Tips and Tricks for KDE 5 Dolphin File Manager

Mike Turcotte-McCusker
Mar 1, 2018
Updated • Aug 6, 2019

Years ago when the KDE team decided to move from Konquerer to Dolphin in KDE4, it was controversial, with some people in support of the move, and others against it.

Now, it’s widely recognized that Dolphin is probably the most powerful file manager for GNU/Linux, with a number of features and enhancements to make workflow as simple, quick, and informative as possible.

With that said, I thought I would perhaps share just a few things that people may overlook in their Dolphin setup, that you might enjoy.

Tip: Read Jack Wallen's Dolphin Tips and Tricks article as well.

Note: To display the menubar, use Ctrl-M. You may also enable it from the Settings menu or the Control button.

1. Set all folders to have the same settings, for easy-on-the-mind workflow

Something I dislike about some systems, is when different folders have different tree views, or incorporate previews/not. Perhaps it’s just me, but I like things uniform, it helps me to never have to look for something that isn’t there. So, to enable this:

Click Settings > Configure Dolphin > General > and then select “Use Common properties for all folders” from the Behavior tab, under the ‘view’ subheading at the top (It’s what you’re staring at by default when you click “General.”) Now, any settings we make from here on out, will remain regardless of where you navigate.

2. Show file sizes / number of items in folders under filenames

I like my file manager to have all my core information in front of me, without having to dig. The incorporation of the filesize of individual files, and the number of files in a folder, being placed under the names of files/folders is an incredible little enhancement that adds a whole slew of new information to your brain, that depending on your work at hand can be very useful to have!

View > Additional Information > Size

3. Add a Terminal to Dolphin

There have been so many times where I have been working on something back and forth between a terminal and graphical tools, that the incorporation of a Terminal inside my file manager was like someone gave a pizza cook the first roller knife thing. Needless to say, it’s become a staple of my workflow.

View > Panels > Terminal

Resize the terminal to fit as you desire, and now have easy access if ever needed!

4. Show Hidden Files/Folders

This one is obvious. Your home folder is like your C:/Username/ directory in Windows, with your documents, downloads, pictures etc. But the home folder is also kinda like your /Program Files/ folder too, containing a lot of information from installed software.

Actually, the vast majority of space used, and sensitive information, is located in your home folder. That said, you’ll want to be able to properly view everything in the home folder, which is hidden by default.

View > Hidden Files

5. Editable Location Bar

Being able to directly type the location you want, is handy for obvious reasons. Nuff said.

View > Location Bar > Editable Location Bar

6. Split View and Preview

There are two buttons at the top of the window, for “Preview” and “Split,” I usually run with both of these selected as well. Preview, shows thumbnails on the files and the side of the screen (Super useful for me as someone who deals with a lot of photographs and images), and the split button gives me two sections of file manager, for easy copy/paste/comparisons.

Now you: Do you have any other tips / tricks you use for Dolphin? Let us know in the comments!

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  1. Tol said on January 19, 2022 at 4:54 pm

    I can’t see any way to add [..] in top of the folders to move to the parent folder the way it was in Conqueror. I found “folder up” button in toolbar, but this is much less convenient.

  2. meso said on June 22, 2021 at 1:11 pm

    Dolphin is the closest file manager to my favourite FreeCommander on Windows. I am missing one feature though. Can Dolphin temporarily flatten a folder and its subfolders to show all files and subfolders any number of levels down into that folder? This is indispensable sometimes. But otherwise, Dolphin is incredibly versatile.

  3. Abhi said on March 24, 2020 at 8:18 am

    Thanks for the tips! I have one question though. Why doesn’t Dolphin reload files automatically? If a new file is downloaded or added to a folder, one has to presse F5 or click refresh to see it. This feels very weird.

  4. Matt said on August 6, 2019 at 9:32 pm

    The version I have has moved from the menu bar you list in the instructions to a single control button.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 6, 2019 at 9:43 pm

      Thank you Matt! You can still display the menubar by using Ctrl-M or by enabling it again in the Settings menu or Control button. I have updated the article to highlight that.

  5. Mateusz Polak said on November 30, 2018 at 9:21 pm

    I do love KDE for years and I still think, that it should replace this piece of shit called MSWindows…. but Dolphin without Columns View aka Miller Columns is just useless…

  6. Swim with Dolphin said on March 3, 2018 at 1:46 am

    Nice article. Only problem with KDE software is that it works best in KDE (many dependencies). Also wasn’t Dolphin file copy dialog integrated in the Plasma shell? Maybe they have removed that now, because that’s not good when using Dolphin in another DE. I don’t think it’s possible to use Dolphin as root anymore. Feels a bit like the developer is creating artificial limitations here. Otherwise Dolphin is great.

    1. John Fenderson said on March 5, 2018 at 5:59 pm

      “I don’t think it’s possible to use Dolphin as root anymore”

      You can use Dolphin as root with the version that is in the current Debian repository.

      1. Swim with Dolphin said on March 5, 2018 at 10:55 pm

        That is good news, thank you!

      2. Deltakprime said on October 2, 2019 at 9:19 pm


        Thanks for the info, much appreciated.

        I was looking for a way to use Dolphin’s block mass select & copy routine that does NOT write the copied files to show the copy date as the creation date, so that I can easily sort & search the copied files by date of origin, but as is, Dolphin resets all the dates on the copied files to be the date of copy, not creation.

        I didn’t see any setting I could change in Dophin’s configuration utility.

        Any ideas?

        Thanks again.

  7. John Fenderson said on March 1, 2018 at 5:54 pm

    I’m a fan of Dolphin. I didn’t realize that the switch from Konq was controversial — I viewed it with relief, because Konq has never given me anything but trouble. Dolphin is trouble-free for me.

  8. madxrx5 said on March 1, 2018 at 10:43 am

    Speaking for KDE, Falkon 3.0.0 (Ex QupZilla) released!

  9. Paul(us) said on March 1, 2018 at 10:22 am

    Hello Mike,
    I am very much obliged to you for this really well written en highly informative article again.

    I am wondering or I can (and also should ) use in a Windows 10 environment?
    This because when I look at the Windows page the last movement seems to be from 26 March 2016?

    Do you maybe also know the safest download link for Windows and Linux?

    1. Mike Turcotte said on March 1, 2018 at 4:03 pm


      I do not recommend using KDE in a Windows environment. I used it years ago, and it wasn’t pretty. I personally recommend you use KDE in Linux, and Windows in Windows ;)

      1. Paul(us) said on March 1, 2018 at 4:42 pm

        Thanks, Mike,
        I will stick than to main freeware file managers like there are Tablaus explorer, FreeCommnaderXE, and double commander.

      2. lehnerus2000 said on March 3, 2018 at 2:55 am

        I use FreeCommander when I need to do anything other than basic file management (in W7).

        The Mass Rename tool is excellent.

      3. Luca said on March 2, 2018 at 9:43 am

        don’t forget FAR Manager

      4. Paul(us) said on March 3, 2018 at 11:45 am

        Luca, Thanks for the tip.
        I was not familiar with this file manager and I have already installed it and up to right now I like what I see.

        Are you also familiar with free programs like unreal commander, total commander, multi-commander, Konvertor, EF Commander, Directory Opus and Ablacus Explorer?

        When you familiar with other file managers I really like the here from you (on anybody else).

    2. Dog said on March 1, 2018 at 3:11 pm

      I did run KDE under windows back in the win xp days.
      It was not the elegant solution. Running any kde based program meant downloading the entire framework. Back then this took all day to install. The list of packages was endless.

      I tried Kate text editor. Its good that there are some seperate binaries.
      But like you wrote it seems the KDE for windows has gone silent the last year.
      There is no binary for Dolphin at least what I can see..

      For linux you just go to the repository of your distro and install all base kde packages and then install dolphin.
      For windows there no longer is a binary so you need to compile from the source code with emerge (not emerge from gentoo)

  10. ams said on March 1, 2018 at 8:38 am

    Mike, can you suggest “best place to learn about available Dolphin addons”?

    shortlist (I don’t know whether these are “best”) from my brower bookmarks:

    I’m unsure of the proper term. Services? Service addons?

    1. Mike Turcotte said on March 1, 2018 at 4:01 pm


      Personally, I’d say that the KDE store is indeed a good place to find addons for Dolphin. I don’t have any preference for third party websites with said addons, because truthfully I spent more time in a terminal for file management, than I do in Dolphin. But, poking around in the store just now, there’s a few things I spy that I might check out myself.

  11. Luca said on March 1, 2018 at 8:25 am

    Dolphin is one of the best file manager I’ve even used in Linux and it’s getting better and better on every KDE release!

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