One After the Other

One After the Other

Article from Issue 216/2018

If you expect more from a file manager than the ability to move files from A to B, Polo might be for you.

When it comes to file managers, everyone has their own opinion about what is best. Some want a file manager with tabs; others require a divided view with two or more windows, like the Norton Commander. For some, basic functions like copy, move, and delete are sufficient, but others want a universal tool with viewers for different formats and an integrated editor.

If you want to adapt a file manager to match your working methods and expect a solution that makes many everyday tasks easier, then Polo File Manager [1] might be right for you.

Polo File Manager, which is a little over one year old, brings a fresh perspective to the file manager landscape: Tabs, multiple views, an integrated terminal, and simple editing functions for images or PDF documents round out the package. Even in terms of financing, the project breaks new ground.


Because of its youth, Polo is not yet available in the major distributions' package sources. You need to install the software manually. For Ubuntu and Ubuntu-based distributions (e.g., Linux Mint or elementary OS), the developers offer a package source (Listing 1).

Listing 1

Ubuntu Package Source


Under Arch, you build the application using PKGBUILD from the Arch User Repository (AUR) – either polo or polo-bin. The first entry builds the application from the source code [2]; the second uses the precompiled DEB files as a basis. For users of other distributions, the developer provides an installation script [3].

When first launched, Polo opens a wizard that configures the file manager's layout with just one click. You can choose from one of three layout options: Classic Icons, which mimics Gnome Files (formerly Nautilus); Commander Icons, which turns Polo into a Norton Commander clone; or Extreme, which turns Polo into a four panel monster (Figure 1). Try out the different options; you can always restart the wizard with Tools | Style Wizard if necessary.

Figure 1: The Style Wizard dialog lets you select file manager layouts with a mouse click. The Extreme option with four panels is shown here.


Before getting started with the file manager, you should briefly devote some time to the Settings dialog, which is accessed by the Settings icon at top right. If you prefer to work with a current Gnome desktop (including the Ubuntu 17.04 interface, minus Unity), activate the header bar by clicking UI and checking the Enable (R) box under Headerbar (see Figure 2).

Figure 2: Use the Settings dialog to configure Polo down to the smallest detail. The Headerbar options move the menus and buttons, typical for modern Gnome applications, into the window bar.

After a reboot, Polo uses the window bar to display the menus and the pathbar. For devices with small displays, this modification makes room for the application's content.

Under the General tab, enable Bourne again shell (bash) in the Terminal section. By default, Polo tries to load the Fish shell, but very few users actually have it installed on their computers.

Other configuration settings, such as icon size depending on the view, the Gtk theme, and the Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) settings, allow you to control many details.

Polo File Manager

The Polo application window is usually divided into three areas. The sidebar on the left shows the most important directories, bookmarks, and mounted drives. The middle section contains the file manager, which can be divided into two or four panels. If necessary, you can show or hide a vertical buttonbar between panels if you are in the dual-pane Commander view. The sidebar on the right displays information about the currently selected file or directory along with a preview (Figure 3).

Figure 3: Polo in practice: Two panels allow convenient handling in the filesystem. The terminal automatically follows the file manager to the active directory. The right sidebar provides information about the currently selected item.

In the window bar (after activating the Headerbar option in Settings), you will find the usual system navigation buttons and the current path's buttons. To the right of these buttons, click on the View button to change the view (List, Icons, Tiles, or Media) or the pane division in the center section, or adjust the default setting for sorting and displaying hidden files (Figure 4). The Gear button next to the View button opens the Settings dialog, and the hamburger button shows the menu.

Figure 4: You can switch between the different views with a mouse click. In the same menu, activate or deactivate additional fields or specify the sorting mode.

The status bar shows and hides the sidebars and the center buttonbar, which accesses file operations between the panels. The status bar also informs you about the number of selected files and directories in the current folder, as well as the size, permissions, and type of partition. The three buttons on the status bar's far right let you activate a filter, show or hide the terminal, and show or hide the right sidebar.

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