How to Replace Nautilus with PCMan File Manager in Ubuntu

Sponsored Link
an extremely fast and lightweight file manager for X.PCMan File Manager is a gtk2 based file manager for the X Window System.


* Extremly fast and lightweight
* Can be started in one second on normal machine
* Tabbed browsing (similar to Firefox)
* Drag & Drop support
* Files can be dragged among tabs
* Load large directories in reasonable time
* File association support (Default application)
* Basic thumbnail support
* Bookmarks support
* Handles non-UTF-8 encoded filenames correctly
* Provide icon view and detailed list view
* Standard compliant (Follows
* Clean and user-friendly interface (GTK+ 2)

Install pcmanfm using the following command

sudo aptitude install pcmanfm

This will complete the instalaltion

Replacing Nautilus with PCman

You need to open pcman from Applications > System Tools > PCMan File Manager

Now you need to type the following path in address bar and press enter


Now you need to go Tools > Open Current Folder as root.

Enter the root password and click ok

Now you should see similar to the following screen

Make a backup copy of the files below (copy and paste and add "_bak" on the end of the file name)



Now you need to open the nautilus-computer.desktop,nautilus-folder-handler.desktop files and Change the line in each with starts with Exec=

For nautilus-computer.desktop:

Exec=pcmanfm /

For nautilus-folder-handler.desktop:

Exec=pcmanfm %U

After changes Save and exit those files.

From now on your Nautilus replaced with fileman you can see as follows

PCman version details

Sponsored Link

You may also like...

23 Responses

  1. Gene says:

    Does PCMan support ftp transfers? It is quicker for me than Nautilus but I need to browse and transfer to ftp from the file browser. Some old information here but not sure if anything came of it? Anyone help?

  2. Gene says:

    O.K. after closer investigation it appears ftp access is still a work in progress:

    From the GnomeFiles PCMan page:

    Note: FTP/FTPS support is provide by curlftpfs. SFTP support is provided by sshfs. Samba support is provided by fusesmb. To use those new features, curlftpfs, sshfs, and fusesmb must be installed.

    Besides, for FUSE to work, you must be a member of group ‘fuse’. Otherwise, you’ll get “permission denied”. For detail, please refer to the documentation of FUSE.

    Security Concerns:
    * When using ftp and ftps with curlftpfs, the username and password will be passed in the command line, so they are clearly visible with ‘ps’ command. Use this with cautions.
    * The usernames and passwords are stored in ~/.config/pcmanfm/remote-fs.list in plain text without encryption. The permission of that file is 0600, so only the owner and root can view it. However, there are still risks. Please keep this in mind.

  3. cudjoe says:

    PCman is on the right track, but still immature…

    …some keyboard shortcuts are missing.
    Ctrl+L : focus on location bar
    Ctrl+Shift+N : create new folder

    And the folders in the location bar are not clickable.

  4. Luptinpitman says:

    Am I crazy? I can’t find the two files specified.


    I navigate to /usr/share/applications and see neither.

    I run a search on the system for both *.desktop files and they are found in the path /usr/share/applications but they aren’t actually there when I browse via PCMAN or Nautilus.

    Kind of freaking me out 🙂

    I’ve tried Ctrl+H to see if they are hidden, which they are not. Any ideas?

  5. Luptinpitman says:


    I was able to see them from the terminal. Made backups, made changes, save/close, money.

    Thanks for the howto!

  6. Wandering says:

    I can’t believe that you will save the time invested in this post in the next 20 years of using this software. I just can’t see the point. Blessings on all who use it.

  7. barpanel says:

    On a related note, I can also recommend a related article:

    How to replace your GNOME panel with BarPanel.

    BarPanel is an alternative to gnome panel just as pcmanfm is for the nautilus file manager.

  8. gsiliceo says:

    Thats nice but i wrote additional steps in ubuntu forums to get a complete replace.

    Look for the second post.

  9. Brett says:

    I still think its missing a tree view… Thats something I’d like to see in Nautilus.

  10. libre fan says:

    Thanks for this page. PCMan File Manager is light and nice and I followed your instructions. Yet it crashes each time I want to browse an image dir. Also if I mount an external devicxe nautilus takes precedence and I can’t copy from a Nautilus window to a PCMan File Manager window.

    Finally bookmarks don’t seem to remain in the tree — Brett I can see a tree view all right (just make it appear).

    Rox-filer may not be as integrated with Gnome but it rocks.

  11. blink4blog says:

    Really nice tip, now me using PCMan file manager instead of resources hungry Nautilus. The only draw back is cannot move the icons on the desktop and have to configure wallpaper using PCMan instead of System > Preference > Appearance

  12. Skillachi says:

    Great tip. I have a question though. Instead of PCman I want to change my file manager from nautilus to the kde4 dolphin… Can you post a write up on how to do that too?

  13. junaidi says:

    I’ve followed all the steps given to change file manager to use pcman, but every time I click on places submenu, it launch “Find Files” instead of pcman, is there anything I can do to fix the problem?

  14. sdowney717 says:

    tried it but did not work on Jaunty.
    nautilus still opens whether the 2 files are modified or even deleted

  15. sdowney717 says:

    OK, I got it working. Weirdly, there are supposed to be 2 files named this and you need to put in that

    For nautilus-computer.desktop: Exec=pcmanfm /


    For nautilus-folder-handler.desktop: Exec=pcmanfm %U

    But for some reason on my system, there was a “~” at the end of the files and any changes
    I made were ignored. The only way I could rename them was to use nautilus as a super user. PCMan could not do it, kept reverting to “open folder” and “computer”

  16. sdowney717 says:

    is there any way the “save as” dialog box can be sped up? takes 30 seconds to open for me. I assume it is still using nautilus??

  17. Brett says:

    The day it has out-of-the-box support for sftp, ftp, etc. is the day I switch to it.

  18. David says:

    I was looking for a fast GUI file manager for occasional use over VNC, and didn’t want to install a huge desktop environment on this system. pcmanfm is perfect.

  19. suolakurkku says:

    I didn’t see the files on either of the filemanagers, so I used the terminal to access them, replaced the lines as the tutorial prompted, but when I click something (Places > Home Folder for instance), all I get is an errormessage ; Could not open location ‘file:///home/suolakurkku’ Failed to execute child process “=pcmanfm” (No such file or directory)

    Any ideas?

  20. suolakurkku says:

    Nevermind that, I just had and extra “=” in the file I didn’t notice *slams his head to the desk*

  21. Poisonous says:

    Every time a package upgrade triggers on, I will have to redo this. Great, great, ingenious solution.

  22. Donald Duckegg says:

    This doesnt seem to apply to Lucid 10.04 – because none of these files are in this directory!

  23. Jerry Amos says:

    On pcmanfm on Ubuntu, double click on an icon which is a shell script does not execute it.

    On pcman on Debian, just right click on the shell script and it executes.

    I can’t find out how to execute anything with pcmanfm on Ubuntu.

    If pcmanfm cannot do that, then I’m for nautilus.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *