I like Nautilus, but it suffers from lag when navigating between folders. I estimate the delay at somewhere between 300ms-800ms. Not much, but enough to notice and feel sluggish compared to Windows Explorer (running on Windows 7 on the same machine on a different disk).

Are there alternatives that will respond more quickly?

N.B. I'm running 12.10. The Ubuntu partition is on an SSD while the Win7 partition is on an HDD, so I find the difference in responsiveness particularly strange.

  • 1
    The suggestions made will probably help out, but...something sounds very wrong. Nautilus (on xubuntu) runs as snappily as any of the other file managers for me. Have you tried working out what it's doing, like running top or something while you're using it?
    – Ash
    Mar 31, 2013 at 12:44
  • See also: askubuntu.com/questions/28556/… Apr 1, 2013 at 6:50
  • 1
    @Ash The OP's observations are accurate. Especially when handling folders witha large number of files Nautilus quickly becomes unresponsive and sluggish. There are several popular bug reports on launchpad describing these issues. Here's only a small selection: bugs.launchpad.net/nautilus/+bug/869793 bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/nautilus/+bug/952108 . Apr 1, 2013 at 14:12
  • @jil6 Consider subscribing to the bug reports above to get development updates on these issues. It will also help if you reiterate your experience with Nautilus on there. Any additional information can be of help. Apr 1, 2013 at 14:13

3 Answers 3


Thunar file manager is designed to be fast, lightweight, and easy-to-use.

To install Thunar in Ubuntu 12.10, just press Ctrl+Alt+T on your keyboard to open Terminal. When it opens, run the command below:

sudo apt-get install thunar

For Ubuntu 12.04, add the Xfce 4.12 PPA. To do so, just press Ctrl+Alt+T on your keyboard to open Terminal. When it opens, run the command below:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:xubuntu-dev/xfce-4.12
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade
sudo apt-get install thunar


Both Thunar and PCManFM are valid alternatives to Nautilus and more responsive in general, with PCManFM being ever so slightly faster than Thunar. As both of these options have already been mentioned in different answers I would like to point you to yet another alternate file browser: Dolphin.


Out of all file managers on Ubuntu, Dolphin it is both the fastest and most feature-rich. However, as a Kubuntu application it comes with a long list of KDE dependencies. These won't harm you but will take up additional disk space. And because Dolphin does not use the shared GNOME libraries it will likely take slightly longer to start than the aforementioned alternatives.


You can install dolphin with:

sudo apt-get update && apt-get install dolphin --no-install-recommends

Setting up the default

Here is a Q&A on setting an alternate file manager up as Ubuntu's default:

How to set up Dolphin as default file manager?

This Q&A deals with Dolphin, specifically:

How to run Dolphin instead of Nautilus?


PcManFM is a small and very fast file manager which is used in Lubuntu and is very easy to install through the Software Center.

Here is a tutorial on setting up PCManFM as the default file manager on Ubuntu:

How to set PcManFm as the default file manager?

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