[Linux] PCManFM is a great file manager

pcm1PCManFM is the default file manager for the LXDE desktop environment, but it might as well be the file manager that you should use on all desktop environments. PCManFM is a refreshing take on file management, one that is lightweight and has a ton of features. This program will help you manage your file systems both local and remote.


Main Functionality

PCManFM is a file managing program for Linux.


  • Works on environments other than LXDE
  • Full on GVFS support
  • Can handle various network protocols (sftp, webdav, smb, ftp etc)
  • Supports thumbnails for pictures
  • Elegent desktop management integration
  • Allows for custom bookmarks of locations (located on the left panel)
  • Bookmarks that are made in PCManFM are view-able from other GTK based applications
  • Support for tabbed windows
  • Drag and drop support
  • Elegent mounted volume management (can also auto mount)
  • Can change the program’s defaults
  • Various types of file views (detailed, compact and icon view)
  • Advanced file searching
  • Incredibly fast


  • Sometimes crashes without warning when doing certain tasks
  • No multiple panes — only one pane


pcm2PCManFM is a great file manager. It’s probably my favorite file manager. It’s the default file manager for LXDE, and yet I use it on XFCE. I love how it’s so lightweight, so straightforward, and so fast. I’ve never found a file manager on Linux that I’m as comfortable with. PCManFM is awesome in so many ways.

I’m pretty unhappy with Thunar which is the default file manager for XFCE, I feel that it’s terribly lacking so I always remove it instantly. PCManFM is so unbelievably simplistic, yet just as powerful as the heavy players (Dolphin, Nautilus etc). PCManFM has some awesome features, but my favorite thing about PCManFM is the way it handles SMB protocol. Sure, all Linux file managers support various types of network protocols, but PCManFM supports it faster. When I type  ‘SMB://Someplace/’ it loads it instantly. I don’t have to click on a network icon, I don’t have to fiddle with stupid icons. Everything just works.

I also really love the fact that PCManFM comes with the folder path (of which you can type into) instead of the type that you have to click everywhere and you’re not allowed to type in folder paths without modifying anything. This file manager doesn’t treat you like an idiot and I really admire that. It’s perfect for beginner users and advanced users alike.

My only problem with this file manager is that sometimes it crashes for no reason. This is a very rare occurrence but it does happen. It’s something that I can live with. I’m a massive fan of the lightweight nature of this program, and I’m also a huge fan of the other works that the guys at the LXDE project do.  PCManFM is a wonderful file manager and my obvious choice for file management. It is my humble opinion that it’s the best lightweight file manager that is available on Linux.


If you’re looking for a file manager that isn’t bloated and slow, consider your search over. PCManFM is a wonderful file manager. It’s blazing fast, has essential features and does everything very well. You’d be doing yourself a disservice by passing it up. I can’t count the number of times that I’ve replaced the stock file manager on most distros and desktop environments with PCManFM. Saying that it’s awesome is an understatement. Download it now.

Price: Free

Version reviewed: 1.1.0

Supported OS: Any Linux distro

Supported software repositories: Any Linux distro repository that supports LXDE will be able to download it

Download size: 20,612 KB

Is it portable? No

PCManFM homepage

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  • Col. Panek

    What would be really helpful is a comparison between different apps that do the same job. I went to Wikipedia’s article on file managers, and there is a whole lot of information, most of which I have no interest in. Nemo, the FM in Mint, wasn’t even listed.

    I read the descriptions of packages in the software centers, but they don’t compare apps.

    Same for choosing Linux. If a n00b is looking for a distro, where can (s)he go? If there was a simple chart listing desktops, memory requirements, special features and so on, it would be a lot easier to compare than reading all the reviews in distrowatch.

  • AFPhy6

    Yes, Ashraf: when I wrote that comment about ‘finding linux articles’ I was thinking more about making sure they are tagged in a comprehensive way, but I also said to myself, “I wonder if there is a linux heading on the main bar? I don’t recall one, but…” I never got back to confirm that, though.

    I am glad you heard my thoughts!


    Tex: as time goes by, you will find that the best thing about linux is that you have many choices about how to do things. There are so many free parts, pieces, and programs – a true plethora of riches. You are the one who will discover the best way for you to do your own tasks. It is likely not to be the way I find the best to do my tasks. I like well-designed GUIs, but have never been afraid to use command line tools. Unlike [@Col. Panek], I would rather have programs that do its specific tasks well, and if I wish to do some other task, I’ll use my other well designed program. (For ‘search’ on Windows, I use “EVERYTHING” search, do not have it run on startup or constantly index, so it is only dragging ‘puter when I need it.) PCManFM fits in well with the way I like to operate, but not the Col’s.

    One caution: that great strength of linux can also be the reason to badmouth linux! It is very easy to get into a cycle of getting the operating system to work even better, for you, and thus forgetting that it is ultimately a tool for you to get some task(s) done. You can even, easily(?) download and redesign and recompile the guts of the operating system! Unless you intend to become a professional developer (and even if you are) it is important to learn to say, “that is good enough”, or you can find that maintenance of the tool takes more time than using the tool. Most of us don’t have that problem with Windows (or Mac) systems, but it is inherent with linux. It is easy with linux to say later on, well, that tool is not quite good enough… let me tweak this part a bit more.

    Personal note along those lines: there was a time long ago I became so overwhelmingly obsessed with computer op.systems that I LivedAteSlept with the god of the computer. I had to go cold turkey for years to get back the perspective that this box is a TOOL, not a god. That path I trod I wish on nobody, though I know some are on it.

  • [@Tex] When it comes down to it, Dolphin is more full featured. I prefer the way PCManFM works because I am a minimalist. If you really like dolphin you should stick with it.

  • Tex

    Thank you for the article Derrik,

    So because I am newb on linux just switching over from windows. I am runing Mint KDE which uses Dolphin.

    Is there a real advantage for me to switch over to this one?

    Thanks again.

    Keep the linux articles coming

  • [@Col. Panek] This isn’t really a big deal to me because I’m usually a big terminal guy. When I want to find a file I just open up terminator and type “locate *.filetype or filename.

    I can understand why you’d want one though.

    Thanks for the kind words.

    No problem! Thanks for the positive feedback!

  • Col. Panek

    Great article! Keep them coming.
    … just two things. PCManFM lacks a search function and a dual-pane function. These are deal-breakers for me. So I use Nemo (Mint’s improvement on Nautilus). It runs 18 MB and is probably slower as a result, but I don’t notice.

  • Ashraf

    [@AFPhy6] I agree. Derrik is doing a good job. Thanks Derrik!

    And thank you A for reminding me, I should add a link to Linux articles at the top.

  • AFPhy6

    Keep on writing, Derrik … Given the popular opinion on DT threads about the energy-sapping behavior of AntiVirus and other protection needs to run Windows machines, I suspect that you’re going to find more and more linux fans as time goes on, since this site has a higher “Techie IQ” than most.

    Just make sure we can find these articles when we need them!