Best Console / Terminal File Managers for Linux

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Navigating through your Linux box cannot get better than doing it on your terminal instead of the traditional way of opening up a new window. Terminal file managers are awesome mainly because you do not have to leave your terminal working space just because you would wish to open a file manager. You get it all on one platform hence more productivity, less movement and of course a good smile on your face. This article delves into some of the prominent terminal file managers just for you. Stand by and enjoy..

“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God, which is why we call it the present.”
― Bill Keane

The following are the best terminal file managers out there:

1. Ranger

Ranger is a console file manager with VI key bindings. Ranger knows you like your VI (Vi is a screen editor for Linux, Unix, and other Unix-like operating systems) hence brings it to you in this fine file manager. All the short cuts you like using in your VI are copiously provided and you will definitely feel right in your crib. It provides a minimalistic and nice curses interface with a view on the directory hierarchy. It ships with rifle, a file launcher that is good at automatically finding out which program to use for what file type.


Wonderful Features of Ranger

  • UTF-8 Support (if your Python copy supports it)
  • Console-based, with smooth integration into the unix shell
  • Multi-column display
  • Preview of the selected file/directory. This is one amazing feature I like about ranger. Just select the file and it will show you the contents at a glance beside it.
  • Common file operations (create/chmod/copy/delete/…)
  • Renaming multiple files at once
  • VIM-like console and hotkeys
  • Automatically determine file types and run them with correct programs
  • A quick way to switch directories and browse the file system
  • Change the directory of your shell after exiting ranger
  • Tabs, bookmarks, mouse support
  • An easily maintainable file manager in a high level language
  • A quick way to exit from it. Just press q and it goes..

More about Ranger can be found on ranger github space

2. nnn

Running on Linux, macOS, Raspberry Pi, BSD, Cygwin, Linux subsystem for Windows and Termux on Android, nnn is like a swiss army knife. This file manager is a full-featured file manager for low-power, low-frequency, resource-limited devices and the regular desktop. It aims to be one of the fastest and most lightweight file managers.


Features of nnn

  • Unicode support
  • Follows Linux kernel coding style
  • Highly optimized, static analysis integrated code
  • Minimal library dependencies
  • Available on many distros
  • nnn has multiple Modes: These include
  • Detail (default), light
  • Disk usage analyzer (block/apparent)
  • File picker, (neo)vim plugin
  • Easy navigation while you are in. This is because it uses familiar shortcuts such as tilde(~), bookmarking to visit a directory.
  • Easy and efficient searching. It employs Regex and substring match and Instant filtering with search-as-you-type.
  • It has support for Mouse
  • It can Create, rename files and directories
  • Amazingly Selects files across dirs; all/range selection
  • You can Copy, move, delete, archive, link selection
  • FreeDesktop compliant trash (needs trash-cli)
  • Maintained Plugin repository
  • SSHFS mounts (needs sshfs)
  • Batch rename (needs vidir)
  • You can show copy, move progress on Linux (needs avdcpmv)
  • Per-context directory color (default: blue)
  • It can spawn a shell in the current directory
  • Launch applications, run a command
  • Run current file as executable
  • Change directory at exit (easy shell integration)
  • Edit file in EDITOR or open in PAGER
  • It has the ability to take quick notes
  • Lock the terminal (needs a locker)
  • Shortcut reference a keypress away

Find out more on nnn github page

3. fff

This is a fully fledged terminal file manager that begun as an experiment and went its way up to be one of the best terminal file managers. It grew and changed into a project that it is today. Well, fff is a simple terminal file manager written in bash.


Features of fff

  • It’s amazingly rocket Fast. One of the many admirable features that fff comes bundled with is its fastness. Considering that it is lightweight, you can be guaranteed that your file navigation will not be the same again.
  • Minimal (only requires bash and coreutils)
  • Smooth Scrolling (using vim keybindings). With vim keybindings, there in no need to learn new stuff all over again. You simply use what you already know.
  • Works on Linux, BSD, macOS, Haiku etc.
  • Supports LS_COLORS
  • Supports file Operations such as copy, paste, cut, ranger style bulk rename an more.
  • Instant as you type search
  • Tab completion for all commands!
  • Works as a file picker in vim/neovim
  • Display images with w3m-img. There is no need to use an image viewer anymore with this feature. Everything becomes just blissful.

Check out more about fff on fff github page

4. lf file manager

lf is an acronym standing for list files. This project is inspired by ranger and is a terminal file manager written in Go. If you have ever used ranger, you will find it quite familiar. The following are the features that you will find when you get ls.


Features of lf

  • Cross-platform application. It runs on Linux, OSX, BSDs, and partially on Windows
  • Single binary without any runtime dependencies (except for terminfo database)
  • Fast startup and low memory footprint
  • Server/client architecture to share file selection between multiple instances
  • Configuration with shell commands
  • Customizable keybindings (vi and readline defaults)
  • Preview filtering (for source highlight, archives, pdfs/images as text and more.

You will find more details about installation and other valuable information on lf github page

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