A look at Linux file manager Konqueror

Take control of your file systems with Konqueror

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Having briefly discussed eight Linux file managers in my previous article, this article concentrates on my favorite GUI-based file manager.

Konqueror is an amazingly versatile and powerful file management program that is also a very good web browser and FTP client. It is provided with Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Fedora, CentOS, and many other Linux distributions as a part of the KDE Desktop Environment. I find Konqueror an indispensable tool because it can do so many things very well.

Konqueror allows you to browse through your files and directories to locate, copy, move, and delete files, as well as to open them using a pre-selected application, or an alternate application.

Konqueror is highly configurable. There are multiple preconfigured profiles that allow you to select the mode of operation that provides a starting place for using Konqueror in the manner that suits you best. You can also create your own profiles.

These include the following common profiles for Konqueror.

  • File management
  • Midnight Commander
  • A simple browser
  • A browser with tabs

Each of these profiles configures Konqueror in a specific way for a specific task. You can then use these as starting points configure Konqueror to meet your specific needs and save a profile so that you can reconfigure Konqueror at any time to meet those needs. Even when configured for one task, such as file management, Konqueror can be used for other tasks such as web browsing.

For those of you who do not know what Midnight Commander is, it is a file management program. It is a text based program patterned after an old and no longer available commercial file commander program.

The default Konqueror window when opened the first time in "File management" mode.

Figure 1: The default Konqueror window when opened the first time in “file management” mode.

The Konqueror View Window provides for multiple tabs and one or two or more panes in each tab in which to view files; it allows drag and drop copying or moving of files from one directory to another and other easy manipulation of files and launching of programs to edit or view the files. The Midnight Commander mode of Konqueror is similar on that text based program but it is much more flexible for those who prefer a GUI based environment. I find it extremely useful as well.

Getting started

If Konqueror is not already installed on your Linux host, you can, as root, use your package manager to install it. For my preferred distributions of Fedora and CentOS, the following command does the job.

yum -y install konqueror

You can launch Konqueror as a web browser directly from the KDE > Favorites menu. Konqueror can be also be launched from a terminal window with a specific profile using the following command.

 konqueror --profile midnightcommander &

The profiles are stored in the ~/.kde/share/apps/konqueror/profiles directory but they do not exist immediately after installing and must be created. If a profile does not exist, launching Konqueror from the command line in this manner opens a window with no content.

Konqueror when launched for the first time in Midnight Commander mode.

Figure 2: Konqueror when launched for the first time in Midnight Commander mode.

Using KDE, the easiest way to launch Konqueror in any mode other than browser mode and to create the corresponding profiles, is with Konqueror Profiles widget. Install this KDE widget on your desktop or KDE Panel. When you click on it, the widget opens with a list of available profiles including any you have created yourself.

Notice in the figures above, that different profiles can look significantly different. For example, in simple file management mode, there is a sidebar, while Midnight Commander mode does not have a sidebar, but it does have a terminal window from which commands can be entered directly.

Using Konqueror profiles

I don’t really like any of the existing profiles as they stand, so I have created one of my own that I call “Davids File Management” which includes all of my favorite features. The illustration below shows how Konqueror looks while using my own personal profile. I have opened two web sites and two directories in this tab of the View window.

Konqueror when used with my own personal profile.

Figure 3: Konqueror when used with my own personal profile. Click on the image for a larger, much more readable version.

Creating a new profile or changing an existing one is quite easy. Once you have configured Konqueror the way you want it, choose Menu bar ==> Settings ==> Save View Profile as and then type in a new profile name or select an existing one. I never change the default ones in case I want to revert all the way back to them and start over.

You can also use the same menu to delete or rename existing profiles.

The Konqueror interface

The Navigation Window is on the left and shows a tree view of the user’s home folder at the top.It also shows a tree view of the root directory and, on the bottom, bookmarks for the web.

There are several things to notice about the instance of Konqueror shown in the figure above. At the top are the Menu Bar and the Main Toolbar. Like all of the toolbars, the Main Toolbar can be extensively reconfigured, and is when changing from one usage profile to another. You can also make your own changes to the Main Toolbar.

The Location Toolbar is just below the Menu Bar on the right side of the Konqueror window. It provides the capability to type in a URL or a path so you can go directly to a web page or a directory location. It also has a space to type terms for a Google search.

The Sidebar consists of the tabs down the left side of the Navigation Window. The window on the right, that contains the content, is officially called simply the Window. I shall call it the View Window for clarity. In the illustration above, the View Window contains four tabs along the top and the currently visible tab contains four panes, each of which contains its own content. Two of the panes contain web pages and two show the contents of a directory.

Files can be copied or moved from one directory to another using drag and drop — assuming you have permissions to both directories.


The primary configuration interface for Konqueror is Settings > Configure Konqueror. There are a large number of options available, so you should be able to configure Konqueror to work in the way most comfortable and useful for you.

The tabs situated vertically along the left side of the Konqueror window, and the left side frame of the Konqueror window is collectively called the Navigation Window. In Figure 16, the Navigation Window shows the Home folder and the Desktop folder.

There is also an Extra Toolbar which is not used in this particular default file management profile. It provides more space for some of the tools you can also place on the Main Toolbar, as well as having some unique tools of its own.

Menu bar

The Menu bar is pretty standard and provides access to nearly all of the features of Konqueror. The main menu item I use the most is the Settings menu. From there I can specify which Toolbars I want to display, whether the Menu bar itself is displayed, and whether to display the terminal emulator and the sidebar.


Konqueror has a Main Toolbar just underneath the Menu bar that provides access to several very useful features. The Konqueror Main Toolbar allows you to modify how you look at the contents of a directory and how much information is displayed about each file.

There are actually multiple Toolbars that make up the Konqueror toolbar. Each Toolbar can be configured to display many different buttons. Different Toolbars are displayed when Konqueror is in different modes, such as a web browser or file manager, that are consistent with that particular mode.

The Settings > Toolbars shown menu allows you to specify which toolbars are displayed and the Settings ==> Configure Toolbars menu allows you to specify which icons are displayed on each of the toolbars.


The Konqueror Sidebar provides several tabs that can be used for some high level navigation. You can click on the appropriate tab to go directly to your home directory or to the root file system. You can also click on the bookmarks tab to get a list of web bookmarks so you can easily browse the web. It also allows you to navigate directly to your home directory and to a number of other useful places. It includes a tab for web URLs so you can browse the web from here.

Simply click on any of the tabs to access the navigation window associated with that tab. From the top, the tabs in the Konqueror Sidebar are:

  • Bookmarks – These are just like the World Wide Web book marks in other browsers such as Firefox.
  • History – This is your web browsing history.
  • Places – This folder has a gold star on it and it displays a list of directories – which you can add to by drag and drop. It displays all of the various storage media and locations, file systems and pluggable devices, both on your computer and on remote computers. It only allows you access to the ones to which you have access rights. If you have permissions for a filesystem, you can just click on it in the Places pane and the contents will be displayed in the active content pane.
  • Home – Access to your home directory.
  • Root folder – This red folder is the top level folder of the entire filesystem. From here you can navigate the entire filesystem of your computer; at least the areas to which you have access.
  • Services – The Services tab is like a combination of the KDE Start Menu and the KDE Control Center. It allows you to browse through application programs and KDE settings in one place and launch them.
  • Network – Contains a list of WWW and FTP locations. By default this is a short list of KDE locations from which KDE applications, documentation, backgrounds and other files can be downloaded.

You can also configure the sidebar to display only one navigation window or as many as you choose to open at one time; of course you will need enough screen real estate as well.

Web browsing

Konqueror is a very nice web browser that can sometimes render web pages more accurately than more common browsers such as Firefox. On the other hand, there are some web sites that it does not work well with but those are few. Konqueror also seems to be less bloated than Firefox for web browsing while still retaining the ability to use Firefox plugins.

Note that it is not necessary to use the web browser profile to view web pages. Just open a bookmarked link, or type the URL of a web site into the Location toolbar and press the Enter key.


There is far more to Konqueror than can be discussed here. However you can use Konqueror’s own help to learn more, and you can visit the KDE web site for additional information.

Konqueror has a very complete set of documentation. Just press the F1 key or the Help menu on the Menu bar which launches the KDE handbook opened to the Konqueror section.

For the most part I find Konqueror to be fairly easy to understand and use, and that could be just because I have been using it for a long time. However, there are times when I need to use the documentation and I have been very happy about its completeness and ease of use.


Of all the file managers I use, Konqueror is the one to which I keep returning. It has the widest range of features and the most flexible interface of all the ones I have tried. It is well documented and—mostly—intuitive to use.

I urge you to try it if you have not already. It may not be right for you but, as I have found, with some configuration it could work better than anything else available.


About the author

David Both - David Both is a Linux and Open Source advocate who resides in Raleigh, North Carolina. He has been in the IT industry for over forty years and taught OS/2 for IBM where he worked for over 20 years. While at IBM, he wrote the first training course for the original IBM PC in 1981. He has taught RHCE classes for Red Hat and has worked at MCI Worldcom, Cisco, and the State of North Carolina. He has been working with Linux and Open Source Software for almost 20 years. David has written articles for