With the rapid development of the Internet of Things (IoT), the number of sensors utilized for the IoT is expected to exceed 200 billion by 2025. Thus, sustainable energy supplies without the recharging and replacement of the charge storage device have become increasingly important. Among various energy harvesters, the triboelectric nanogenerator (TENG) has attracted considerable attention due to its high instantaneous output power, broad selection of available materials, eco-friendly and inexpensive fabrication process, and various working modes customized for target applications. The TENG harvests electrical energy from wasted mechanical energy in the ambient environment. Three types of operational modes based on contact-separation, sliding, and freestanding are reviewed for two different configurations with a double-electrode and a single-electrode structure in the TENGs. Various charge transfer mechanisms to explain the operational principles of TENGs during triboelectrification are also reviewed for electron, ion, and material transfers. Thereafter, diverse methodologies to enhance the output power considering the energy harvesting efficiency and energy transferring efficiency are surveyed. Moreover, approaches involving not only energy harvesting by a TENG but also energy storage by a charge storage device are also reviewed. Finally, a variety of applications with TENGs are introduced. This review can help to advance TENGs for use in self-powered sensors, energy harvesters, and other systems. It can also contribute to assisting with more comprehensive and rational designs of TENGs for various applications.