When comparing Ranger vs xplorer², the Slant community recommends xplorer² for most people. In the question“What are the best file managers for Windows?” xplorer² is ranked 8th while Ranger is ranked 10th.
Ranked in these QuestionsQuestion Ranking
Pro Minimalist and efficient
There is no need for icons of files if headings are used. Previews of text documents and a simple design creates and efficient workflow.
Pro Can be used in terminal
Which makes for a good choice of file explorer for those that use machines without a GUI.
Pro Extensible, scriptable (with python)
Ranger allows the use of various scripts for calling on individual or multiple files, for file previews, or for other operations.
In commands.py the "my_edit"-function can be extended to do whatever in python can be done. Target files can be the file under the cursor (self.fm.thisfile.path), the files marked/selected in the current tab (self.fm.thistab.get_selection() ) and the files in the copy-buffer (add/remove: ya, yr) (respectively the delete-buffer: add/remove da/dr) (both: self.fm.copy_buffer).
The most appropriate list of files can be found out automatically, like so:
for file in self.fm.copy_buffer:
for file in self.fm.thistab.get_selection():
file = self.fm.thisfile.path
Pro Vim-like bindings
Ranger has Vim-like keybindings which help a lot in increasing efficiency and speed up the workflow.
Pro File preview
Unlike other terminal file managers, Ranger can preview many files, including text files, archives, etc, but also pdf files, pictures and videos.
Pro Image preview support
Ranger can use w3m to preview images in terminal through framebuffer.
Pro Easily used with SSH
Pro PDF preview
This may fall under "File preview", but it is a very powerful feature for PDF files in particular.
Pro Fast and responsive
This software is super fast and responsive in navigation.
Pro Bookmark system
Makes it easy to jump to any specific folder locations you work with.
Pro Treeview and listview (equal viewports) possible
Supports any number of viewports on folders side by side.
Pro Good all-purpose file manager
Pro Faster than most similar applications
It's hard to find a free or low cost alternative that is as quick, and stable, especially managing NTFS volumes on a remote NAS. It still freezes and chokes, just not as often as newer applications, like XYplorer, Free Commander, etc.
Pro Ability to save state
xplorer² gives users the ability to save the state, so the program will open with the same state the next time it's used.
Pro Execute DOS commands
Pro Comprehensive functionality
Full search, sync files & folders, show folder sizes, robust copy, native file viewer, tabs within panes, very configurable display, command shell, bookmarks, etc.
Pro Free version available
There is a free version available, xplorer² Lite, for non-commercial use.
Pro Can create "tabs" of the most used sub directories that you can access with a simple click
Pro Scrap Area where you can drop files located in different sub directories to allow you to access them instantly
Let's say that today you are going to update a letter located in subdir X, continue developing a spreadsheet located in subdir Y, review a presentation located in subdir Z, review a project located in subdir W, etc.. You can drag and drop all these files to the Scrap Area and open and work with them, save them, open again, continue tomorrow and the files will be updated in their respective original locations. No need to navigate and navigate and navigate.
Pro Browse Flat to view the contents of several subdirs as if they were stored in a single dir
Let's say you are located in a given subdir that has 5 subdirs. You can see the contents of all the files located in those subdirs as if they were stored in a single dir. Very useful when you want to locate files that you don't know exactly where they are located and searching is not an option.
Pro Copy/Move many simultaneous tasks
Can display the size in bytes of every folder listed in the current branch of the tree.
Pro Supports TotalCommander plugins
Pro 250+ file attributes that can be added as columns to view more file attributes
Pro Mass rename capability
Pro Connects to network drives and cloud storage easily
Written in a scripted language. Enabling file previews makes it even slower.
Con Difficult learning curve for people who are not used to Vim
Since it uses many of vim's keybindings, it may be hard for someone who does not use vim or does not know how to use vim to learn how to work with this file manager.
Con Depends heavily on third party utilities
Con Lags everywhere, even the redraws show
A script that gathered too much bloat in the name of features over the years. Thunar seems faster than ranger when it should have been the opposite.
Con No way to calculate folder size
Con No built-in ability to navigate FTP/SSH
Most other GUI-based file managers provide easy bookmarking and browsing of multiple FTP & SSH locations using either keys or keychain stored user credentials. Ranger doesn't have this.
Con Needs heavy configuration to setup
Con A great idea but not GUI friendly
May be difficult to get past the fact that it asked for commands dd and cc and the likes to cut and or paste. Arch-Linux normally prides itself on not over-complicating things. Too bad ... a great idea with the 3 Smart Columns, but why would anyone prefer to need to learn 30 commands in order to cut and paste or copy a file or folder, or to see/change permissions.
Con Stagnating rate of development
Any improvements to the software are happening at a glacial pace which is making this software more and more outdated for a long time now.
Only a few minor improvements a year. User suggestions for improvements are routinely rejected or explained away. As for suggesting new features -- you'll quickly abandon all hope. Only realistic reason to visit their support forums is to read Kilmatead's posts -- for anything else prepare to be disappointed.
UPDATE (and slightly offtopic): Kilmatead seems to be no longer active on the forums, so the next best thing is xplorer2 blog which seems to often feature interesting technical topics.
The interface is essentially unchanged since its Windows XP days, with very little customization possible. Organization of features is convoluted, with some simple ones, like individual icons to quickly switch views missing. The stagnant cluttered design can make even long-time users drop the program.