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From the project home page:

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.


pcmanfm is available in the official repositories.

It's recommended to install gvfs for trash support, mounting with udisk and remote filesystems.

Notable variants are:

Desktop management

The command to allow PCManFM to set wallpapers and enable the use of desktop icons is:

pcmanfm --desktop

The native desktop menu of the window manager will be replaced with that provided by PCManFM. However, it can easily be restored from the PCManFM menu itself by selecting Desktop preferences and then enabling the Right click shows WM menu option in the Desktop tab.

Desktop preferences

If using the native desktop menu provided by a window manager, enter the following command to set or amend desktop preferences at any time:

$ pcmanfm --desktop-pref

It is worthwhile to consider adding this command to a keybind and/or the native desktop menu for easy access.

Creating new icons

User content such as text files, documents, images and so forth can be dragged and dropped directly onto the desktop. To create shortcuts for applications it will be necessary to copy their .desktop files to the ~/Desktop directory itself. Do not drag and drop the files there as they will be moved completely. The syntax of the command to do so is:

cp /usr/share/applications/<name of application>.desktop ~/Desktop

For example - where installed - to create a desktop shortcut for lxterminal, the following command would be used:

cp /usr/share/applications/lxterminal.desktop ~/Desktop

For those who used the Xdg user directories program to create their $HOME directories no further configuration will be required.

Daemon mode

The session or autostart command to run PCManFM as a daemon / background process (i.e. to automount removable media such as CD/DVDs and USB flash-drives) is:

pcmanfm -d


How PCManFM may be autostarted as a daemon process or to manage the desktop for a standalone window manager will depend on the window manager itself. For example, to enable management of the desktop for Openbox, the following command would be added to the ~/.config/openbox/autostart file:

pcmanfm --desktop &

Review the relevant wiki article and/or official home page for a particular installed or intended window manager. Should a window manager not provide an autostart file, PCManFM may be alternatively autostarted by editing one or both of the following files:

Additional features and functionality

Less experienced users should be aware that a file manager alone - especially when installed in a standalone Window manager such as Openbox - will not provide the features and functionality users of full desktop environments such as Xfce and KDE will be accustomed to. Review the file manager functionality article for further information.

Tips and tricks

One click for open folders and files

Open PCManFM in file explorer mode, go to Edit > Preferences > General > Behavior, and select Open files with a simple click. This option works with desktop icons too.

Open or Extract Archives with PCManFM

Install file-roller or xarchiver from the official repositories.

Open PCManFM in file explorer mode, go to Edit > Preferences > Advanced, select Archiver Integration and select your installed archiver.


No "Applications"

You can try this method: Delete all files in the $HOME/.cache/menus directory, and run PCManFM again.

PCManFM requires the environment variable XDG_MENU_PREFIX to be set. The value of the variable should match the beginning of a file present in the /etc/xdg/menus/ directory. E.g. you can set the value in your .xinitrc file with the line:

export XDG_MENU_PREFIX="lxde-"

See these threads for more informations: [1], and especially this post from the Linux Mint forums: [2]

No icons

If you are using a WM instead of a DE and you have no icons for folders and files, specify a GTK+ icon theme.

If you have e.g. oxygen-icons installed, edit ~/.gtkrc-2.0 or /etc/gtk-2.0/gtkrc and add the following line:

gtk-icon-theme-name = "oxygen"
Note: All instances of PCManFM have to be restarted for changes to apply!

Else, use an different one (gnome, hicolor, and locolor do not work). To list all installed icon themes:

$ ls ~/.icons/ /usr/share/icons/

If none of them is suitable, install one. To list all installable icon packages:

$ pacman -Ss icon-theme
Tip: For an alternative GUI solution, install lxappearance and apply an icon theme from there.

No "Previous/Next Folder" functionality with mouse buttons

A method to fix this is with Xbindkeys.

Install xbindkeys and edit ~/.xbindkeysrc to contain the following:

# Sample .xbindkeysrc for a G9x mouse.
"/usr/bin/xvkbd -text '\[Alt_L]\[Left]'"
"/usr/bin/xvkbd -text '\[Alt_L]\[Right]'"

Actual button codes can be obtained with package xorg-xev.


xbindkeys &

to your ~/.xinitrc to execute xbindkeys on log-in.

--desktop parameter not working or crashing X-server

Make sure you have ownership and write permissions on ~/.config/pcmanfm.

Setting the wallpaper either by using the --desktop-pref parameter or editing ~/.config/pcmanfm/default/pcmanfm.config solves the problem.

Terminal emulator advanced configuration not saved

Make sure you have rights on libfm configuration file:

$ chmod -R 755 ~/.config/libfm
$ chmod 777 ~/.config/libfm/libfm.conf

Make PCManFM remember your preferred Sort Files settings

You can use View > Sort Files to change the order in which PCManFM lists the files, but PCManFM won't remember that the next time you start it. To make it remember, go to Edit > Preferences and close. That will write your current sort_type and sort_by values into ~/.config/pcmanfm/LXDE/pcmanfm.conf.

"Not authorized" errors when accessing/mounting USB drives

See the no password to access partitions and removable media section of the File manager functionality article.

Operation not supported

If you get this error while trying to use automount, network or rubbish bin features, try launching pcmanfm with

$ dbus-launch pcmanfm

If that does not help you might not have the necessary dependencies (gvfs, gamin, udisks2, maybe others). This probably only affects non-DE environments.