When comparing Thunar vs nnn, the Slant community recommends nnn for most people. In the question“What are the best Linux file managers?” nnn is ranked 1st while Thunar is ranked 5th.
Ranked in these QuestionsQuestion Ranking
Pro Minimal dependencies
Unlike Nautilus, which requires the whole GNOME desktop, thunar just depends on some XFCE utilities & GTK.
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.
Use tabs to open fewer windows. New tabs automatically start in the same location. Tabs can be detached.
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 Supports renaming files in bulk
With also predefined functions as insert (date, numbering,...), search/replace, etc ...
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 Select by Pattern
Select multiple files in the current folder using a wildcard pattern.
Pro does the job
but just the job...
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 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 forward/back mouse buttons
Supports the M4 and M5 mouse buttons for forward/back, similarly to most browsers.
Pro Extremely lightweight (55 kb)
Pro Rich set of plugins
Pro Has a great wiki
Pro Minimal configuration with sane defaults
Default options and navigation is simple to grasp.
Pro Unique navigate-as-you-type mode
Pro Awesome new features being added in every release
Pro Integrates with the desktop environment and opens files in the default applications
Save and resume sessions.
Pro Supports cd-on-quit
Allows for quick switching between nnn and the terminal.
Pro Reasonably well-documented
However, it requires some prior knowledge of inner workings of Linux and there are no tutorials (yet). NNN author is making up for this by actively responding to GitHub issues.
Con No integrated search option
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 No usable image view mode
Setting view to "icons" doesn't satisfy. The icons are too small to see the image.
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 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 Does not integrate well into Gnome
Con Won't write to any removable media that has been on an Apple machine
Removing dot-files that Apple puts on the media (like .fseversd) allows Thunar to write to it.
Con Requires plugins for some basic functions of modern file managers
Con no double pane support
working all in all quite good out of the box,
but windows are too big, drag & drop is working, but useless on an one window file manager...
Even for novice users to weak for every days work
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 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.