X-plore file manager for Android

X-plore is a two-pane file manager for Android devices. It can be installed from the Play Store here.

This file manager will appeal to all you oldies coming from Windows or Linux. It is loaded with features and looks and operates like the traditional two-pane file managers. The quirky UI is actually very intuitive and easy to use once you get used to it.

The features I love in X-plore:

  • Support for the Copy.com cloud storage. So, I can browse and operate on all my online files directly from the file explorer. Music and video files can be played directly. This eliminates the need to install the Copy.com app.

  • Support for UPnP/DLNA servers. The videos, music and pictures served by a media server appear directly as a filesystem hierarchy. The videos and music files can be played directly. This eliminates the need for a separate UPnP/DLNA client app.

  • Audio files in cloud storage or UPnP/DLNA servers can be operated on and played in a fully featured in-built music player. What I like is that I can add all files under a directory to the playlist of the music player. This music player can also be used by all other apps to play music files. Do note that the music player is a paid feature. After you play 2 songs, the app will indicate that you pay the developer for 3 beers, a very reasonable price 🙂

Tried with: X-plore 3.75, Android 5.0.2 and Moto G2 (XT1068)

X File Explorer


X File Explorer (XFE) is an extremely lightweight and minimal file manager. I was forced to look for such a file manager when I found both Nautilus and Nemo struggling to open directories containing thousands of files. XFE is blazing fast and consumes extremely small amount of memory. It is written in the minimal FOX Toolkit and looks the same on any platform.


XFE can be installed easily from the Ubuntu archives:

$ sudo apt install xfe

However, this is an old version and does not have many new features.

I found it better to download the .deb file of the latest version from here and install it.


Some of the features of XFE that I find useful:

  • Directory contents can be displayed in 3 views: big icons, small icons and list.

  • Tree view on the left and up to two panels can be displayed.

  • Bookmarks are rudimentary, but available.

  • Settings are stored in ~/.config/xfe/xferc.

  • In small icons display mode, only the first 20 characters of filenames are displayed by default. To change this to display full filename, right-click anywhere and choose Autosize.


One of the main problems I face with XFE is that it is quite flaky. I find that the window just disappears while it is being redrawn or flickers under XFCE.

Tried with: XFE 1.4 and Ubuntu 14.04

Vi File Manager


Vi File Manager (vifm) is a terminal file manager for users familiar with the Vim editor. Its two-pane interface is similar to Midnight Commander. However, the navigation, select, cut-copy-paste commands are similar to that in Vim.


To install vifm from Ubuntu repository:

$ sudo apt install vifm

However, I found that this version of vifm is very old. The most recent vifm can be easily downloaded from here and compiled using:

$ ./configure
$ make
$ sudo make install


Some of the common commands I use are:

  • j, k, h, l: Move down, up, back, forward
  • Ctrl+w w: Switch between the split panes
  • :only: Make current pane fullscreen
  • :vsplit: Bring back split panes from fullscreen mode
  • w: Switch to preview mode. Preview is shown in other pane.
  • cw: Rename file. Remember it as the change word command from Vim
  • Shift+v: Move around to select files
  • yy: Copy the files
  • dd: Delete/cut the files
  • p: Paste the files
  • t: Select files individually

For the detailed list of commands see the vifm manual and this summarized command list.

Custom configuration can be stored in the ~/.vifm/vifmrc file.

Tried with: Vifm 0.7.7 and Ubuntu 14.04

How to set Nemo as default file manager

I find the Nautilus in recent Ubuntu versions quite irritating. Several nice features have been removed. Thankfully, Nemo, a fork of Nautilus, still has those features.

To make Nemo the default manager:

$ xdg-mime default nemo.desktop inode/directory application/x-gnome-saved-search

To make Nemo handle the desktop:

$ gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.background show-desktop-icons false
$ gsettings set org.nemo.desktop show-desktop-icons true

Warning: Do not use exo-preferred-applications utility to set Nemo as default file manager. It works, but disables xdg-open.

Tried with: Nemo 1.8.4 and Ubuntu 14.04

xdg-open stopped working


The default file explorer application used in Ubuntu is Nautilus. To set Nemo as the default file manager I first installed exo-utils:

$ sudo apt-get install exo-utils

Next, I opened the exo-preferred-applications from the shell and in Utilities > File manager section set Nemo as my file manager:

$ exo-preferred-applications

The changes are applied immediately. However, I noticed that xdg-open stopped working. Any application that used it to open files, like Chrome for example, would just open Nemo with that file highlighted.


It turns out that the problem is exo-utils. It has been filed as a bug.

If you face this problem, remove exo-utils package:

$ sudo apt-get purge exo-utils

Restart and the default behavior of xdg-open should be back.

Note: The right method to set Nemo as default file manager is here.

Tried with: Ubuntu 14.04

Nemo File Manager

Nemo is a file manager for Linux that is a fork of Nautilus. In recent versions of GNOME or Ubuntu, Nautilus has been simplified and lots of features have been removed. For example, I like to use Compact View and this has been removed in the Nautilus in Ubuntu 14.04. If you need a file manager that is similar to the old Nautilus, but having a good set of features, then pick Nemo.

If you are using an older version of Ubuntu, add the PPA:

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:webupd8team/nemo
$ sudo apt-get update

Installing Nemo is the same in all versions of Ubuntu:

$ sudo apt-get install nemo

If you would like to make Nemo your default file manager, please see this post.

Tried with: Nemo 2.0.8 and Ubuntu 12.04