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I'm currently using Debian 6 with Xfce desktop, and I can't find any setting to make Thunar sort files properly; i.e., by ASCII order. I haven't been able to turn up anything via search engines either. Is there a setting in some config file somewhere that will do this?

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  • Do you really mean ASCII order?.. That would put A-Z before a-z with [ \ ^ ] _ ` between them... Or do you mean that the Latin alphabetic characters sort together and the symbols sort higher or lower than the alphabetic characters (instead of =A mixing in with all the A entries?... btw. I don't know how to do it for Xfce, and I gave up looking for a solution to this Latin Alphabet collation order in nautilus... I found that 'PCMan File Manager' sorts all the symbols to the top (the rest got to the bottom) and is case insensitive. but I just got used to nautilus :)
    – Peter.O
    Apr 4, 2011 at 12:52
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    @fred.bear: I definitely want the symbols higher than alphabetic characters, and I'd prefer A-Z to be distinct from a-z, and digits before letters, and digits in order. Right now Thunar is doing insane stuff like 5.txt coming before 030A.txt and it makes it hard to know where in a directory a given file will be.
    – Wolf
    Apr 4, 2011 at 13:06
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    Yes, it's a real pain (similar and worse with nautilus; at least Thunar seems to treat symbols "normally").. The idea behind the number thing, is to be "user friendly" and sort numbers according to their numeric value, rather than by the "byte" value... It has some office/home freindly(?!#@) algorithm which looks a leading numerics of text-segments (not just the fist segment)... I'll be watching to see how this pans out ... good luck :)
    – Peter.O
    Apr 4, 2011 at 13:26

3 Answers 3

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The normal thing to try is setting LC_COLLATE=C in your environment, but according to Debian bug 436524, Thunar does not respect that setting.

In that bug, the suggestion is to set MiscCaseSensitive to True in ~/.config/Thunar/thunarrc.

I don't know if that sorts symbols first or not, but it might help.

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    As of v.1.6.10 (early year 2017) neither of this works (or not for me, on OpenSuse 42.2): It is not even Case Sensitive! Feb 27, 2017 at 1:55
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    As of 1.8.15 thunar respects LC_COLLATE=C. However, you will need to run thunar --quit to kill the existing thunar process, and start a new one with the environment variable set (thunar --daemon & for daemon, thunar for one-offs)
    – rjh
    Aug 29, 2020 at 19:16
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As of Thunar version 1.6.10 (Xfce 4.12), this is still broken

There is a good alternative to Thunar, however. LXDE's default file manager is PCManFM, and it's a perfect stand-in for Thunar. Not only does it have a toggleable option for case-sensitive sorting, it also has tabs, side-by-side windowing, a tree view as well as the more-common "Places" view, and a host of other options that Thunar doesn't have. This isn't a band-aid solution, it's a perfectly suitable replacement. From the aforementioned article, here is a list of features:

  • Full gvfs support with seamless access to remote filesystems (Able to handle sftp://, webdav://, smb://, ...etc when related backends of gvfs are installed.)
  • Thumbnails for pictures (default only for local pictures) with optional EXIF support
  • Desktop management - shows wallpaper and desktop icons, highly customisable, with possibility to have different wallpapers on each desktop and on each monitor
  • Bookmarks - saved places. You can see them in the left panel of PCManFM. Visible from other Gtk+ applications.
  • Multilingual (translated in several languages)
  • Can be started in one second on normal machine
  • Tabbed windows (similar to Firefox tabs)
  • Volume management (mount/unmount/eject, requires gvfs) with optional automounting
  • Drag & Drop support
  • Files can be dragged among tabs
  • File association support (e.g. default application to open)
  • Provides icon view, compact view, detailed list view and thumbnail view.
  • Standard compliant (follows the FreeDesktop.org guidelines)
  • Clean and user-friendly interface (GTK+ 2)
  • Trash can support
  • Applications menu virtual folder support
  • Applications system menu full editing is available
  • File system advanced search
  • Optional two-panel view mode
  • Full accessibility support for persons with disabilities
  • A possibility to have different view options for some folders
  • Customizable main window layout
  • Third-party plugins support
  • Extended terminal emulators support
  • File templates support (both GNOME and KDE styles are supported) to simple creation of new files
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I click on the column header, "Name", and it sorts alphanumerically. You could go into Preferences and unselect "Sort folders before files" to have the entire list sorted (instead of grouped).

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  • No, that still doesn't sort properly...still getting '5' sorted before '0A' and the like.
    – Wolf
    Apr 5, 2011 at 13:32
  • It sorts '0A' before '5' in Thunar 1.0.2. Make sure that the sort is the correct direction. The default may not sort them 'correctly', but after sorting, it is correct.
    – Arcege
    Apr 7, 2011 at 1:24
  • I should have been more clear: the '5' in my example above should actually be 5 followed by non-digit characters. Bare '5' does after '0A'. But it also sorts '5' after '05c', and '01' after '0A'. And yes, the sort is in the correct (ascending) direction.
    – Wolf
    Apr 7, 2011 at 20:21

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