lfm - Last File Manager

Author: Iñigo Serna, inigoserna AT gmail DOT com
Version: 3.1, June 25th. 2017
Home page:https://inigo.katxi.org/devel/lfm/
Copyright © 2001-17, Iñigo Serna
This software has been realised under the GPL License version 3 or later, read the COPYING file that comes with this package for more information.
Last update:Sun, 25 Jun 2017 - 18:51:46

Table of Contents


Last File Manager is a powerful file manager for the UNIX console. It has a curses interface and it's written in Python v3.4+.

Some of the features you can find in lfm:

Some screenshots:

Last File Manager
lfm-1.png lfm-2.png
Tabs and compressed file VFS File completion
lfm-3.png lfm-4.png
Tree view Edit filter
lfm-5.png lfm-6.png
PowerCLI Find & grep

When lfm starts the first time, it tries to discover the location of some programs in your system to configure itself automatically, but you should take a look to the configuration (General Menu [F9] -> Edit Configuration [c]) in case you want to change something.

Consult Customization section for in-depth knowledgement about all the settings and their meaning.

Finally, take a look at TODO file to check known bugs and not-implemented-yet™ features.

Last File Manager development can be followed in the BitBucket mercurial repository.

Download and installation


lfm is written in Python language and has a text-based ncurses interface.

It should run with Python v3.4 or higher and doesn't need additional modules or any other dependencies, only those provided by the python standard library.

For systems with Python v2.x only, use the old version lfm v2.3.

All modern UNIX flavours (Linux, *BSD, Solaris, etc) should run it without problems. But note I mostly tested the new 3.x series on Linux. If they appear any issues please notify me.


lfm is very easy to install, select one of these options.

  • First, check if your OS include lfm in their repositories. Type as root:

    # dnf install lfm       # fedora/redhat/centos/…

    # pacman -S lfm         # archlinux

    # apt-get install lfm   # debian/ubuntu/mint/…

    NOTE 1: be sure to install lfm version 3 or higher, not old version 2.3!

    NOTE 2: lfm is not usually included in main distributions repositories.

  • Using pip:

    $ pip install lfm

  • To install from sources:

    1. Download sources
    2. Uncompress file: $ tar xvfz lfm-3.1.tar.gz
    3. Enter the directory and build: $ python setup.py build
    4. Install, as root: # python setup.py install

    WARNING: Remember lfm 3.x requires Python 3.4+. If you have installed both python 2.x and 3.x versions on your system, change python with python3 and pip with pip3 above.

Now to run it:
$ lfm
and to change default settings:
General Menu [F9] -> Edit Configuration [c]

To let lfm to change to panel's current directory after quiting with q or F10 keys, you must add next code to /etc/bashrc or to your ~/.bashrc:

      /usr/bin/lfm "$@"             # type here full path to lfm script
      cd "`cat $LFMPATHFILE`" && rm -f $LFMPATHFILE

If you don't use bash or csh shell, above lines could differ.

Upgrading from 2.x to 3.x

Some notes about the upgrade process from lfm version 2.x to 3.x:

  • lfm 3.0 has been almost completely rewritten from scratch, and it hasn't been tested as much as lfm v2.x series on non-linux OS.
  • lfm 3.x requires python 3.4+, it will not work with python 2.x.
  • Configuration has moved from the file ~/.lfmrc to the directory ~/.config/lfm/. You can delete ~/.lfmrc from your system as it is not used anymore. See section Customization later.
  • Also, note that some key bindings and PowerCLI variables have changed since previous versions. Read documentation carefully.
  • pyview —the file viewer— has been removed from lfm package, as well as old references to it in configuration, code and documentation. Thus, default viewer has been changed to less. See FAQ entry.

More information in the NEWS file.

Keys shortcuts

In this section you can find the complete list of key shortcuts used in lfm. Read Key bindings section if you want to customize them.


  • Movement
    • up, k
    • down, j
    • page_up, backspace, Ctrl-p
    • page_down, space, Ctrl-n
    • Ctrl-up: move cursor up 10
    • Ctrl-down: move cursor down 10
    • home, Ctrl-a: move cursor to first file
    • end, Ctrl-e: move cursor to last file
    • Ctrl-s: go to file whose name contains…
    • Alt-s: go to file whose first letter is…
  • Change directory
    • left: parent dir
    • right, enter: enter dir / vfs
    • g: go to directory…
    • b: go to bookmark… [0-9a-z]
    • B: set bookmark… [0-9a-z]
    • Ctrl-d: select bookmark from menu…
    • Ctrl-y: select directory from navigation history…
  • Panes
    • tab: other pane
    • =: show same directory in both panes
    • , Ctrl-u: change panes position (left<->right)
    • .: toggle display 1 or 2 panes
    • Ctrl-h: toggle show/hide dot-files
    • Ctrl-f: edit filter for active tab…
    • s: sort files by…
    • #: show selected/all directories size
    • Ctrl-r: refresh contents
    • Alt-r: redraw screen
  • Tabs
    • :: new tab
    • !: close tab
    • <: go to left tab
    • >: go to right tab
  • Selections
    • insert: select item and move cursor to next file
    • +: select group…
    • -: deselect group…
    • *: invert selection
  • Files / Directories operations
    • F2: rename file/dir…
    • F3: view file
    • F4: edit file
    • F5: copy file/dir/selection…
    • F6: move file/dir/selection…
    • F7: make directory…
    • F8: delete file/dir/selection
    • enter: execute file, enter dir / vfs or view 'specially' depending on the extension of the regular file. It is executed in a thread that can be stopped and captures output
    • @: exec on file… (output is not captured)
    • t: touch file…
    • l: create link…
    • L: edit link…
    • i: show file info
  • Other
    • /: find/grep files…
    • Ctrl-t: tree
    • Ctrl-o: open shell. Type 'exit' or press Ctrl-d to return to lfm
    • Ctrl-x: toggle show/hide PowerCLI
    • F12: file menu
      • @: exec on file(s) (output is not captured)
      • i: show file info
      • p: change file(s) permissions…
      • o: change file(s) owner and/or group…
      • a: backup file(s)…
      • d: diff file with backup
      • z: Compress/uncompress file(s)…
        • g: gzip/gunzip
        • b: bzip2/bunzip2
        • x: xz/unxz
        • l: lzip/lunzip
        • 4: lz4/unlz4
      • x: uncompress .tar.gz, .tar.bz2, .tar.xz, .tar.lz, .tar.lz4, .tar, .zip, .rar, .7z
      • u: uncompress .tar.gz, etc in other panel
      • c: compress directory to format…
        • g: .tar.gz
        • b: .tar.bz2
        • x: .tar.xz
        • l: .tar.lz
        • 4: .tar.lz4
        • t: .tar
        • z: .zip
        • r: .rar
        • 7: .7z
    • F9: general menu
      • /: find/grep file…
      • #: show directories size
      • s: sort files by…
      • t: tree
      • f: show filesystems info
      • o: open shell
      • c: edit configuration
      • k: edit key bindings file
      • e: edit theme file
      • h: delete history
    • h: help…
    • q, F10: exit and chdir to current path
    • Ctrl-q: quit and don't change to current path


  • *EntryLine* window and *PowerCLI*
    • enter: return path or execute command in PowerCLI
    • Ctrl-c, ESC: quit
    • Ctrl-x: toggle show/hide in PowerCLI
    • insert: toggle insert/overwrite
    • special:
      • up, down: history
      • tab: change to next entry or button, or complete in PowerCLI
      • Ctrl-t: complete…
    • movement
      • home, Ctrl-a: move to beginning of line
      • end, Ctrl-e: move to end of line
      • left, Ctrl-b: move cursor left
      • right, Ctrl-f: move cursor right
      • Ctrl-left, Ctrl-p: move cursor to previous word
      • Ctrl-right, Ctrl-n: move cursor to next word
    • deletion
      • backspace: delete previous character
      • del: delete character at cursor
      • Ctrl-w: delete whole line
      • Ctrl-h: delete from start to cursor position
      • Ctrl-k: delete from cursor position to end of line
      • Ctrl-q, Ctrl-backspace: delete until previous word
      • Ctrl-r, Ctrl-del: delete until next word
    • insertion
      • Ctrl-z: restore original content (undo)
      • Ctrl-v: insert filename at position
      • Ctrl-s: insert path at position
      • Ctrl-o: insert other pane tab path at position
      • Ctrl-d, Ctrl-: select bookmark at position…
      • Ctrl-y: select path from navigation history at position…
      • Ctrl-g: select historic path (not PowerCLI)…
      • Ctrl-g: select historic or stored (from config) command (PowerCLI)…
  • *SelectItem* window
    • [letter]: go to entry whose first char is this
    • up, k, K
    • down, j, J
    • page_up, backspace, Ctrl-b
    • page_down, space, Ctrl-f
    • home, Ctrl-a
    • end, Ctrl-e
    • Ctrl-l: go to entry in the middle of list
    • Ctrl-s: go to entry starting by…
    • enter: return entry
    • Ctrl-c, q, Q, ESC: quit
  • *Permissions* and *Owner/Group* windows
    • tab, cursor: move
    • in permissions: r, w, x, s, t to toggle read, write, exec, setuid or setgid, sticky bit
    • in user, group: space or enter to select
    • in recursive: space or enter to toggle
    • in buttons: space or enter to accept that action
    • everywhere: space or enter to accept, a to accept all, i to ignore and c, q, esc, Ctrl-c to cancel
  • *Tree* panel
    • down, j, K: down within current depth, without going out from directory
    • up, k, K: up within current depth, without going out from directory
    • page_up, backspace, Ctrl-b: same as up but page-size scroll
    • page_down, space, Ctrl-f: same as down but page-size scroll
    • home, Ctrl-a: first directory
    • end, Ctrl-e: last directory
    • left: go out from directory
    • right: enter in directory
    • enter: return changing to directory
    • Ctrl-c, q, Q, F10, ESC: quit
  • *View* window
    • up, k, K
    • down, j, J
    • page_up, backspace, Ctrl-b
    • page_down, space, Ctrl-f
    • home, Ctrl-a: move cursor to first file
    • end, Ctrl-e: move cursor to last file
    • Ctrl-c, q, Q, F3, F10, ESC: quit

Some features in detail

Running lfm

Type lfm --help for a complete list of options:

~$ lfm --help
Usage: lfm [-h] [-d] [-w] [--restore-config] [--restore-keys]
           [--restore-theme] [--delete-history]
           [path1] [path2]

lfm v3.1 - (C) 2001-17, by Iñigo Serna <inigoserna@gmail.com>

positional arguments:
  path1                 Path to show in left pane (default: ".")
  path2                 Path to show in right pane (default: ".")

optional arguments:
  -h, --help            Show this help message and exit
  -d, --debug           Enable debug level in log file
  -w, --use-wide-chars  Enable support for wide chars
  --restore-config      Restore default configuration
  --restore-keys        Restore default key bindings
  --restore-theme       Restore default theme
  --delete-history      Delete history

'Last File Manager' is a powerful file manager for UNIX console.
It has a curses interface and it's written in Python version 3.4+.
Released under GNU Public License, read COPYING file for more details.

As mentioned in the Installation section, quitting lfm with q or F10 keys will leave you in the directory of active tab, if you want to go back to the directory you started lfm from, quit the program using Ctrl-q.

When running lfm writes some events to the log file ~/.config/lfm/lfm.log. Passing -d or --debug to lfm increments the verbosity of the logs.

Start the program with lfm -w or lfm --use-wide-chars to enable the support for East Asian languages. Note you could enable this feature in the configuration permanently. This option is not enabled by default as it makes the program a bit slower. There is an entry in the FAQ with more information on this regard.

Files name encoding

Since v3.0, lfm uses UTF-8 encoding.

Since v2.2, lfm was rewritten to always use unicode strings internally, but employ terminal encoding (f.e. UTF-8) to interact with the user in input forms, to display contents, and to pass commands to run in shell.

When lfm detects a file with invalid encoding name it asks the user to convert it (can be automatic with the proper option in the configuration). If not converted, lfm will display the file but won't operate on it.

Virtual File Systems (VFS)

You can navigate inside some special files (known as vfs files in lfm) just entering into them (press enter or cursor_right when the cursor bar is over one of these files). By now, supported types are .tar.gz, .tar.bz2, .tar.xz, .zip, .rar, and .7z files.

lfm even supports navigating nested compressed files (vfs inside vfs)!

The virtual directory name (path_to_vfs_file#vfs/dir) is not propagated, so the temporary directory (/tmp/tmpc396zode.lfm/dir) could be displayed in the copy/move/… dialogs or when view/edit/… a file, but this is just an estetic issue.

When returning from one of such vfs files, a question dialog appears asking to allow you to regenerate the vfs file and update all changes (i.e., it is compressed again, so it could be slow in some machines), but lfm checks if it can do first, to avoid waste of time. This behaviour (rebuild or not rebuild, ask it or not) can be modified in the configuration file. By default the question is showed but it's set to not regenerate vfs.

Note that in the case of panelize vfs type (vfs with matched files after find/grep), rebuild will cause that all files modifications or deletions be translated to the original directory. So be careful!

lfm doesn't implement remote vfs such as ssh, ftp, smb, webdav… This is a design criterion, we don't want to add external dependencies beyond python standard library. If you need to access remote file systems you could mount them using something like fuse and treat them as local directories from inside lfm. Look at the FAQ section to learn how.

Find & grep

You can find and grep for files matching a given pattern (default / key).

Then you can select some actions to perform:

  • go: chdir to the directory containing the selected file
  • panelize: create a VFS with matched files
  • view: view selected file
  • edit: edit selected file
  • do: exec on selected file (output is not captured)
  • quit: quit dialog

Note that in the case of panelize vfs, rebuild will cause that all files modifications or deletions be translated to the original directory. So be careful!


Filters can be used in tabs to hide some files or directories from the view.

Use Ctrl-f to edit current filter. You could see some indication on the frame of pane at the top-right position: for example .f would mean dotfiles are shown (.) and there is an active filter (f).

The filters are a property of a tab, so they remain active even when chdir. If you what to disable, edit and delete. The default blank filter is the same as !*, i.e. don't hide anything, show all files and directories.

Filters can look complex at first sight, but just remember a filter defines the files to hide. They are implemented as globs. Some examples:

  • *.png,*.jpg: hide all PNG and JPEG files
  • *.jpg,!*shot*: hide all JPEG files except those with 'shot' in the name
  • *,!*py: hide all except python source files


The user can define up to 35 bookmarks, which are associated to characters 0-9, a-z. Upper and lower variant of a letter represent the same bookmark.

From the main interface use B key and then select a letter to set a bookmark for current directory. Later press b and this same character to go back to the stored path. Ctrl-d allows to select the bookmark from a list.

Note you can insert a bookmark path in EntryLine widgets or PowerCLI.

Move files and directories

You can choose between 2 different functions to move files and directories:

  • move_file: old implementation
  • move_file2: alternative version using shtutil.move instead of copy & delete. Faster but less control of errors. Default

Choose the one you prefer and associate it with the F6 (default key) in the key bindings file.

Some historical notes

[These comments are probably not necessary nowdays, but I keep them here anyway.]

Since version 0.90, lfm needs ncurses >= v5.x to handle terminal resizing.

Python v2.5+ and ncurses v5.4+ to use wide characters.

Note that python curses module should be linked against ncursesw library (instead of ncurses) to get wide characters support. This is the usual case in later versions of Linux distributions, but maybe not the case in older Linux or other UNIX platforms. Thus, expect problems when using multibyte file names (f.e. UTF-8 or latin-1 encoded) if your curses module isn't compiled against ncursesw. Anyway, I hope this issue will disappear with new releases of those platforms eventually.

Consult Files name encoding section below for more information about support of different encodings.


PowerCLI is a command line interface with advanced features. To show it press Ctrl-x, and same again to hide, ENTER to run. Line contents are restored next time PowerCLI is showed.

Some features:

lfm waits until the command is finished, showing output or error. You can stop the command if it seems to run forever.

To run a command in background just add a & at the end of the command. This is useful to open a graphical program and come back to lfm quickly. But note you won't get any feedback about the command, even if it has been able to run or not.

If the program you want to run needs the terminal (less, vim, emacs -nw…), add $ at the end of the command to let lfm know it must temporary free the terminal. Not passing it will fill the screen with garbage.

Variables substitution

There are a lot of variables you can use to simplify your command typing. Specially useful in loops to apply the same command to many files.

  • $f: file name including extension
  • $v: same than $f
  • $E: file name without extension
  • $e: extension
  • $p: active directory
  • $o: other pane directory
  • $b#: path in bookmark #
  • $s: all selected files, space-separated and enclosed between "
  • $a: all files, space-separated and enclosed between "
  • $i: loop index, starting at 1
  • $tm: file modification date and time
  • $ta: file access date and time
  • $tc: file creation date and time
  • $tn: now (date and time)
  • $dm: file modification date
  • $da: file access date
  • $dc: file creation date
  • $dn: now (only date)

Python execution

You can run a subset of python language code in a sandbox, but note this sandbox doesn't allow to import modules or access anything outside for security reasons. But DON'T TRUST IT'S SECURE.

The sandbox is a very limited environment but powerful enough to satisfy common needs, even you can use the variables inside the code.

Code must be enclosed between { }. You can even use different code chunks in the same command. Consult the examples.


  • copy current file (or all selected files in a loop) to the other pane path:

    cp $f $o
  • move selected files to path stored in bookmark #3 (no loop):

    mv $s "$b3"

    We have enclosed $b3 between " here in case the path could contain spaces.

  • show all python files in a directory:

    find /to/path -name "*.py"
  • open current file with eog in background and continue inmediately in lfm:

    eog [Ctrl-v] &
  • find python files containing some special words in the background and redirect output to a file:

    find . -name "*py" -print0 | xargs --null grep -EHcni "TODO|WARNING|FIXME|BUG" > output.txt &

    Note that if you run a command in the background you won't get any feedback by default, that's why we redirect the output to a file.

  • edit current file with vim in the console:

    vim %F $

    Note you must end the line with a % if the command will use the terminal.

  • convert file (or all selected) to lowercase and change .bak extension to .orig. F.e., FiLeFOO.bak => filefoo.orig:

    mv $f {$f.lower().replace('.bak', '.orig')}
  • loop over selected files, copy to the other pane path and rename. F.e., if /current/path/img1234.jpeg is the 13th file in the selection and was created on 2010/07/22 at 19:43:22 => /other/path/13. 20100722194322 - IMG1234.jpg:

    cp $f "$o/{'%2.2d. %s - %s' % ($i, $tm.strftime('%Y%m%d%H%S'), $E.upper())}.jpg"

    Yes, a stupid convoluted example, but it clearly shows how powerful PowerCLI is. Also observe that as the target file name contain spaces, the whole destination must be surrounded with ".

Random notes

  • Paths or filenames with spaces or special characters must be enclosed between ". Study last example above
  • Loops are only executed with selected files AND at least one of next variables present within the command: $f, $v, $F, $E, $i, $tm, $ta, $tc. Remember $a or $s never loop
  • Note the differences of running commands with trailing & vs. $ vs. nothing
  • If cursor is at the beginning of line, completion will try system programs. If it is in any other position, it will try files or directories first and if nothing is found then programs
  • Although python code is executed inside a sandbox, it's not completely secure. Anyway, it's the same kind of security issues your system is exposed to when shell access is allowed


The configuration of lfm is stored across some files in the ~/.config/lfm directory. This directory is created the first time lfm runs, and filled with some files with default settings.

To restore default configuration exit from all instances of lfm and delete ~/.config/lfm directory. You could also the command line options to restore default configuration, key bindings, or theme.

In next subsections we will discuss the default configuration and the meaning of the different options.


Program preferences are saved in the ~/.config/lfm/lfm.ini file.

To configure lfm go to General Menu [F9] -> Edit Configuration [c] menu option, or edit this file manually when no instance of the program is running.

It contains these parts:


Main settings:

# automatic_file_encoding_conversion: never = -1, ask = 0, always = 1
# sort_type: SortType.none, SortType.byName, SortType.byExt, SortType.byPath, SortType.bySize, SortType.byMTime
automatic_file_encoding_conversion: 0
detach_terminal_at_exec: 1
find_ignorecase: 1
grep_ignorecase: 1
grep_regex: 1
rebuild_vfs: 0
save_configuration_at_exit: 1
save_history_at_exit: 1
show_dotfiles: 1
show_output_after_exec: 1
sort_mix_cases: 1
sort_mix_dirs: 0
sort_reverse: 0
sort_type: SortType.byName
use_wide_chars: 0
  • automatic_file_encoding_conversion: Automatically convert filenames when wrong encoding found? Default 0 (no, ask)
  • detach_terminal_at_exec: Detach terminal at execute? Default 1 (yes)
  • find_ignorecase: Ignore case in find? Default 0 (no)
  • grep_ignorecase: Ignore case in grep? Default 1 (yes)
  • grep_regex: Use regex as grep pattern? Default 1 (yes)
  • rebuild_vfs: Rebuild vfs? Useful if automatic in confirmations->ask_rebuild_vfs. Default 0 (no)
  • save_configuration_at_exit: Save configuration at exit? Default 1 (yes)
  • save_history_at_exit: Save history at exit for future sessions? Default 1 (yes)
  • show_dotfiles: Show .files? Default 1 (yes)
  • show_output_after_exec: Show output after exec? Default 1 (yes)
  • sort_mix_cases: Mix upper and lower case files in sort? Default 1 (yes)
  • sort_mix_dirs: Mix files and directories in sort? Default 0 (no)
  • sort_reverse: Reverse sort? Default 0 (no)
  • sort_type: Sort type. Default SortType.byName (sort by name)
  • use_wide_chars: Use wide chars? Default 0 (no)


These settings indicate whether the user will be prompted in these actions:

ask_rebuild_vfs: 1
delete: 1
overwrite: 1
quit: 1
  • ask_rebuild_vfs: when abandoning compressed files, prompt if we should rebuild the file in case we've modified contents. Note that in find/grep panelize (vfs with matched files) if rebuild, all files modifications or deletions are translated to original directory. So be careful!


Settings which require a string value:

# diff_type: context, unified, ndiff
backup_extension: .bak
diff_type: unified
  • backup_extension: Backup file extension? Default .bak
  • diff_type: Diff output format? Default unified


Default programs lfm uses to open common file types:

audio: vlc
ebook: FBReader
editor: vi
graphics: eog
pager: less
pdf: evince
shell: bash
video: vlc
web: firefox

The applications listed here must be executable programs in your $PATH, shell alias will not work.


File extensions associated with default programs. Used to color files too. See previous subsection:

archive: 7z, arc, arj, ark, bz2, cab, deb, gz, lha, lzh, rar, rpm, tar, tbz2, tgz, txz, xz, z, zip, zoo
audio: au, flac, mid, midi, mp2, mp3, mpg, ogg, wma, xm
data: cdx, dat, db, dbf, dbi, dbx, dta, fox, mdb, mdn, mdx, msql, mssql, nc, pgsql, sql, sqlite, ssql
devel: ada, asm, awk, bash, c, caml, cc, cgi, cpp, css, diff, el, f, f90, glade, h, hh, hpp, hs, inc, jasm, jav, java, js, lua, m, m4, mak, ml, mli, mll, mlp, mly, pas, pas, patch, php, phps, pl, pm, pov, prg, py, pyw, rb, sh, sl, st, tcl, tk, ui, vala
document: 1, abw, bib, djvu, doc, docx, dtd, dvi, gnumeric, ics, info, letter, lsm, mail, man, msg, odc, odp, odt, po, pps, ppt, pptx, rtf, sdc, sdp, sdw, sgml, sxc, sxp, sxw, tex, text, txt, vcard, vcs, xls, xlsx, xml, xsd, xslt
ebook: azw, azw3, chm, epub, fb2, imp, lit, mobi, prc
graphics: ai, bmp, cdr, dia, dwb, dwg, dxf, eps, gif, ico, jpeg, jpg, omf, pcx, pic, png, rle, svg, tif, tiff, wmf, xbm, xcf, xpm
pdf: pdf, ps
temp: $$$, bak, tmp, ~
video: acc, asf, avi, flv, med, mkv, mol, mov, mp4, mpeg, mpg, mpl, ogv, ogv, swf, wmv
web: htm, html, shtml


User-defined 35 bookmarks (0-9, a-z). No differences between upper and lower character, as they represent the same bookmark. / initially:

0: /
1: /
. . .
8: /
9: /
a: /
b: /
. . .
y: /
z: /

[PowerCLI Favs]

User-defined 10 favourite PowerCLI stored commands:

0: mv "$f" "{$f.replace('', '')}"
1: less "$f" %
2: find "$d" -name "*" -print0 | xargs --null grep -EHcni "TODO|WARNING|FIXME|BUG"
3: find "$d" -name "*" -print0 | xargs --null grep -EHcni "TODO|WARNING|FIXME|BUG" >output.txt &
4: cp $s "$o"

Key bindings

The currently used key bindings for the main user interface are stored in the ~/.config/lfm/lfm.keys file. To customize select General Menu [F9] -> Edit keys [k] from the program or if you edit the file directly be sure no instance of lfm is running.

Currently, it is not possible to modify the key bindings for the dialogs.

The format is:

<action>: key_combination_1 key_combination_2 …

Something like C-up means Control & cursor up keys pressed simultaneously and A-s means Alt & s keys pressed simultaneously. If the definition contains 2 or more bindings, all of them could be used, as is the case with C-u and , for panes_swap action below.

Consult Keys shortcuts section for more information.

Default key bindings:

########## lfm - Last File Manager - Keys ##########

# cursor movement
cursor_up:                     up k
cursor_down:                   down j
cursor_pageup:                 pageup backspace C-p
cursor_pagedown:               pagedown spc C-n
cursor_up10:                   C-up
cursor_down10:                 C-down
cursor_home:                   home C-a
cursor_end:                    end C-e
cursor_goto_file:              C-s
cursor_goto_file_1char:        A-s

# change dir
dir_up:                        left
dir_enter:                     right enter
goto:                          g
bookmark_goto:                 b
bookmark_set:                  B
bookmark_select_fromlist:      C-d
history_select_fromlist:       C-y

# pane & tabs
pane_change_focus:             tab
pane_other_tab_equal:          =
panes_swap:                    C-u ,
panes_cycle_view:              .
refresh:                       C-r
redraw_screen:                 A-r
dotfiles_toggle:               C-h
filters_edit:                  C-f
sort_files:                    s
show_dirs_size:                #
tab_new:                       :
tab_close:                     !
tab_left:                      <
tab_right:                     >

# selection
select:                        ins
select_glob:                   +
deselect_glob:                 -
select_invert:                 *

# files
rename_file:                   F2
view_file:                     F3
edit_file:                     F4
copy_file:                     F5
move_file2:                    F6
make_dir:                      F7
delete_file:                   F8
exec_on_file:                  @
touch_file:                    t
link_create:                   l
link_edit:                     L
show_file_info:                i

# general
find_grep:                     /
show_tree:                     C-t
main_menu:                     F9
file_menu:                     F12
help_menu:                     h
open_shell:                    C-o
toggle_powercli:               C-x
quit_chdir:                    q F10
quit_nochdir:                  C-q

Color themes

The current theme is stored in the ~/.config/lfm/lfm.theme file, where you can adapt the user interface colors to your likings. To customize select General Menu [F9] -> Edit theme [e] from the program or if you edit the file directly be sure no instance of lfm is running.

To edit this file be sure no instance of lfm is running.

Each entry represents a different entity. The format is:

<item>: foreground_color background_color

or to make an entity adopt the same colors as other previous one:

<item>: =<previous_item>

Valid colors are: white, black, red, green, yellow, blue, magenta, cyan. Can use * before a foreground color to intensify.

Default theme is defined as:

########## lfm - Last File Manager - Theme ##########

# Format is:   item:  foreground  background
#        or:   item:  =previous_item
# Valid colors: white, black, red, green, yellow, blue, magenta, cyan
# Can use * to intensify a foreground color

header:                 yellow   blue
tab_active:             yellow   black
tab_inactive:           =header
pane_active:            green    black
pane_inactive:          white    black
pane_header_path:       red*     black
pane_header_titles:     white*   black
statusbar:              =header
powercli_prompt:        blue*    black
powercli_text:          white    black

selected_files:         yellow*  black
cursor:                 blue     cyan
cursor_selected:        yellow*  cyan

files_dir:              green    black
files_exe:              red      black
files_reg:              white    black
files_archive:          yellow   black
files_audio:            blue     black
files_data:             magenta* black
files_devel:            cyan     black
files_document:         blue     black
files_ebook:            =files_document
files_graphics:         magenta  black
files_pdf:              =files_document
files_temp:             white    black
files_web:              =files_document
files_video:            =files_audio

dialog:                 yellow   blue
dialog_title:           yellow*  blue
button_active:          yellow*  red
button_inactive:        =dialog_title
dialog_error:           black    red
dialog_error_title:     white    red
dialog_error_text:      white*   red
dialog_perms:           green*   black
selectitem:             blue     cyan
selectitem_title:       red      cyan
selectitem_cursor:      yellow   blue
entryline:              yellow*  cyan
progressbar_fg:         black    white
progressbar_bg:         white    cyan
view_white_on_black:    white    black
view_red_on_black:      red      black
view_blue_on_black:     blue     black
view_green_on_black:    green    black


How and why lfm born?

Everything is explained in next sections. list.com and midnight commander were the muses who guided.

Isn't python slow? why develop lfm on python?

No. It's fast enough. And programming in python is funny.

Does it work with Python v2.x?

Not anymore. lfm v3.x is written for Python 3.4+. If you only have Python 2.x please use old lfm v2.3.

lfm does not change to current directory after quiting

This can't be made inside the program, but you could get it using the shell tip mentioned Installation section.

lfm does not start, shows the message "Terminal to narrow to show contents" lfm shows the message "Terminal to narrow to show contents" and quits when resizing

lfm needs a terminal with 66 columns as mininum. If the terminal is narrower or you resize it to fewer columns program will stop inmediately.

Why doesn't lfm implement remote vfs such as ssh, ftp, smb, webdav, ...?

One of the design goals for lfm is simplicity, we don't want to add external dependencies beyond python standard library. Nevertheless you can use something like fuse to mount those remote volumes anyway.

To use fuse with ssh you need fuse and sshfs packages installed on your system:

$ mkdir /mount/point/for_ssh_server
$ sshfs user@ip_or_hostname:/path /mount/point/for_ssh_server

For ftp you need fuse and curlftpfs:

$ mkdir /mount/point/for_ftp_server
$ curlftpfs ftp://user:password@ip_or_hostname /mount/point/for_ftp_server

For webdav you need fuse and wdfs or davfs2 (non fuse based):

$ mkdir /mount/point/for_webdav_server
$ wdfs https://user:password@server.org/webdav_dir /mount/point/for_webdav_server

For smb take a look at fuse-smb.

And to umount:

$ fusermount -u /mount/point
$ rm -rf /mount/point

Request: add advanced file rename tool

Use PowerCLI, it's much... uhmmm... powerful!

I don't like the colors of the interface. Can I change the theme?

Yes!!! lfm v3.x supports color personalization, but only one default theme is provided. Customize colors in the file ~/.config/lfm/lfm.theme. More information in the section Color themes. And please share your creations.

Key bindings customization?

Yes!!! lfm v3.x supports key bindings personalization. Customize them in the file ~/.config/lfm/lfm.keys. More information in the section Key bindings.

Some Chinese, Japanese or Korean files make lfm look ugly or even crash

Start the program as lfm -w or enable it by default setting an option in the configuration file: use_wide_chars: 1 in section [Options] (see [Options] above).

This option is not enabled by default as it makes the program slower.

The characters of these languages can span over 1 or 2 cells, so it's not possible for lfm to guess the real width they need, it must be calculated for every string to show.

I can't find pyview anymore

Starting with version 3.0, pyview has been removed from lfm package, and now less is used as the default file viewer/pager.

Nowdays I use emacs for almost everything, even as my default file viewer. You can emulate old pyview features easily just adding next configuration to your .emacs file:

(defun eless (&rest args_str)
  (let ((args (pop args_str)))
    (if (string-match "\\+\\([0-9]+\\)\s+\\(.+\\)" args)
        (let* ((line (string-to-number (match-string 1 args)))
               (file (match-string 2 args)))
          (view-file file)
          (goto-line line))
      (view-file args))))

(add-hook 'view-mode-hook
          '(lambda ()
             (define-key view-mode-map "q"   'kill-emacs)
             (define-key view-mode-map '[f3] 'kill-emacs)))
(add-hook 'hexl-mode-hook
          '(lambda ()
             (define-key hexl-mode-map '[f4] 'hexl-mode-exit)))

(global-set-key '[f2]       'toggle-truncate-lines)
(global-set-key '[f3]       'view-mode)
(global-set-key '[f4]       'hexl-mode)
(global-set-key "\C-cn"     'linum-mode)

create a new executable program ve with these contents and move it to any directory in your $PATH:

emacs -nw --eval "(eless \"$*\")"

and finally set ve as your viewer in lfm configuration: pager entry under [Options] section in ~/.config/lfm/lfm.ini file.

Of course you can substitute that emacs call with emacsclient and adapt the code if you run emacs as daemon.

If you prefer vim create the ve file with something like:

vim -u /usr/share/vim/vimXX/macros/less.vim "$*"

where XX is the vim version you have, for example 74 for vim 7.4.

In any case note that ve must be an executable program in your $PATH, a shell alias will not work.

Mouse support? UI to configure settings?

I'm afraid we speak different languages.

When will be support for internationalization?

If we are talking about translating lfm, the answer is mostly never. Ncurses programming makes very difficult to control the length of every text for every possible language translation.

If you mean support for file names in foreign languages and encodings then it's almost here already.

[Any other question / feature request]

Consult if it's mentioned in the TODO file and/or send me an email.


Many many years ago I began to write a program like this in C, but after some weeks of coding I never finished it… I'm too lazy, yes. Then I saw the light and I started writing lfm to learn Python.

Code evolved and application got more and more features, used by many people around the world on different UNIX systems.

But after the release of version 0.91 (June 2004) they were not more releases. Not that I had stopped working on lfm, new code was written, tested, rewritten again… silently… different reasons made me to postpone public releases… refactoring, a new essential feature, source cleaning, a wedding, a child, ahem… code refactoring…

Anyway, from now on I'll do my best to release often.


Thanks are obviously due to the whole python community, specially to GvR (of course! ;-) and all the people who answered my questions in c.l.p.

It's a great pleasure to code in a language like this.

Alexei Gilchrist, for his cfm program from which I took some ideas.

Midnight Commander developers, whose program was the mirror.

Vernon D. Buerg's list.com, the best program ever coded (well, just after emacs ;-). Added 2012/06/19: I've just read Buerg died on Dec. 30, 2009. RIP.

And also to all the people who have contributed with ideas, reporting bugs and code over these years: Antoni Aloy, Sebastien Bacher, Grigory Bakunov, Greg Bell, Jean-François Bercher, Luigi M. Bianchi, Hunter Blanks, Josef Boehm, Witold Bołt, Fabian Braennstroem, Jason Buberel, Ondrej Certik, Kevin Coyner, Tim Daneliuk, Mike Dean, Arnå DG, Maximilian Dietrich, Christian Eichert, Steve Emms, Murat Erten, Daniel Echeverry, Luca Falavigna, Stephen R. Figgins, f1ufx, Roy Fullmer, Francisco Gama, Vlad Glagolev, Ana Beatriz Guerrero Lopez, Kelly Hopkins, Laurent Humblet, Ibu, Tjabo Kloppenburg, Zoran Kolic, Shantanu Kulkarni, Kurka, Max Kutny, Karol M. Langner, Yu-Jie Lin, Martin Lüethi, Thomas Marsaleix, Mateusz Matejuk, Maurício, James Mills, Oliver Mueller, Bartosz Oler, Piotr Ozarowski, Mikhail A. Pokidko, Jerome Prudent, Mikhail Ramendik, Rod, Daniel T. Schmitt, Chengqi Song, Robin Siebler, Andrey Skvortsov, Espartaco Smith, Jörg Sonnenberger, Jonathan Steel, Martin Steigerwald, Wayne Tan, Joshua Tasker, Tim Terlegård, Jean Terrier, Edd Thompson, Sergey Tkachenko, E.R. Uber, Viktor Vad, Walter van den Broek, Jesper Vestergaard, Xin Wang, Alejandro Weil, Yellowprotoss, Hai Zaar and many others…

You have made posible to run lfm in all those platforms!