muCommander is a cross-platform, open source file manager

Mar 1, 2020
Updated • Mar 3, 2020
Software, Windows software

Total Commander has been the favorite file manager of many users for decades. It's no surprise that it has been the inspiration for many clones.

muCommander is a cross-platform, open source file manager

muCommander is one of these, and happens to be an open source alternative. The program is available for macOS, Windows, and Linux.

Here's a comparison of the interfaces of Total Commander and muCommander. The latter's GUI is perhaps a bit easier on the eyes, that's probably due to the theme and the icons on the toolbar.

Total commander vs muCommander

But it's the features that are important. muCommander has a two-pane interface, obviously. You can switch to a horizontal view from the Window menu. Not a fan of the dual-pane view? Switch to the single pane mode. There is an optional tree view that can be enabled as well. An address bar is available at the top of each pane, to the left of which is a drive switcher menu button.

There are five columns displayed in the interface: Extensions (which is the icon column on the left edge), file name, size, Date, Permissions. These can be toggled from the View menu's Show/Hide Columns. Drag and drop a column to rearrange the order.

Right-clicking inside the interface brings up a context menu that's used for opening files in their default handler, or load the location in Explorer. You can also use the menu to copy files, or just the file names, base names or the path of the files. Working with a bunch of files or folders? Use the mark and unmark options, there are mark all and unmark all menu items too. One useful feature here is the "Change Permissions" options that lets you set the Read, Write and Executable permission for each file and folder on a per-user or group basis.

mucommander context menu

The program has an archiver tool built-in that you can use to pack ZIP, TAR, GZip, BZip2 formats. Unpacking support includes 7z, RAR among other popular formats. The File Menu has a checksum value checker tool, a file splitter and joiner, and a batch rename utility.

The application remembers the previous session and opens the last accessed folders when you start it again. This behavior can be changed from the Preferences. muCommander can be used to setup and connect to your FTP, SMB, SFTP, S3, HTTP, HDFS, NFS, VSPHERE servers. You may also email files directly from the application. Bookmarks can be added to quickly jump to your favorite folders.

The command bar at the bottom displays some functions that you can access, these can also be used by using the hotkeys F3-F10. muCommander features a built-in text and image viewer that can be accessed from the command bar or the F3 key. There is an internal editor too, but this only works with text files.

The Refresh button in the Command Bar is an extra option that most File Managers don't have. Speaking of which, you can customize the bottom bar from the View menu and there are a whole host of shortcuts to choose from.

mucommander command bar

The program has a handful of themes to choose from including a retro theme that's similar to Norton Commander, a dark theme and some sub-theme styles as well.

muCommander is keyboard friendly and there are many shortcuts that you can use and customize. The program requires Java to run. The Linux version is quite identical to the Windows version.

muCommander Linux

Though the current build was updated a year ago, the developer has been working on it, and has recently hinted that a new version will be released soon.

Of the many Total Commander clones out there, muCommander is one of the better ones.

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  1. webfork said on March 10, 2020 at 8:24 pm

    Mac users in particular will want to take another look at this program because muCommander is the ONLY free program I’ve been able to find for creating ZIP files with a file manager structure similar to 7zip, WinZip, WinRAR, etc. Certainly Mac has other tools to compress your files (Keka is my favorite) but not where you can create, update, delete, and otherwise manage ZIP archives. Except for muCommander, every other tool either compresses everything or uncompress everything with no middle ground.

    I use it on my Windows machine as muCommander also has an excellent file transfer tool that shows progression of transfers using a graph view that can help identify sluggish or poor connections.

    Thanks for highlighting this excellent program. Next look at CubicExplorer’s favorites tool – it’s awesome.

  2. Arik Hadas said on March 6, 2020 at 5:55 pm

    Ashwin, thank you very much for the positive review!
    Version 0.9.4 has just been released :)

    I’ll address some of the comments:

    As from version 0.9.4, muCommander is shipped with the Java 11’s JRE bundled for macOS and Windows (for Windows, there’s also an unbundled installation) so users don’t have to install Java.

    The fact we use Java ease the production of a cross-platform application and the use of client libraries for various file protocols and formats. Going forward, we plan to leverage the pluggable design that is introduced in version 0.9.4 to add more protocols, like dropbox, most of them provide Java client libraries.

    Bundling the JRE as we do now enlarges the size of the installation files. We plan to explore the ability to shrink the JRE for our needs (something that was introduced in Java 9 IIRC).

    As for Oracle, the JRE we bundle are actually taken from AdoptOpenJDK. muCommander works with either Oracle’s Java or OpenJDK. Note that OpenJDK is not lead Oracle:
    (Disclaimer: I work for Red Hat, not on OpenJDK though)

    I’ve included MD5 of the artifacts of version 0.9.4 on both the website [1] and Github [2].

    I’m not aware of issues in the uninstall process under Windows. In case of issues, please file bugs [3] and we’ll be glad to investigate them.

    Please feel free to file issues on bugs or enhancements you’d like to have or discuss them on Gitter [4] !


  3. bob said on March 3, 2020 at 9:19 pm

    Java needed?.
    No, thanks….

    I’m sticking w/ Dolphin and DoubleCommander
    (under Ubuntu Linux).

  4. Emil said on March 2, 2020 at 2:02 pm

    These useless “software tips” articles about some mediocre and disappointing programs are really just like spam, they don’t help ghacks at all. I used to come here because almost every article was highly relevant and interesting.

    1. Gerard said on March 3, 2020 at 1:27 pm

      Emil, now that’s what I call a constructive “contribution”.
      Why don’t you write a review yourself? For you can do lot better, can’t you? Well, perhaps in your own imagination.

      1. Josi said on March 8, 2020 at 6:10 pm

        Tha’ts the fallacy of “If you can’t do better, don’t complain.” People couldn’t complain even about bad toilet paper then, could they? Can you make toilet paper?

  5. joe s. said on March 2, 2020 at 6:10 am

    Any recommendation on tabs for windows explorer? there was an article about it a while back, but i could not find it. I’m using Tablacus, but it’s choking under stress. Thanks.

    1. oweiv said on March 6, 2020 at 8:25 pm

      Explorer++ has tabs, and you can drag/move/copy files between tabs. It doesn’t have a 2 pane GUI, but you can snap another instance of Explorer++ to achieve the same.

      It’s runs fast and is portable, or you can install it as your main file manager.

      It’s free with no ads or nags.

      The only downsize I have is the font size in the GUI is a little small, with no way to make them larger.

  6. Seth R said on March 1, 2020 at 11:59 pm

    I actually installed muCommander; I did not like that it downloads its own installation files (at least for Windows) without any opportunity for me to check them; My usual uninstall program could not find all the files or search registry properly with this program so I do not know if I have a clean uninstall. There are certainly cleaner and better file managers out there.

  7. allen said on March 1, 2020 at 7:39 pm

    You had me at Norton Commander. :D

  8. Anonymous said on March 1, 2020 at 7:12 pm

    Looks interesting but I don’t use any program that requires Java.

  9. Anonymous said on March 1, 2020 at 5:11 pm

    Java runtime? Are you kidding me?

  10. Maarten said on March 1, 2020 at 4:16 pm

    > “Of the many Total Commander clones out there, muCommander is one of the better ones.”
    I have read the article, but it still is not obvious to me why muCommander is one of the better ones. Can you explain why?

    At first I was enthusiastic about muCommander: a new filemanager for my (30+, I estimate) file manager collection.
    Until I read that it needs Java…

    I agree with @Arne Anka: Java is a no-go. Java is a very mature programming language, but it has one big problem: it is owned by Oracle.
    If there is one thing I have learned in all my IT years inside a lot of different companies: IF Oracle THEN financial and/or legal troubles.

    I stay away from Oracle products.

  11. Anonymous said on March 1, 2020 at 3:33 pm

    Same. Double Commander is getting there, though.

  12. Gerard said on March 1, 2020 at 3:22 pm

    Double Commander is another cross-platform Total Commander “clone” and does not need Java. There are builds for Linux distros, MS Windows, Mac OS and FreeBSD.


  13. Arne Anka said on March 1, 2020 at 11:46 am

    Last update 2018 and need Java… No Thank You…

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