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Dolphin is the default file manager in MEPIS 8.5 and later. If you are using previous versions of MEPIS, see Konqueror.


Dolphin: the KDE 4 Filemanager

Dolphin is a fantastic file manager once you get to know it. However, many of Dolphin's features are either not well known, or not apparent to newer users. Here is an overview of the main areas in the Dolphin window, with some tweaks you can perform to make your Dolphin experience more productive.

The Dolphin Interface

The default Dolphin interface consists of a (1) Menu Bar, (2) Tool Bar, (3) Location/Navigation Bar, (4) Workspace, (5) Information Panel, (6) Places Panel, (7) Folders Panel, (8) Terminal Panel and (9) Status Bar.

Here is the KDE documentation page with illustrations, if you need to familiarize yourself: Dolphin User interface

The basic layout is: the first 3 bars are at the top, the Workspace is the largest central portion of the window, and the Information Panel is at the right. On the left are the Places Panel and Folders Panel. The Terminal Panel and Status Bar are at the bottom of the Workspace.

1 — Menu Bar

The Menu Bar at the top is the foundation of Dolphin's configuration and operations functions. Each of the following categories has a drop-down menu list:

Files      Edit      View      Go      Tools      Settings      Help

Files and Edit contain commands for file operations. Go provides a few simple navigation commands. View, Tools, and Settings contain various quick configuration options that govern what you see as part of the Dolphin window, and change the way files are displayed in the main Workspace area.

Settings --> Configure Dolphin gives you the Dolphin Preferences window. You will definitely want to familiarize yourself with the settings in the six categories in the left column of this window. They control the most basic aspects of the look and the operation of Dolphin that it is possible for the user to easily configure. You go here to set things like the font used in displaying filenames, the size of icons, whether a single or double-click opens a file — and much more.

View Click on 'View' in Dolphin's toolbar, then click on 'Show Hidden Files' so that you will be able to see hidden files. Those are the files/directories that begin with a period/dot. Such as '/.local'.

Unlike the filemanager in KDE3, Dolphin remembers your settings automatically. So whatever state you left Dolphin configured when you closed it will also be the way it looks the next time you launch it.

Tip: <CTRL>+<m> toggles the menu bar off and on. If you need to temporarily get rid of it to maximize working space in the Dolphin window, remember the way to get it back! Most of your Dolphin configuration controls are accessed though the Menu Bar, so you'll want it back at some point, and unlike the other Dolphin toolbars and panels, there isn't a way to turn it off and on by right-clicking in the top toolbar area.

2 — Tool Bar

The Tool Bar is the strip of icons just below the Menu Bar. It gives immediate access to a limited set of one-click command operations that would otherwise require opening up the relevent heading in the Menu Bar, or using the right keystroke combination. Although the Tool Bar comes with a default set of icons/commands, it is able to be completely customized to display only the operations you believe you'll most often need.

Customize the main tool bar

Change the toolbar to add the up arrow (up a directory), one of the handiest buttons on the toolbar — and necessary if you enable full editable paths (see 3: Location Bar).

  • Settings > Configure toolbars ....
    Choose Main toolbar, and add the up arrow from the left panel to the right panel. Place it so it is between the existing previous and next buttons. Make any other changes you'd also prefer.
  • Note that you can also get to the toolbar customization menu by right clicking in the toolbar area. You can also change icon size, orientation and a plethora of other options.

3 — Navigation Bar (Location Bar)

Breadcrumbs vs. Location Bar

Konqueror has a web-browser-style location bar that allows you to type in the file path you want to reach. KDE 4 has introduced a feature in Dolphin called 'breadcrumbs', which is the default.

Each directory in a path hierarchy is a button that can be clicked to quickly open that folder, and you can use these breadcrumbs to navigate back any number of steps. Moreover, clicking the “>” sign to the right of a folder opens a menu which permits you to quickly open a subfolder of that folder.

If you ever need to type a path in directly, move your mouse to the end of the path until the mouse pointer turns into a cursor selection. Then, just left-click, and you get an editable location bar.

Show the full file location path

Many users find this invaluable — especially for copying/pasting. To toggle this feature on:

  1. Show full file location path using the Menu: View > Navigation Bar > Editable Location, or by the key-combo shortcut <CTRL>+<L>.
  2. You can set this view to be default with Settings > Configure Dolphin > StartUp tab —checking the two tick boxes.

4 — Workspace

The Workspace is the main part of the Dolphin window, and can be customized in several ways through the Menu bar and/or Tool Bar.

  • You can toggle a split mode (two panes like krusader) with the F3 key. You can also add the split panes button to your main toolbar if not there by default. This makes it really easy for dragging and dropping.
  • There are 3 buttons on the main toolbar - for default viewing as icons, details and columns. The columns is good for showing a hierarchal tree system ie drive, folder, files. The icon or detail view are the most commonly used.
  • There is also a button on the main toolbar "preview." which you can leave enabled for most of the time. This allows you to preview files - but will also show which folders have pictures in them.
  • To change default alignment, grid spacing, fonts in any of the three views (icon, detail or column) go to Settings > Configure Dolphin > View Modes.
  • To change any default icon, right click on the icon you wish to change --> Properties --> General --> click on the icon, take your pick or click on Places and select a category from the list, click on the icon you want to use OK.

5 — Information Panel

Panels can be made visible or invisible through the Menu Bar > View > Panels control, if it is not visible at the right side of the Dolphin window. Also, it can be toggled on or off by using F11. If you do have it on, and want a use for it (if you don't label your partitions, for example), you can use the Comment or Tag links to input a description so that when you click a drive on the left, the name (or a description) comes up in the info panel.

Like any of the other types of panel, the Info Panel can be floating or docked via the diamond icon in the upper right of the panel. The X icon next to the diamond makes the panel disappear.

Right-click within the Information Panel to get a menu of options for what the panel will display, including a preview.

6 — Places Panel

By default the left panel area is is set to Places —and it's the one you'll likely use most often, as it is very easy to customize.


  • You can toggle the Places panel on and off with F9. You can also add another handy panel (folder view) by hitting the F7 key. For easier visibility and switching, enable both - and then drag one on top of the other. They should then both become full length and be available with two bottom tabs for easy switching.
  • To organise the Places file: just drag and drop the icon files for your drives, partitions, frequently-accessed subdirectories, etc. to the order you prefer them to appear.
  • To add shortcuts to your most used directories: simply right click the panel, choose "add entry" and choose a description, a location and an icon. Or: navigate to a directory you want to add. Right click in the main pane and choose "add to places".
  • The biggest plus with the Places Panel is that you can mount a drive/partition (in Mepis) just by clicking on it! To unmount, right click the drive and choose "unmount".
  • When plugged in, USB flash drives will automatically appear in Dolphin's Places Panel! Right-click on the device icon to mount, and again for Safely Remove before unplugging.

Tips for "more better" functionality:

  • If you have icons in the left panel that you don't use, right click and hide them. To get them back, right click an empty section of the panel, choose 'show all entries'. Then right click the entry you hid and untick "hide".
  • Icons can also be changed for folders (not drives or partitions) by right clicking and choosing "edit ...". For example, you can change both home folder and root folder icons to make them more visible. Similarly, other places like network Samba shares, FTP sites and your user-added directories can be edited for easy recognition.
  • To show names for your partitions in Places (let's face it "Volume (ext3)" is not very useful), the best method is to label your partitions. Fire up a liveCD. Run gparted. Label each partition. When you boot back into your installed Mepis, the labels will appear in Dolphin's Places Panel, instead of those generic designations. This makes navigation a lot easier.

7 — Folders Panel

Use F7 to toggle on/off the Folders Panel to the left of the main Workspace.. If the Places Panel is already toggled on, the two can be made to coexist, one above the other, with drag & drop. Use the dragable divider between them to allocate the relative space display to each.

The Folders Panel gives you a traditional tree view of the directory structure of your GNU/linux root filesystem. Long-time Unix/Linux users will probably like to keep this on permanently, with a customizable list in the Places Panel also available for quick access. Showing the Folders Panel with the Split View activated (F3 key) gives you a 21st-century version of "Midnight Commander" style functionality.

As with the Places and Information panels, the diamond in the Folder Panel's upper right corner toggles panel docking/undocking, and the X hides the panel.

8 —Terminal Panel

Press F4 to bring up a terminal panel at the bottom of the window. It will automatically be set in the directory you currently have displayed in Dolphin's Location Bar.

Anytime you navigate to a different location within dolphin, the terminal will change to that directory. This is very useful if you have navigated through several folders and need to do some terminal work there. Instead of having to type in the full path, it will take you there.

9 — Status Bar

Customize the bottom (status) bar

From the menu ... Settings > Configure Dolphin >

  • Under Startup - check the "Show Fiter Bar" box - this allows easy location of files in large directories.
  • Under General - Status Bar tab - check "zoom slider" and "show space information" boxes.
    The zoom slider allows you to easily resize your icon sizing for visibility
    The space info shows available space remaining in the current partition.

Dolphin Functionality

How do I get Dolphin to do what I need to get done? —Here is an overview of what you can accomplish with Dolphin in KDE4.3.

File operations

All common protocols

Copying, moving, and deleting files is just the beginning of Dolphin's functionality. Dolphin uses the KIO slaves like Konqueror does, so it is able access all common protocols like ftp:/, home:/, file:/, system:/, media:/, remote:/, applications:/, sftp:/, fish:/ and smb:/. Set your Navigation Bar to Location Bar mode with the full editable path and type in the protocol and URL address. See here for Location Bar instructions: Dolphin#Show_the_full_file_location_path

How to FTP

In order to smoothly use Dolphin as an FTP client, follow these steps:

  1. Dolphin > Settings > Configure Dolphin > Startup
  2. Check, Editable location bar
  3. Check, Show full path inside location bar
  4. Press OK
  5. Press F3 or click on split.
  6. In the right hand address bar type the desired address like so:
    and then press the enter key.

It will then popup a dialog box asking for the FTP username and password.

The username will already be filled in —you will just have to enter the password. You will then be logged into the remote client, ready to go with the files on your system in the left hand screen, and the files on the remote client in the right hand screen.

Setting View Modes

The Four Workspace View Modes

There are four view modes in Dolphin: icons, details, columns and split view. Use key combination shortcuts to switch between the first three: Ctrl+1, Ctrl+2, and Ctrl+3, or click “View” and choose the view mode you want. Use the F3 key to toggle Split View on and off. You can also have the Main Toolbar set up to display a button for each view mode.

  1. Icons — Each file in the directory is displayed as an icon of its mimetype, with filename and other info underneath.
  2. Details — Each file is displayed by name in the left column, with additional info in additional columns.
  3. Columns — A new column opens up to the right to display the subdirectories of the directory chosen in the first column.
  4. Split — Different directories can be displayed in each half of the Workspace, to facilitate copying and moving files.

The details shown in each of these four main views can be set in the Menu Bar under View.

Thumbnails View

If you have digital photos or other graphic media files, Dolphin can display them without the need to launch an image-viewing utility. For a "thumbnails" view of the files in a directory, try the following:

  • Select both the Icon and Preview buttons in the toolbar. Fine tune with the zoom buttons at the bottom of the window and settings in Dolphin --> Settings --> Configure Dolphin --> General --> Previews
  • Select Dolphin --> Settings --> Configure Dolphin --> General --> Behavior --> Show tooltips, will give you a floating preview with the cursor. This is useful if you have the thumbnail size set lower than the maximum 256px: the pop-up floating preview is set by default to 256px.
  • Via the Synaptic package manager, install mplayerthumbs for add the ability to preview video files. You will need to set Dolphin's preview choices to show the video file thumbnails. ['Configure Dolphin --> General --> Previews --> tick/select Video Files]


  • If the thumbnails or previews for a certain type of file [e.g. jpe or svg] don't show, make sure that file type is checkmarked in the list at Dolphin --> Settings --> Configure Dolphin --> General --> Previews.
  • Via the Synaptic package manager, install kipi-plugins. This should set up the common gwenview/digikam/showfoto plugins.

The Panels

A new feature introduced in Dolphin, there are four possible panels: Places, Folders, Information, and Terminal. There are three settings, and you can display all three, two, one, or even none of them.

To customize placement, you can drag a panel to either side of the window or stack two on top of each other. To add all three to the same panel, right click and check the ones you want to appear. Tabs will appear allowing you to cycle through them.

The Places panel gives you clickable links to the folders you specify.

  • To add a folder, just drag it over to the Places panel.
  • Alternatively, to add a folder, right click on it and click “Add to Places“.
  • Once it is there, you can edit it or remove it.

Dolphin is integrated with other KDE applications, and the “Places” you set in Dolphin will be available in file open and save dialogs in other applications.

See details in these sections of this page:

Information Panel

Places Panel

Folders Panel

Terminal Panel

Dolphin Bookmark System

Dolphin also features a full-featured bookmark system built around file management rather than web browsing.

Classes of KDE4 Bookmarks

  1. Web bookmarks, available only to Konqueror —familiar from KDE 3.5. These are stored in ~/.kde/share/apps/konqueror/bookmarks.xml.
  2. Dolphin's Places This set is available to all other KDE applications, not just the Dolphin file manager. Every time you use File --> Open you will see this set. See above: 6 — Places Panel
  3. Application Bookmarks. These share one file, regardless of the application that set them, and are available to all applications, unless you restrain them to a specific application.

Some typical file management tasks

Right-click "Context menu"

When you right-click on a file you get the "Context Menu". What you see in this menu can be edited/customized. Here is some basic info to do that:

New Entries

You can add functions (For example Root actions, or a Dropbox actions) to the Context Menu these basic ways:

  • In the repos are some servicemenus that can be install easily. Search Synaptic for 'servicemenu'
  • From the internet (for example: you can download desktop config file and save them in these locations:

Universally for all users:


Single users ('user' in this example):


Here a couple ways to edit the Context menu:

  1. Settings >>> Configure Dolphin >>> General >>> Context Menu
  2. Settings >>> Configure Dolphin >>> Services
  3. To edit specific entries (for example, the wording of the entry), go to the directories mentioned above >>> right on the specific 'desktop configuration file' >>> Open with >>> kwrite and directly edit the 'Name' text entry carefully - don't edit anything else!


Dolphin is a typical graphical user interface, and lends itself to dragging and dropping. If you want to copy or move a file quickly, just drag it from one folder to another.

  • When you let go of the button after dragging, KDE gives you an options window: Move here, Copy here, Link here, Cancel. “Link here” creates a symbolic link to your original file, rather than copying or moving it.
  • Press F3 to bring up a split window, Control-N to open a whole new window, or Control-T to open a new tab.
  • You can also drag files to any point in Dolphin’s breadcrumbs, to a folder on the Places or Folders panel, or to a Folderview on your desktop.You can also drag images from your web browser to a folder, if your browser supports it (both Konqueror and the latest Firefox do).

Another way to copy or move is to use shortcut keys. If you hold the shortcut key while dragging a file, it will automatically choose the corresponding action.

  1. Select the files you want to copy and press Control-C to copy, or select the files you want to move and press Control-X to delete.
  2. Then, paste them in the new location, just like pasting text in a word processor, by pressing Control-V.

Another feature that many found useful in KDE 3.5 is the right-click context menu. To enable this:

  1. Click “Settings” and “Configure Dolphin”
  2. Click “General”
  3. Click “Context Menu”
  4. Check “Show ‘Copy To’ and ‘Move To’ commands.

Now, when you right click on a file, you will notice the Copy To option in the menu. Navigate through the handy submenu to the place where you want to copy the file, and click on Copy Here. The same method will work for Move To. Recent destinations for each operation will remain displayed at the bottom of the submenu for easy access.


There are three easy ways to rename a file:

  1. Select the file and then click “File” and “Rename…”.
  2. Right click on the file and click “Rename…”
  3. Select the file and press F2.

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