a FM with empty last column in 'Detail View' like in Explorer. So that when space in empty column is clicked, no items are selected while selected items are de-selected.