When comparing Thunar vs Dolphin, the Slant community recommends Dolphin for most people. In the question“What are the best Linux file managers?” Dolphin is ranked 2nd while Thunar is ranked 6th. The most important reason people chose Dolphin is:
Like other KDE applications, Dolphin makes use of KIO which gives Dolphin access to other APIs and services. For example, it allows Dolphin to manage files stored remotely the same way you can manage local files through FTP.
Ranked in these QuestionsQuestion Ranking
Pro Custom actions are easy to set up
Use Custom Actions to add right-click options to do things like Open as Root, Open Git GUI, etc. You can filter the file types and filename patterns that the actions will show up for.
To add an "Open as Root" action, go to Edit, Configure custom actions. Assign a name and a description. Set Command as "gksudo xdg-open %f" (you'll need to install gksudo since pkexec won't work). Pick an icon (I prefer "changes-allow"). Under Appearance Conditions, select Directories, Text Files, and Other Files.
Pro Minimal Dependencies
Unlike Nautilus, which requires the whole GNOME desktop, thunar just depends on some XFCE utilities & GTK.
Pro Supports forward/back mouse buttons
Supports the M4 and M5 mouse buttons for forward/back, similarly to most browsers.
Pro Non-recursive find
In a thunar window, any non-directory typing will search in the current directory for the filename that you type (non-recursive, unlike Nautilus)
Pro Supports "quick-directory" typing
While in a Thunar window, typing either a "~" or a "/" will automatically start typing into the "address-bar" and pressing enter goes straight to the typed directory.
Pro Select by Pattern
Select multiple files in the current folder using a wildcard pattern.
Use tabs to open fewer windows. New tabs automatically start in the same location. Tabs can be detached.
Pro Keypress to search in folder
While in a Thunar window, typing a filename automatically selects the first matching file in the current folder.
Pro Supports renaming files in bulk
With also predefined functions as insert (date, numbering,...), search/replace, etc ...
Pro Can assign custom shortcuts to scripts in XFCE
Thunar can use the editable accelerator feature of XFCE.
xfce4-appearance-settings in terminal, go to settings tab, check "enable editable accelerator". Now open any command in Thunar menu, hover to a command, i.e. your custom "places" or your custom command, then press any combination to assign a shortcut to it.
be careful tho, cause it will also remove the shortcut from other command.
Pro Can split views
Dolphin supports splitting the view in two navigational areas, this way you can navigate two different directories at the same time.
Pro Easy to extend with plugins
Dolphin follows KDE's philosophy of being extendable and configurable. It can easily be configured and customized through plugins.
Pro Integrated terminal
Perssing F4 with any opened folder on a mounted path opens a konsole within dolphin.
Pro Auto mounts flash drives
Dolphin automatically identifies and mounts external flash drives.
Pro Immenseley configurable
As with any KDE app, Dolphin, allows adding or modifying toolbar buttons and keyboard shortcuts.
Pro Fast at opening graphics folders
Pictures with or without previews is optional and selectable at the touch of a button.
Pro Also has a refresh option
Dolphin is without a doubt the best fully functional and easy to use and multitask with.
• Dolphin also has a refresh button which no other File manager has. It's great for tracking a large files transfer; that's what file managers are for - good common sense.
Pro Fully supports HiDPI
Supports HiDPI displays.
Con Tree sidepane missing features
When the sidepane is in Tree mode, it does not show Places (Favorites). It also doesn't collapse folders (like Windows Explorer), adding to clutter.
Con Simplified action bar
The action bar on Thunar is very simple and doesn't have as many features and buttons as other file managers. It only has a back, forward, up, and home buttons as well as the folder path.
Con Requires plugins for some basic functions of modern file managers
Con Requires GNOME dependencies to support common features
Thunar relies on GVFS to support mounting disks or accessing web folders, however since GVFS is a third party GNOME library and made for the use in the GNOME environment its often incompatible to Thunar stable releases which results into crashes and other issues
Con No Split View without a patch, which can be a deal breaker
This limitation can be quite annoying indeed.. thanks for the heads up!
Con Does not integrate well into Gnome
Con Slightly unstable
Thunar crashes some times on file moves, copy-pasting etc. The developers are working on it, but it's taken a while.
Con Image thumbnails sometimes wrong
There seems to be a bug where sometimes images get the wrong thumbnail, this can lead to data-loss.
Con "Type" column too verbose
Despite having a large enough monitor, If you keep the size of the browser window small, the "Type" column (in "Details" view mode) insists on including the complete multipart MIME string, making the column so wide that trying to limit its width makes the column useless. Sorting by "Type" renders the list into an incomprehensible mess.
Con Maybe a little slow on startup
Dolphin can be a little slow on startup (depending on distro, hardware etc...). Startup time can vary from a couple of seconds to up to a minute.