PCManFM

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PCMan File Manager
PCMan File Manager.png
Developer Hong Jen Yee (PCMan)
Latest version 1.2.2 (from 24 Aug 2014)
Genre File Manager
License GNU General Public License
Website blog.lxde.org

PCMan File Manager (PCManFM) is a file manager application developed by Hong Jen Yee from Taiwan which is meant to be a replacement for Nautilus, Konqueror and Thunar. Released under the GNU General Public License, PCManFM is free software. PCManFM is the standard file manager in LXDE, which is also developed by the same author in conjunction with other developers. Since 2010, PCManFM has undergone a complete rewrite from scratch. So the new PCManFM is totally different from the old 0.5.x series. Build instructions, the ways to setup, and configuration files are different, too.

PCManFM is intended to follow the specifications given by Freedesktop.org for interoperability in free software.

Features

PCManFM's features include:

  • Full gvfs support with seamless access to remote filesystems (Able to handle sftp://, webdav://, smb://, ...etc when related backends of gvfs are installed.)
  • Thumbnails for pictures (default only for local pictures) with optional EXIF support
  • Desktop management - shows wallpaper and desktop icons, highly customisable, with possibility to have different wallpapers on each desktop and on each monitor
  • Bookmarks - saved places. You can see them in the left panel of PCManFM. Visible from other Gtk+ applications.
  • Multilingual (translated in several languages)
  • Can be started in one second on normal machine
  • Tabbed windows (similar to Firefox tabs)
  • Volume management (mount/unmount/eject, requires gvfs) with optional automounting
  • Drag & Drop support
  • Files can be dragged among tabs
  • File association support (e.g. default application to open)
  • Provides icon view, compact view, detailed list view and thumbnail view.
  • Standard compliant (follows the FreeDesktop.org guidelines)
  • Clean and user-friendly interface (GTK+ 2)
  • Trash can support
  • Applications menu virtual folder support
  • Applications system menu full editing is available
  • File system advanced search
  • Optional two-panel view mode
  • Full accessibility support for persons with disabilities
  • A possibility to have different view options for some folders
  • Customizable main window layout
  • Third-party plugins support
  • Extended terminal emulators support
  • File templates support (both GNOME and KDE styles are supported) to simple creation of new files

Get and Compile the Source Code

Please, refer to the complete build and setup guide for PCManFM/libfm.

Setup

Desktop Path

If your desktop displays the files of your /home/ and not the files on your real Desktop path, you probably do not have an established path "Desktop". To fix this please do the following:

  • mkdir ~/Desktop
  • nano ~/.config/user-dirs.dirs
  • change XDG_DESKTOP_DIR="$HOME" to XDG_DESKTOP_DIR="$HOME/Desktop"
  • and restart your LXDE session (log out and log in).

Desktop Icons/links

If you start PCManFM with the option "--desktop", it will allow PCManFM to set wallpapers and enable the use of desktop icons. However desktop links are not totally obvious. Here are some hints.

Create desktop files with the GUI
  1. Open context menu on desktop, and create new empty file with name myapplication.desktop (or choose other name if such file already exists)
  2. Right-click on new file, choose Properties and change name, icon, command, etc. to desired ones.
Manually create desktop icons

Open the files with editor to see how they work:

  • Look at the examples here: /usr/share/applications
  • A typical file name is like this one: leafpad.desktop The file name won't show up on pcmanfm but name stated inside the file instead.
Other Hints
  • Copy files from /usr/share/applications to your ~/Desktop folder.
  • Drag and drop an application from Applications special folder onto your desktop.
  • Make your own desktop files by following the examples above and put them in your ~/Desktop folder.
  • The same *.desktop files can be used for the buttons in the lxpanel, refer to LXPanel documentation for details.
  • Drag and drop a link from browser or mail client onto your desktop to create a shortcut.
  • Create a template in your ~/Templates folder - file name on creation will be new file name template, contents will be used as template in context menu Create New... submenu. Example of template:
[Desktop Entry]
Type=Application
Name=New Application
Icon=exec
Trashcan

If you use PCManFM to manage your desktop, you may want to have an icon for the trashcan, too. Since version 1.2.0 you can simply open desktop properties window and check the appropriate box.

Before version 1.2.0 this didn't work out of the box. To add a working trashcan symbol to your desktop for older PCManFM version, simply follow these steps (credits to ronniew):

  • Right click on a free place on your desktop and create a new file by using the context menu and use "Trash" at it's name
  • Edit the new file with leafpad or any other text editor and enter the following text:
#!/usr/bin/env xdg-open
[Desktop Entry]
Version=1.0
Name=Check Trash
Comment=Browser
Exec=pcmanfm trash:///
Terminal=false
X-MultipleArgs=false
Type=Application
Icon=gnome-stock-trash.svg
Categories=Application;Desktop;Filemanager
MimeType=text/html;text/xml;application/xhtml+xml;application/xml;application/vnd.mozilla.xul+xml;application/rss+xml;application/rdf+xml;image/gif;image/jpeg;image/png;
StartupWMClass=Pcmanfm
StartupNotify=true
  • Save the newly edited file and close leafpad. That's it.

Note though the trashcan icon in this solution cannot follow the Trash Can state (empty or full). Upgrade PCManFM to newer version to get it working out of the box and eliminate this workaround.

Multiple monitor setup

Since version 1.2.0 all the monitor settings are completely independent for each monitor. Therefore if you want some of old behavior you should do things differently.

Desktop wallpaper
  • If you wish your wallpaper to span over your whole screen composed of multiple monitors then choose option 'Stretch to fill the complete screen' for wallpaper mode in the Desktop Preferences window and then choose the same wallpaper file on each desktop.
Desktop icons
  • If you wish to have the same icons from ~/Desktop folder on each monitor then just set 'Default' as an option for 'Use desktop as a folder (show icons on it) by path:' in the Desktop Preferences.
  • If you wish to have icons only on a single monitor then uncheck the box option 'Use desktop as a folder (show icons on it) by path:' in the Desktop Preferences.
  • If you wish to have different icons on each monitor then use 'Custom:' option for 'Use desktop as a folder (show icons on it) by path:' in the Desktop Preferences.

Create New...

In the folder context menu the very first item is a Create New... submenu. Using this submenu you can create different types of files. Basic types are Folder and Empty File. To add some other types into this submenu you need LibFM at least version 1.2.0. You can have both system-wide templates and your own templates shown in the submenu. To use system-wide templates appropriate setting should be enabled in Preferences. To use your own templates you should have ~/Templates folder (it may have localized name instead, look into ~/.config/user-dirs.dirs file, appropriate setting is XDG_TEMPLATES_DIR) and you can put your own template file into that directory. Both GNOME template style and KDE template style are supported. The GNOME template style means new file name template will be taken as the name of file in the ~/Templates directory, the contents of the template file will be copied into new file. The KDE template style means each template has own Desktop Entry file with Type=Link where new file name template will be set in URL field of the Desktop Entry and if the file mentioned in URL field exists then its contents will be copied into new file.

Note that you have to restart PCManFM if ~/Templates folder didn't exist before and you created it. Otherwise it will be ignored by PCManFM.

How view settings change in one PCManFM window affects other PCManFM windows

Settings that are always the same for new created windows

The setting Initial value
Dual Pane Mode Disabled
Fullscreen Mode Disabled
View Mode Set from Preferences
Files Filter Show all

Settings that affect current and initial setting for each new window created after change was made

  • Side bar mode
  • Path bar mode
  • Sort settings
  • Hidden files visibility

Settings that affect initial setting for each new window created after some window was closed

  • Window size
  • Window maximized state

Settings that affect current as well as any other opened window immediately

  • Toolbar layout
  • Status bar visibility
  • Size of icons
  • Preferences settings except Default View Mode

Tips and Tricks

  • Next keyboard actions will work on folder in the current tab even if keyboard focus is on Sidebar or Toolbar buttons:
    • Selected File Properties
    • Context menu for selection
  • Next keyboard actions will work depending on keyboard focus:
    • Cut selected into clipboard
    • Copy selected into clipboard
    • Paste clipboard content
    • Delete selected
    • Select all
  • All other keys mentioned in main menu work always on folder in the current tab.
  • Context menu for folder selection can be called by pressing standard context menu keys ('Menu', or 'Shift' + 'F10'). In versions 1.1.x it can be done by pressing 'Shift' + 'Menu' instead.
  • Pressing 'Ctrl' + 'Menu' when folder view is focused calls context menu for folder itself. In versions 1.1.x it can be done by pressing 'Menu' instead.
  • You can select few files by pressing cursor keys while holding 'Shift'.
  • You can toggle selection of focused file by pressing 'Ctrl' + space.
  • A properties window for the selected file can be called by pressing 'Alt' + 'Enter'.
  • When keyboard focus is in the Location Bar, key 'Tab' does completion and never leave the bar.
  • Pressing 'Enter' in the Location Bar will change keyboard focus onto folder in the current active tab.
  • Pressing 'Shift' + 'Tab' in the Location Bar will change keyboard focus onto Sidebar.

  • View mode (icons, list, etc.) for current tab can be changed in main menu. Unlike to other changes, this one does not affect other tabs and not remembered for further usage. To change view mode for all new tabs and windows use the setting in the Preferences window.
  • You can use independent view settings (view mode, sort options, and show hidden option) for some folder by checking an option in main menu.

  • You can disable showing icons on the desktop in the desktop preferences.

Run as root

You can use Desktop file specification extension (DES-EMA) to add support for opening some folder as root. Example of the desktop entry that implements such feature in file and folder context menus:

[Desktop Entry]
Name = Open as Root
Tooltip = Open the folder as root
Icon = terminal
Profiles = on_folder;

[X-Action-Profile on_folder]
Name = Open as Root
MimeTypes = inode/directory;
SelectionCount = 1
Schemes = file;
Exec = gksudo pcmanfm %f

You can replace gksudo above with another application that gives you root privileges in dependence which one do you have in your system, such as gksu (Debian Sqeeze) or beesu (Fedora Core).

You can replace pcmanfm above too, with pcmanfm-qt for example.

That file should be put into the directory ~/.local/share/file-manager/actions to take effect.

PCManFM versions 0.4 thru 1.1 had the option in main menu: "Tools" > "Open Current Folder as Root", but now it is removed due to security considerations.

Known GTK issues

  • Non-mountable entries in /etc/fstab may cause 100% CPU load on mount attempt. The bug is reported to GNOME. Workaround: disable option 'Mount mountable volumes automatically on program startup' in Preferences or (better) remove those devices from /etc/fstab.
  • Some pictures are big in pixels size while small in file size (for example, 250 Mpix image can easily be 1 MB file) so to avoid memory overload maximum thumbnail file size is checked not only against its size in KB but also against its size in Kpix as well.

Bug reports, patch submissions or feature requests

See also

External Links