Midnight Commander: The industry standard

I know there are people who manage files and directories strictly from the command line, and eschew file managers as a general rule.

Personally I see no problem with that. There are some file- or directory-oriented chores that are better left to other tools, and not file managers.

It’s equally true that there are some times when a file manager is just the easiest and quickest way to do the job.


I’ve mentioned Midnight Commander probably a thousand times in the past six or seven years, between this site and the old one. For my money, it’s still the best tool for moving things around gracefully and quickly.

Like everything, it has its share of peculiarities. But most are easily overcome through the drop-down menus and a quick glance at the man page.

mc is theme-able, can handle FTP transfers, can decompress archives into virtual directories (so you don’t have to decompress a file to skim through it), has custom menus and key sequences, mouse support, built-in editor, built-in viewer, file associations, bookmarking, tab completion, and a lot more. And best of all, it’s actively — very actively — maintained.

Oh, and it has color. :mrgreen:

I called it the industry standard in the title, and I don’t think that’s a misnomer. Any text-based file manager (or graphical, for that matter) has to stand up to mc before I’ll consider adding it to my stable. mc shows where a newcomer is obscure, incomplete, obtuse or just inconvenient.

And I guess that’s the best I can say about a program — that it’s what I use to judge others. 😐

17 thoughts on “Midnight Commander: The industry standard

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  2. Scott Hansen

    I really hope you try out Ranger (http://www.nongnu.org/ranger/) and compare it to MC. In my opinion, Ranger is substantially more user-friendly than MC, especially for Vim users. It’s also very easily extensible and can even be taught to act as an image file viewer…quite a feat for a command line file manager 🙂


  3. Lumpy Gravy

    But MC has practically no dependencies while Ranger is coded in Python which takes up at least 50 MB and possible much more. In a lean, mean console based system this makes only sense if there are also other applications that depend on Python.

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