15 Windows Explorer alternatives compared and reviewed

by Ross McKillop on October 11, 2006

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Windows Explorer, the default file manager for Microsoft Windows, hasn’t really changed all that much over the years. Below you’ll find reviews, screenshots and links to download 10 11 12 14 15 different alternatives.

If I haven’t included your favorite file manager (for Windows..) in this list, by all means please leave a comment below or feel free to contact me. I’d be more than happy to include it.

Update: I’ve done another 10 Windows Explorer reviews.

Name Cost Trial? Rating (x/5)
A43 free n/a ***½
Ac Browser Plus $21.00 yes **
CubicExplorer free n/a ***
Directory Opus AUD $85.00 yes (30 days) ****
ExplorerXP free n/a ***
Far Manager $25.00 yes (40 days) ***½
FileMatrix 24.00 yes ***
freeCommander free n/a ***½
PowerDesk Pro/Standard $39.95/free n/a **¾
Servant Salamander (2.5) $30 yes (30 days) ****
SpeedCommander 37.95 yes (60 days) ***
Total Commander $34 yes (30 days) ****
XPlorer free n/a ***½
xplorer² 19.95 yes (21 days) ***
XYplorer 29.95 yes (21 days) ****

A43

Requirements: Windows 2000, Windows XP
Download: http://www.primitus.us/a43/
Features:

  • Integrated text editor with unlimited size. Dynamic highlighting for the web.
  • Integrated zip/unzip features. Simply drag-n-drop files or click a button. You can also turn your zip archives into self-extracting archives the same way.
  • Integrated file search to quickly locate and jump to those lost files.
  • Integrated quick launch area for fast access to the programs you use the most.
  • Favorite buttons to quickly open those often used folders.
  • Dual-pane view for those that demand speed in file management.
  • Requires no installation, no data is written to the system registry. A43′s configuration information is saved in a local .ini file.
  • Keep it on your pen/jump drive and take it where ever you go.
  • Thoughts:
    A43 took up about 18mb of RAM after using it for 5 minutes. It dropped down to 3mb of RAM after 15 seconds of not using it. Its response time was very quick while renaming, moving and copying files. The drag-and-drop zip/unzip and rar/unrar feature is pretty neat – if I made zip files often I would find this very helpful. Also, you can fit A43 on a floppy and take it with you to use on any PC (doesn’t require an installation). The built-in text editor was easy to use, as was ‘quick launch’ section. The ‘file filter’ feature (use wildcards to sort files) is well located and works exactly as you’d expect. Between the features and the price, this is a file manager that I won’t delete right away.

    Screenshots:

    a43 file manager
    default view
    a43 file manager
    easy unzipping
       
    a43 file manager
    Tools list
    a43 file manager
    bottom pane – quick launch
       
    a43 file manager
    image preview
     

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    Ac Browser Plus

    Requirements: Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows XP
    Download: http://www.konradp.com/products/acbplus/
    Features:

  • ACFAT – find a file in a second! This service can index a chosen drive, and so you can query this index in a second, more: drive indexing.
  • Quick viewers.
  • Editorial Renaming. Rename files with ease, just like in a text editor.
  • Zip as folders, packing, unpacking with ease
  • Adding comments to files and directories
  • Script templates. You can write scripts (visual basic scripts, batch scripts- .bat, or anything else), which can be executed in the context of currently selected files or folders (thanks to the script templates).
  • Multi Window Interface.
  • Smart Renaming.
  • The font color, and other font specifications can be defined by the user, separately for every files extension.
  • Hot Point – a small red rectangle on each file shows you the file properties, and quick view (images, text and multimedia).
  • File Finder
  • Thumbnails’ view
  • Ability to follow the links while searching files.
  • Quick Access Bar – Displaying most frequently used folders and allowing you to filter out items from current file browser window
  • Keyboard shortcuts known from Norton Commander and Windows Explorer.
  • Thoughts:
    Lots of features, but the interface feels very “Windows 95″ at times. If it was free I would consider leaving it installed and maybe try it out for a while longer. Because some of the other file managers are as feature-rich (or more so) and have a more consistent (and at times much more attractive) interface, I can only give it two stars out of five.

    Screenshots:

    ac browser plus file manager
    easy to view detailed info
    ac browser plus file manager
    helpful scripts
       
    ac browser plus file manager
    purchase to change background
    ac browser plus file manager
    thumbnail view
       
    ac browser plus file manager
    extra navigation
    ac browser plus file manager
    ac browser plus options
       

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    CubicExplorer

    Requirements: Windows 95 (untested), 98, ME, NT (untested), 2000, XP, Vista (works, not supported yet)
    Download: http://www.cubicreality.com/ce/download
    Homepage: http://www.cubicreality.com/

    Features:

  • Tabbed browsing
  • Bookmarks
  • Text editor
  • File search
  • Thumbnails
  • Free disk space labels
  • Empty recycle bin button
  • Support for multiple languages
  • Thoughts:
    Here’s why I gave CubicExplorer 3 stars instead of 2 or 2½ – it has potential, and it’s free. Since it’s not even at version 1.0 yet (0.77a as of 10/13/06), it can only get better (right?). Unfortunately, the 0.77a has been around since March of this year, and the forum indicates that work on .80a started a while ago (but it’s still not out). With all of that said, the Quick View feature is something that I would use, frequently. Showing actual html code when an .html file is selected, rather than a ‘preview’ of the web page, is ideal for me. The built in text editor is excellent for stashing snipits of text, html, web page addresses etc, and allowing that text to be a tab is fantastic. While this version has too few features for me, I will certainly give the next one a try.

    Screenshots:

    CubicExplorer file manager
    default view
    CubicExplorer file manager
    CubicExplorer prefs
       
    CubicExplorer file manager
    Text as a tab
    CubicExplorer file manager
    Quick View files

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    Directory Opus

    Requirements: Windows 95/98/ME or NT4/2000/XP
    Download: http://www.gpsoft.com.au/DScripts/Download.asp
    Homepage: http://www.gpsoft.com.au/Index.html
    Features:

  • Powerful File Manager & Explorer Replacement
  • User-definable File Display Views
  • User-definable Toolbars, Menus, File Types
  • Advanced built-in Image and File Viewers
  • Built-in ZIP and Advanced FTP
  • Visually Synchronize Files & Find Duplicates
  • Advanced Search and Rename Functions
  • More Configurable than any other program
  • Easy Slideshows…and much more..
  • Thoughts:
    Directory Opus is a great File Manager. There are a lot of features and options, and nearly every aspect of this program is customizable. It really is an Explorer replacement, and it offers to do so during the installation – so when you open any folder, Directory Opus will launch. The built-in FTP client works exactly as you’d expect. The many different view options are easy to access and just “make sense”. While in use, Directory Opus took up 28MB of memory on my system. The instant that it’s minimized, its memory use dropped to 1MB. If I used Windows more often, I would gladly pay the $85.00 to purchase this software. In fact, the next time I have a day job that requires Windows use, I will.

    Screenshots:

    Directory Opus
    quick ftp connect
    Directory Opus
    contextual (and excellent) auto-help
       
    Directory Opus
    thumbnail view
    Directory Opus
    extra (audio) file info
       
    Directory Opus
    nag screen
    Directory Opus
    id3 editing
       
    Directory Opus
    huge “file” list
    Directory Opus
    replace Windows Explorer

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    ExplorerXP

    Requirements: Windows 2000, Windows XP
    Download: http://www.explorerxp.com/index.html#download (scroll to the bottom)
    Homepage: http://www.explorerxp.com/
    Features:

  • Tabbed interface
  • Easy access to My Computer, Recycle Bin , My Documents & Desktop
  • Drag & Drop with Explorer, the tab bar and special folders on the main toolbar.
  • Multy rename tool – allows to rename multiple files in one step.
  • Displays folder size information and the real size of compressed files & folders.
  • Folder Size Cache – greatly improves the speed of the folder size calculations between sessions.
  • Advanced copy/move.
  • Unicode support.
  • USB devices support.
  • Clean – recursively removes files that match given list of extentions or wildcards.
  • Groups – A group is a collection of folders, which users are able to access quickly or drag & drop files to them.
  • Configurable keyboard shortcuts.
  • Small download size – only 410 KB.
  • Thoughts:
    Pretty straight forward Explorer-like File Manager. While it doesn’t have as many features as many of the other reviewed file managers, it is free (for non-commercial use) and makes a great “first” upgrade for beginners. Anyone who has used Windows Explorer for more than 5 minutes will feel right at home using ExplorerXP.

    Screenshots

    ExplorerXP
    default view
    ExplorerXP
    two windows
       
    ExplorerXP
    ExplorerXP prefs
    ExplorerXP
    command list

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    Far Manager

    Requirements: Windows 95, 98, ME, NT, 2000 or XP
    Download: http://www.farmanager.com/download.php?l=en
    Homepage: http://www.farmanager.com/index.php?l=en
    Features:

  • Far Manager is a program for managing files and archives in Windows operating systems. Far Manager works in text mode and provides a simple and intuitive interface for performing most of the necessary actions: viewing files and directories, editing, copying and renaming files and many other operations.
  • Customize it – Far Manager has a multi-language, easily configurable interface. File system navigation is made easier through the use of color highlighting and file sort groups.
  • Your task – your way. The functionality of Far Manager is greatly extended by external DLL modules – plugins (made possible by a special set of interfaces – the Plugins API). For example, archive support, the FTP client, the temporary panel and the network browser are all implemented as plugins included in the standard distribution of Far.
  • Thoughts:
    Far Manager is a pretty old-school File Manager. Mouse support is provided, but this is a File Manager for keyboard commandos. Very cool plugins add great extra features (FTP, email, Winamp control etc). I’m not sure that I’ll pay for this File Manager, but I will be using it until the 40 days is up before I decide.

    Screenshots:

    Far Manager
    Far Manager default view
    Far Manager
    execute a command in Far
       
    Far Manager
    select multiple files
    Far Manager
    built in text viewer
       
    Far Manager
    search in Far
     

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    FileMatrix

    Requirements: Windows 98, ME, NT4 SP6, 2000, XP or Vista
    Homepage: http://www.gardenerofthoughts.org/ideas/filematrix/index.htm
    Features:

  • Basic. Extensive integrated help (configuration and help wizard, hints), between 1 and 10 columns for navigation in directories, 30 sets of columns called boards for organizing sets of directories, directory tree navigator, thumbnail pictures, drag-and-drop between columns and boards and to / from other applications, skins, special graphical effects.
  • Advanced. 20 containers (which are lists of files that can store, for example, the results of a search), picture converter (including the ability to normalize pictures to a specified size), media player (with the possibility to resume playing later), mouse gestures with a user interface called mouse menu, file hover information (which includes a thumbnail and a played media clip), text search with ranking (like an online search engine), steganography integrated with the viewer / editor (noise management included).
  • Thoughts:
    FileMatrix is quite unique among all of the other File Managers reviewed in this article. The interface is much different than the typical explorer-style manager. The use of “boards” and “containers” makes viewing and grouping files a snap. If you’re tired of the same-old-file-manager, give this one a try. And be sure to make use of the included Wizards and help files – they will really come in handy.

    Screenshots:

    file matrix
    thumbnail view
    FileMatrix
    right-click options
       
    FileMatrix
    tools options
    FileMatrix
    image converter
       
    FileMatrix
    config and help wizard (very helpful!)
    FileMatrix
    nag screen

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    freeCommander

    Requirements: Windows 95, 98, ME, NT (from version 4.0), 2000, XP, Vista (?)
    Download: http://www.freecommander.com/fc_downl_en.htm
    Homepage: http://www.freecommander.com/

    Features:

  • Dual-panel technology – horizontal and vertical
  • Optional tree view for each panel
  • Built in file viewer to view files in hex, binary, text or image format
  • File viewer inside archives too
  • Built in archive handling: ZIP (read, write), CAB (read, write), RAR (read)
  • Nested archive handling
  • Easy access to system folders, control panel, desktop and start menu
  • Copy, move, delete, rename files and folders
  • Wipe files
  • Create and verify MD5 checksums
  • File splitting
  • File properties and context menu
  • Calculation of folder size
  • Folder comparison / synchronization
  • Modification of file date and attributes
  • Folder / program favorites
  • File searching (inside archive too)
  • File filters for display
  • User defined columns for detailed view
  • Support for Tortoise icons
  • DOS command line
  • Multiple language support
  • Thoughts:
    ‘Easy access to system folders’ is one of the features that first jumped out at me. My immediate thought was “why isn’t that in all file managers?” I may have overlooked it in some of the others, so I certainly won’t say that this is the only one that has this feature. “Size of folders” (not enabled by default) does slow things down – as freeCommander calculates and displays the folder size. With that said, it’s very handy to try and figure out where your hard drive space has gone, and easy to get to when you need it. The image preview was a bit slow for me compared to most of the others. The screenshot feature allows you to chose between image types (bmp and jpg) and even adjust the quality. I think the biggest drawback to freeCommander is the lack of built in FTP support, and I suppose it’s not that big of a deal. This program, though free, is donation-worthy.

    Screenshots:

    freeCommander file manager
    quick access to System Folders
    freeCommander file manager
    freeCommander prefs
       
    freeCommander file manager
    Extras menu
    freeCommander file manager
    Quick access to Programs
       
    freeCommander
    default freeCommander view
     

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    PowerDesk Pro/Standard

    Requirements: Windows 98, ME, NT4, 2000, XP, or 2003
    Download: http://www.shop.avanquest.com/usa/trial_form.php?pid=686
    Homepage: http://www.v-com.com/product/PowerDesk_Pro_Home.html
    Features:

  • Dual pane operation
  • Layout Manager
  • Add Notes to Your Files!
  • Customize Your File Folders with Color
  • File Info column
  • MP3 Collection Management
  • Thoughts:
    OK here’s my beef.. It’s not a bad File Manager at all. It’s very customizable, has all of the features you’d expect, but the ones you really want to try (add notes to files, ftp, sync folders) are only available in the Pro version (which there’s no trial for). The Standard version is free, but has a ‘nag’ bar that takes up too much screen real-estate. I would much rather a 10 day fully-functional demo version before I decide to lay down $40. Also, they added me to a mailing list when I specifically said I did not want to join (you must provide an email address to download the demo).

    Screenshots:

    PowerDesk Standard
    horizontal view
    PowerDesk Standard
    file filter
       
    PowerDesk Standard
    PowerDesk Standard options
    PowerDesk Standard
    Tools list
       
    PowerDesk Standard
    customize the toolbar
     

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    Servant Salamander (2.5)

    Requirements: Windows 95, 98, ME, NT 4, 2000, or XP
    Download: http://www.altap.cz/download.html
    Homepage: http://www.altap.cz/

    Features:

    This is a list of the main features for version 2.5 RC1. All details/features for v2.5 can be found here, and v2.0 here.

  • Better Wildcard Selecting Files And Directories Against Windows Explorer
  • Calculate Occupied Space: Disk Space Usage Analyser
  • Change file or directory date, time, attributes: read-only system hidden
  • Change Case of Files and Directories Names: lower, upper
  • Batch File Converter: convert coding CP1250, CP852, IBM EBCDIC, ASCII
  • Copy File and Directory Names (Filenames) to Windows Clipboard
  • Directory Size, Folder Size: total size of directory, disk usage information
  • Drive Information: Disk Label, Size, Space, and File System Analyser
  • Filter Files (Filenames) by Names Using Wildcards, Hide File Names
  • Find Files and Directories, Find Duplicate Files, Find Hidden File
  • Make Directory File List, List Files and Directories, Save to Text File
  • Quick Search: Focus File or Directory (Folder) Name
  • Shared Directories: View List, Explore Shares, Stop Sharing
  • Skip and Overwrite files confirmations during Copy and Move operations
  • Thumbnail Images, display photo thumbnails for our image gallery
  • Keyboard Shortcuts for Servant Salamander
  • Copy newer files: overwrite older and skip other existing files
  • Move or copy files in queue, queuing file operations
  • Copy, Move, Rename, Delete Files and Directories in Windows
  • Email Files as Attachments in Windows, Pack Large Files
  • Pack files and directories, Open, Browse, and Unpack archives
  • Compare Directories, Files by Size, Date, Time, Attributes, and Content
  • Shortcut Target: opens directory containing the target of a shortcut
  • NTFS Compress and Uncompress, NTFS Encrypt and Decrypt
  • Regular Expression: Find Files, Grep Files, Rename Files, Viewer
  • Thoughts:
    At the suggestion of a number of commenters, I downloaded and installed Servant Salamander 2.5 RC1. It’s another Norton Commander-style inspired file manager, and a pretty great one at that. It has every feature you’d expect, and then some. The plug-ins allow for features that go above and beyond a file manager (screenshots, encrypt and decrypt, sftp/scp etc). The ability to set a ‘skill level’ is a great idea. Executing commands is not only easy, but the command window doesn’t automatically close once the command has been executed! As it stands right now, I can’t pick a “winner” between Servant Salamander and Total Commander. I’m quite sure that it just comes down to personal preference. If Norton Commander-style file managers are your thing, I would strongly suggest you try both Total Commander and Servant Salamander, and decide for yourself which is best. If you’re on a limited budget, go for freeCommander. When the demo versions expire, I plan on buying either Total or Servant – I’ll update this after I decide.

    Screenshots:

    Servant Salamander file manager
    default view
    Servant Salamander file manager
    Servant Salamander plug-ins
       
    Servant Salamander file manager
    Servant Salamander prefs
    Servant Salamander file manager
    set a user level
       
    Servant Salamander file manager
    map network drives
    Servant Salamander file manager
    execute commands
     

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    SpeedCommander

    Requirements: Windows 95/98/98SE, Windows ME, Windows NT 4, Windows 2000, XP, 2003, Windows XP/2003 x64 Edition
    Download: http://www.speedproject.de/enu/download.html
    Homepage: http://www.speedproject.de/enu/speedcommander/index.html
    Features:

  • Proven Two Window Technology
  • Extensive Archive Support
  • Add-In Interface
  • Macros
  • Enhanced FTP Functions
  • Native 64-bit Version for Windows XP/2003 x64 Edition
  • Thoughts:
    Lots of features (built in browser is cool) and very snappy response times. Macros are simple to use. Worth checking out, but the price is a bit steep. If I had an x64 version of Windows I would be anxious to try out this app.

    Screenshots

    speedcommander
    default view
    speed commander
    View options
       
    speedcommander
    File options
    speedcommander
    Run a command
       
    speedcommander
    Preview files
    speedcommander
    Launch apps
       

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    Total Commander

    Requirements: Windows 95, 98, ME, Windows NT 4.0, Windows 2000, and Windows XP. 16bit version available for Win 3.1. Another for Windows CE and the Pocket PC.
    Download: http://www.ghisler.com/download.htm
    Homepage: http://www.ghisler.com/
    Features:

  • Direct access to Network Neighbourhood
  • Supports Drag & Drop with Explorer/the Desktop etc.
  • Command line for starting of programs with parameters, simply by typing the program name or by pressing ctrl+enter or ctrl+shift+enter.
  • Configurable button bar and Start menu (User-defined commands) to place your frequently used DOS or Windows programs into a drop-down menu. The actual directory and/or the file under the cursor can be delivered to the application.
  • Configurable main menu.
  • Built in file viewer (Lister) to view files of any size in hex, binary or text format, using either the ASCII- (DOS) or the ANSI- (Windows) character set. The line width and font size can now be changed. You can even view files inside archives! New: Support for Unicode UTF-8 format.
  • Bitmap viewer in Lister, additional formats through Irfanview (see addons).
  • HTML- and Unicode-Viewer in Lister.
  • Parallel port transfer function (direct cable connection), works between Win95/98/NT/2000/3.1 and DOS!
  • Thumnbails view shows preview images in file lists.
  • Custom columns view allow to show additional file details.
  • Total Commander comes in the following languages: English, German, French, Italian, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Dutch, Spanish, Czech, Russian, Polish, Hungarian, and now also Hebrew, Greek, Afrikaans, Catalan, Turkish and Ukrainian
  • Built-in FTP client supports most public FTP servers
  • Archives are handled like subdirectories. You can easily copy files to and from archives.
  • Extended copying, moving, renaming and deleting of entire trees (Enables deleting “full” directories).
  • Thoughts:
    Having only used it for about 30 minutes total (so far), take these comments with a grain of salt. Total Commander appears to be the fastest file manager in terms of response times. I asked it to calculate the size of 14 folders (that contained a couple hundred files) and it immediatley gave me the answer. The hard drive didn’t clunk away trying to count files, it just happened. As the screenshots below demonstrate, Total Commander looks very old school (though there are many options to customize the look and feel). As the name implies, it’s styled after Norton Commander, and as you’d expect it can be completely controlled via the keyboard. At $34 USD I’m curious to compare it to Free Commander (see comments at the bottom). I reserve the right to bump this up to 4 stars after I look at Free Commander :)

    Screenshots:

    total commander file manager
    Total Commander prefs
    total commander file manager
    default view
       
    total commander file manager
    FTP view
    total commander file manager
    customize the button bar
       
    total commander file manager
    calculate file/folder sizes
     

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    XPlorer

    NOTE: a number of folks have mentioned that XPlorer may include a trojan (AVG catches it as Trojan Horse Generic10.AEGX). I’ve removed the download link, but left the URL available if you want to copy and paste it into your browser and try downloading it/living on the edge.
    Requirements: Windows 95, 98, ME, NT 4.0, 2000, XP, 2003 or Vista
    Download: http://guti.webcindario.com/static.php?page=XPlorer (scroll to download section)
    Features:

  • True multitabbed interface with independent combo, tree and list for each tab.
  • Blazing fast program execution.
  • Small footprint, can be run from floppy disks, USB devices, hard disks, …
  • Quick startup time.
  • High productive interface, almost every command is accessible optionally by keyboard.
  • Internal file viewer.
  • Internal file editor.
  • File toucher.
  • Command prompt here feature.
  • Split files in fragments.
  • Join fragment files.
  • Clean unneeded files.
  • Select files by wildcard selection.
  • Show files by filter.
  • Thoughts:
    Arguably the most Windows Explorer-like of all the reviewed File Managers, XPlorer is certainly better than the default Windows Explorer. Here’s my only real complaint – when you delete a file, it remains ‘visible’ in the list of files until you refresh the screen. And you can only refresh by hitting F5 on your keyboard (no right-click, no Edit > Refresh etc). That one annoying ‘feature’ is enough for me not to use it (I replicated this problem on 3 different Windows XP machines). If that kind of thing doesn’t bother you, by all means check this one out because it’s not bad otherwise.

    Screenshots:

    XPlorer
    default view
    XPlorer
    right-click options
       
    XPlorer
    Xplorer options
    XPlorer
    File list

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    xplorer²

    Requirements: Windows 98, ME, NT, 2000, XP, 2003
    Download: http://zabkat.com/x2down.htm
    Homepage: http://zabkat.com
    Features:

  • Shell namespace explorer
  • Tabbed dual-pane interface
  • Instant preview of files
  • Browsing flexibility
  • View & edit text files
  • Extended file information
  • Search for files everywhere, using arbitrary criteria
  • Find text within office, Adobe PDF and other documents
  • Manage files from many folders simultaneously
  • Compare and synchronize folders
  • Discover and cleanup duplicate files
  • Execute DOS commands and scripts
  • Customizable user interface
  • Help and assistance where you need it
  • Individual folder settings
  • Visual filters and selection engine
  • Advanced file management
  • Robust file transfers
  • Throughts:
    The ability to search for files everywhere, with Omni-Finder, is actually very cool/powerful. The built-in Help is very useful, as it explains all of the features (and how to use them) clearly, with illustrations. At first glance xplorer² appears fairly average, digging deeper shows it to be a powerful File Manager.

    Screenshots:

    xplorer2
    default view
    xplorer2
    preview window
       
    xplorer2
    Tools list
    xplorer2
    System navigation
       
    xplorer2
    Commands via a container
     

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    XYplorer

    Requirements: Windows 95, 98, NT, ME, 2000, XP or Vista
    Download: http://www.xyplorer.com/download.htm
    Homepage: http://www.xyplorer.com/index.htm/

    Features:

  • Tabbed Browsing
  • Searches in Tabs
  • The Address Bar accepts not just folders, but also files, URLs, and search terms
  • The Tree and List offer a suite of (partly revolutionary) highlighting options to increase visual grip.
  • Catalog: Your favorite locations reside deep down in some heavily nested structures? Lift them to the surface!
  • Panel: The hideable tabbed panel at the bottom provides quick access to information (file properties and previews) and action (Find Files, Reports).
  • Find Files: XYplorer is a file manager featuring a high-end search engine
  • Save your current search settings to a template for later re-use. Very handy with complex search patterns or distributed search locations.
  • New in 5.20 Breadcrumb: Ctrl+Backspace will pop up the coolest breadcrumb you can get. It takes no screen space, is 100% keyboard-driven, and takes you up and down relative to your current location.
  • New in 5.20 Drop-Text-To-File: You can drag & drop a selectable text or data chunk from any other application onto a folder in XYplorer, where it will be automatically converted into a *.txt-file or an *.rtf file, depending on the content.
  • My Network Places, Server Management: Network servers are internally stored and remembered between sessions!
  • Instant Preview of image (incl. PNG, JPEG, GIF, TIFF, ICO and many more, using high-quality resampling for shrinking/zooming), audio, and video files (displaying detailed media information).
  • Thumbnails of image files can be shown right in the details view, introducing the unique “Mouse Down Blow Up” functionality.
  • Instant Preview of installed and uninstalled TrueType and Type-1 font files (displaying detailed font information).
  • Instant Preview of Office files, and of HTML, MHT, PHP files (including configurable server mappings) with printing option.
  • larger list of features here
  • Thoughts:
    Wow. It only took a couple of minutes of looking around to see some features that I’d never seen before (drop text to file, ctrl+backspace breadcrumb) – and some that I’ve seen before but never this detailed (see the “Rename Special” screenshot below). If you click and hold the left mouse button on an image (in the Preview area) it enlarges until you release the mouse button. Very cool. XYplorer appears to have a slighly larger memory-footprint than Directory Opus (the only other Explorer-style file manager that I gave 4 stars), but it is less expensive.

    Screenshots:

    XYplorer file manager
    default view
    XYplorer file manager
    Rename special
       
    XYplorer file manager
    hover info
    XYplorer file manager
    Tools menu
    XYplorer file manager
    XYplorer prefs
    XYplorer file manager
    customize the Toolbar

    Whichever Windows Explorer alternative you opt for, RegistryBooster 2009 will ensure your PC runs as fast as possible and significantly improve overall system stability.

    If you’re looking for even more, I’ve done another 10 Windows Explorer reviews/overviews.

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    • http://lastinglinks.com Ken Holm

      Total Commander is a very nice package. You can do all navigation without touching your mouse. Very fast with nice, tight integrations.

      http://www.ghisler.com/

    • http://www.simplehelp.net Ross

      Ken -

      Downloading now, will add it to this list later this evening. Cheers -

      Ross

    • http://www.cyberzilla.com Cyber Zilla

      great roundup, good reviews. well laid out.

    • neuralien

      you forgot to mention FreeCommander
      http://www.freecommander.com/

      it’s a free version of TotalCommander and very good

    • Justin

      Not a bad “quick” review, although I was surprised to see ExplorerXP (which has clearly been abandoned long ago) and XPlorer (which appears to have also been abandoned) in the review. In my search for the holy grail of file managers almost two years ago I came across XYplorer (http://www.xyplorer.com). It is a VERY powerful file manager that is roughly half the cost of Directory Opus (which is a nice file manager), comes with a lifetime license (no cost to upgrade to future versions), and is constantly being improved upon. New features and bugfixes are released almost daily!

    • http://www.simplehelp.net Ross

      Justin,

      Right now I’m checking out Total Commander, and after I update this w/ it I’ll download and install XY. Then FreeCommander.

    • http://tech.xptechsupport.com Tech Tips

      Thanks for the list. I am not sure I need an alternative to Explorer but this is always a hot topic. A43 btw is a great product on the Windows Ultimate Boot CD

    • http://www.bolourian.com Ali Bolourian

      Thanks for the nice review. I might switch to Directory Opus after all. Currently I’m using Servant Salamander which is a great replacement too.

      http://www.altap.cz/salam_en/index.html

    • bdbr

      I keep trying different file managers, and I keep coming back to Servant Salamander. It starts up very fast and works great.

    • Justin

      Ross,

      Thanks for this great list, and thanks for taking a look at some other file managers! For XY, be sure to go into the “Beta Club” (the forums) and get the latest beta…the betas are rock solid and have more features than whatever is available as an “official” release.

    • Lefty Mills

      According to the features listed above, Total Commander is the only one to have Direct access to Network Neighbourhood. This means that I have full access to all the folders and files of the other computers on my LAN.

      As I have a 3 computer home network, I wouldn’t use anything else but Total Commander.

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    • Michael

      Another one well worth a look is Cubic Explorer (www.cubicreality.com). It has a tabbed interface and bookmarking facility. And the installer-free download functions well as a portable app.

    • http://www.simplehelp.net Ross

      I guess I know what I’m doing tomorrow. I added Total Commander and freeCommander this evening, tomorrow I’ll add XYplorer (beta), Servant Salamander, Cubic Explorer and maybe the non-beta of XY. Thanks to all for the feedback and suggestions!

      Ross

    • http://spaces.live.com/anandasim Ananda Sim

      Total Commander. Always better. Long test history. Long history of development since Windows 3.1. Robust in networked environment. Robust when it hits hardware / OS errors. Does FTP and has many plugins (many of them free). Has a portable option so it will be install-free on a USB stick. Fits on a floppy if you do not load plugins. Behaviour is “safe” – defaults never make you lose data or cause confusion (e.g. is it copy or is it move?). Does not suppress the right click context menu. Many shortcut keys and can be driven using keyboard instead of mouse. Author has been quick and responsive – this is randomly over many years. Many, many features which are not surfaced by the menus.

    • James

      Total Commander. 5/5 Stars.

      Give that baby time.

    • http://www.simplehelp.net Ross

      Ananda and James,

      Between your comments and those over at Digg, it sounds like I really have to spend some more time w/ Total Commander. The number of folks who are so passionate about it makes me think that there’s a lot more to it. And everyone who does comment mentions that the author is really good about feedback and fixes, which is a huge plus.

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    • wovawi

      Folderview, http://www.folderview.com is also nice!

    • http://www.burek.co.yu Ivan Minic

      What a nice job you did with this

    • Moa

      Total commander is for me the best solution.
      For sure, you can’t test it in 30 minutes, there is hundreds of possibles commands which may help you to save a lot of time, and many of them are not in the menu but you can add them with your own customized menu.
      The tab function is really cool and help to save time.
      Many plugins are available to open any archive (iso, img and all compressed files), plugin for sftp, etc…

      If you look for big icons with picture preview go away. If you don’t want to spend your time managing your files, that’s the solution.

      If there is one software to buy for windows, it’s Total Commander.

    • http://www.iteam5.net/blog francesco

      total commander is the best!

    • profreecommander

      freecommander is by far the best one. Polish programmers kick ass :)

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    • http://www.hzsolution.net Hui Zhou

      No one is using 2xExplorer? (Try google “2xExplorer”)

    • http://www.davidcarta.com David Carta

      Total Commander has so many features that it boggles the mind. On many occasions, I have e-mailed Christian Ghisler (the author) asking for a feature only to have him tell me that it had already been implemented.

      Archive packer (or plug-in) supports every type of compressed fule I’ve come across.

      Also, in addition to the extensive collection of plug-ins on the site, there is an independent site of TC plugins at:
      http://www.totalcmd.net/
      With these plug-ins you can do almost anything: sftp, database browsing, Linux drive support, ISO image support, formatted viewing of files (code, images, animations, etc), iPod connectivity, etc.

    • http://www.glenneroo.com glenneroo

      the link for xplorer2 is wrong and there is a free lite version (non commercial use) >
      http://zabkat.com/x2lite.htm

      i bought total commander a few years ago, but gave up on it due to some annoyances that just drove me insane near the end. Then i found xplorer2 and its so much faster and does exactly what i want… a simple explorer replacement that looks nice right after install, doesnt need 500 plugins to make it “work”, very intuitive and similar to win Explorer, and doesn’t have strange cryptic hot-keys to do simple stuff. But i do admittedly miss the FTP that Total Commander afforded me.

      so why did xplorer2 get only 3 stars even tho you listed no cons about it?

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    • lloyd

      let me weigh in with another thumbs up for XYplorer. at one pt, i tried most of those others and they came up short, at least for me. not so xy. i love it!

      the only thing all of them are missing (as far as i know) is a harddisk size analyzer such as idisk. with the addition of that, XY’d be the ginchiest.

    • http://keith.hostmatrix.org Keith

      What a good list of Windows Explorer alternatives, guess what, I’m still going to stick to use MS Windows Explorer. Installing those applications may just wreck havoc to my system.

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    • daneel

      how about blackbox for windows ?

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    • http://www.cekay.de Chris

      I liek this side. It`s well done and informative. Thank you for this!
      I miss a thing that bugged me in Explorer always:
      If you try to delete or copy a couple of files and one seems to be in use, there is only “abort” or “ok” and it doesn`t continue. So stupid. Yet I only know Directory is able just to continue (and I like the transfer info box) but it`s not free and only for this feature I don`t wanna spent AUD $85,00. So maybe you know wich of those is able to handle file copy/delete as it should!
      Thank you

      Chris

    • Jaen

      Total Commander… sure, the interface is ugly and not very intuitive, but as a power-user tool, it’s absolutely unreplaceable. Shows its best with age.

      Having used various commanders for over 10 years now, Total Commander is my final choice.

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    • fistandoodle

      Very nice list.

      I personally use xplorer² at home and love it.
      I especially love that its got tabs. Hit ctrl+insert and you get a new tab! And to go to a different directory, just click the name of the directory you want (say, you are at c:\documents and settings\username\application data\microsoft\internet explorer\ and you want to go back to application data, click on that subdirectory without having to hit the .. or “up” to bet you back there. Its the only app with it and I have become used to it).

      At work I use A43, since its free (and not just for non commercial use).

      An interesting new dual pane explorer replacement I just found is File Commander.
      http://www.godlikesoft.de/
      Quick access to regedit, scandisk, defrag. Picture, text, hex, html, audio preview options. Favorites menu. Compare directories/files, create screenshots, network monitor, compress, split, burn on CD, DOS window shortcut, Computer uptime, clock.
      Original language is German, I believe, and some of the menu options and tooltips aren’t translated into English.

      Great list, though. Thanks. :)

    • eye2spy

      You list should contain Servant Salmander. Its an excellent file manager feature wise. User it daily and can’t live without it.

    • Eyeshag Knightly

      I have personally used Total Commander (Windows Commander) since the 3.1 days and I can honestly say it is the one tool I have kept with me wherever I go in this industry. For the longest time I was even still carrying the disk that Christian sent me with my license. Even now as new plug-ins are developed, integrating the added functionality into my day by day usage requires nary an additional thought.

      I have used Directory Opus and agree that it is feature rich and definitely a boon to those tethered to a mouse all day, but what was lost in simple, easy to learn keyboard combos far outweighed the bells and whistles that might be used only once or twice.

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    • Brian K

      Another recommendation for Servant Salamander. I’d be absolutely lost without it.

    • Dave Entwistle

      Total Commander is the first thing I install on any fresh Windows installation (even before additional drivers); I’ve been using it for about 2 years now, and I still find new (useful!) features every now and then… Windows Explorer is a joke :§)

    • Michael G

      I see Servant Salamander already commented on a few times. I absolutely love it, myself. Haven’t used Windows Explorer for awhile now.

    • Escu

      I’m not sure why you’re using FAR Manager in 80×25 resolution. If you press Alt-F9, the window’ll stretch to cover the whole screen. Also, raster fonts suck. A TrueType one, like Lucida Console or Courier, looks much better and can benefit from ClearType on an LCD.
      And here’s a bit of trivia: if you press Alt+F6 over a file, you can create an NTFS hardlink for it (or softlink for a folder), and I’m pretty sure no other file manager can do that.
      There’s a lot more to FAR than meets the eye, and when you start scripting it with macros and adding plugins, you’ll never want to use anything else.

    • Ken D

      After reading a few reviews I skipped down to your review of Xplorer2. It’s the only one of these programs that I know well. Xplorer2 is a very deep program with very strong, unique features, none of which are mentioned. Your review of it is so cursory and devoid of information that would make the review useful that – I’m sorry – it harms your credibility for reviewing these programs.

      However, thanks for pulling together this grouping and providing the links.

    • http://www.simplehelp.net Ross

      Ken,

      Not to get too defensive, but if I listed all of the features for each of the file managers, this would be hundreds of pages long. The “features” part of each section is a copy/paste (with minor edits) from the respective developers webpage. If the features you love aren’t listed, suggest to the developer that they’re not marketing their product as well as they could be. Regardless, I’m glad you found this semi-useful.

      Cheers,

      Ross

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    • J Hallgren

      Found this site via a post on XYplorer forum…and for Chris, check out this thread about how XY handles locked files: here

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    • http://braintoast.com mister jason

      Your review dropped into my lap when I finally decided to take some time to search for an alternative to Explorer. I wasn’t happy with the couple I had found on my own.

      Based on a look at your rundowns, I gave a few more a try and have settled on XYPlorer. It’s exactly what I wanted and more…but not *too* much more. I’ve managed to kill 4 other misc. single task apps with XYPlorer.

      Thanks for the roundup, Ross…good work!

    • http://www.simplehelp.net Ross

      Heya Jason – thanks for the compliment!

      Check out the XY forums if you haven’t already – I’ve been browsing around tonight and the folks over there are pretty helpful. Cheers,

      Ross

    • Luis Breda

      Total Commander: 6/5, or (n+1)/n in any scale. Period.

    • Reuven
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    • http://generalspecialist.com Jonas

      All I want to add to Windows Explorer is the ability to copy files smarter, so that I get the option to replace files with the same name but with newer change-dates. So far, TotalCommander is the only one I’ve found that does this, but the UI is so hideous that I can’t bring myself to using it for anything else.

      Isn’t there anything out there that just does this simple task?

    • http://www.hucklesby.com David Hucklesby

      What a great resource. Thanks!

      I have been using Power Desk Pro for several years, but they moved their web site and I thought them defunct. My main reason for buying it is that it has “Outside-In” technology to view almost any type of file, even if the file type (extension) is missing or wrong in many cases.

      Now I can upgrade. Yay!

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    • J Hallgren

      The one feature that I needed was the ability to search for files that were modified during a selected time of day, like the prior 15 minutes. I was directed to XYplorer via another forum back in Jan 2006, and have been hooked ever since! It has built-in ability to do this easily, and also allows one to show the age of files in list mode, so locating files that are more than, for example, 45 days old is a breeze!

      I’ve been dealing with PC’s for many years and have never found a shareware developer who is as responsive to user feedback and needs as this author is! You’d sometimes think it was a team of developers but it’s not…he’s just that quick and talented!

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    • Ferry

      I’ve been using DirOpus since day 1, and I really mean day 1!, back when it was created for Amiga computers. Windows 3.1 wasn’t even released. I still use latest version for Amiga 68k (new version for PPC Amigas is near to completion) and a PPC version of DOpus4 everyday, as well as the PC/Windows version. Best file manager/Explorer replacement ever!

      BTW, it can be used as Workbench (Explorer equivalent) replacement in Amiga too…

    • Mark

      I was looking for a *group rename* function. e.g. all files of the group DSC###, rename in place to SomeProject_Date_###.

      IrfanView does this for jpgs, but I can’t make any of these programs do this. I do this every week with hundreds of files.

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    • Justin`

      Seeing the Matrix up here, I had to point you to http://www.thedailywtf.com, where it was featured a couple months back. Definitely more than enough rope there to hang yourself:

      http://thedailywtf.com/forums/thread/77174.aspx

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    • http://www.simplehelp.net Ross

      I’m actually just making this post to test the “Notify me of followup comments via e-mail” feature that I just enabled.

      For those interested, I’m also in the middle of using 3 ‘other’ file managers that were suggested here and via the contact form, I’m hoping that I can get the list up to 20 before I’m done. Thanks to everyone for the feedback and suggestions!

    • http://www.simplehelp.net Ross

      Just another follow-up test to see if the new WP plugin works.

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    • marc klink

      I use xplorer² and find it ok, but I still miss the days of DOS and XTree Pro Gold. There was none better! I really wonder why no one has made a replacement [and I don't consider ZTree Bold a relacement]. The control-tag and alt-tag abilities were GREAT!

    • NIck

      Good review.
      I think Frigate is a file manager decent enough to be reviewed as well (2 panels view, integrated browser, dialer, text editor clock, skinnable) though i prefer Total Commander since it was Windows Commander. Replaced not only that lame Explorer, but a CD-burner, FTP client, registry, NT services and tasks management. Even wrote an article (in russian) about Total Commander. Used TC as a shell for some time – it lacks systray for this matter.

      Jaen, comment 39:
      Total Commander… sure, the interface is ugly
      It is highly customizable so one can greately enhance TC’s appearance (background/file type colors, menus, icons, buttons…)

      Moa, comment 29:
      If you look for big icons with picture preview go away.
      Or you may stay with TC and make those icons BIG and a thumbnail preview is great and clean (doesn’t leave trash files like Explorer and ACDSee thumbs.db)

      Jonas, comment 60:
      TotalCommander is the only one I’ve found that does this, but the UI is so hideous that I can’t bring myself to using it for anything else.

      Ever tried to read help file? (press F1)

      Mark, comment 68:
      I was looking for a *group rename* function
      Total Commander has an advanced group rename tool
      (Ctrl+M)

    • jbgoode

      Nice job dude but personally I’d recommend Win Commander, aka Total Commander as a different kind of App since it’s a super-tool for power users mostly, that does everything you’d expect from a file manager X100!
      TC is a mini-OS to me! It doesn’t write one single registry entry in your system and is a spin-doctor with archives and FTP browsing!
      If you’d bothered to look at its plugin support you’d see why this tool is unique! and no …I don’t work for
      Christian Ghisler LOL!

    • rekna

      Recently I found Turbo Navigator, freeware,i’ve use several of the freeware explorers mentioned above, but Turbo Navigator seems to ‘feel right’ for me…

    • Neta Amit

      When I wanted to create a new directory/file and give it a Hebrew name XYPlorer (eval) did not accommodate. A43 & Dir Opus just did it…
      –Neta

    • http://mysite.wanadoo-members.co.uk/padleywood/index.html Ian Anderson

      I’m always surprised at the reviews Xplorer2 receives. Also that the free (Lite) version never gets a mention. For me, the tree plus dual-pane view, coupled with tabbed browsing in each pane, fully navigable folder paths, as well as a per-tab folder history make it incredibly flexible for moving around the folder structure. Add in the choices for mouse- or keyboard-driven navigation, folder synchronisation, filters, bookmarks, text editor, preview pane… and I’ve never found a better freebie. Still, good to have a comparative review on a single page :-)

    • jeff

      I tried a bunch of the explorers listed here. I ended up purchasing xyplorer because it has a good set of features without being too complicated, and because the developer responded rapidly to my questions. He was even willing to quickly add a feature that I needed (although a second feature I requested was more complicated and so it’s been added to his queue).

      Directory Opus, as you might be able to guess by the price, is easily the richest, most feature laden product. There’s a lot to learn and the price is high. On top of that, the license only allows you to install it on a single machine; I’ve got several machines at work and several machines at home (all of which are used only by me), so this would be a very expensive proposition (a more reasonable license in my opinion would be a per-user license, which would allow me to install it on all my machines).

      I tried the free programs. I really wanted to like them but they just didn’t provide enough to make it worthwhile to switch from the Windows Explorer. There were different types of issues I ran into (antiquated user interfaces, buggy behavior, no developer support, etc.) across the different products but I won’t go into the details here. All I can say (and it pains me to say this) is that the free programs (in their current state) aren’t worth it.

      – jeff

    • http://guti.bitacoras.com Guti

      Regarding your problem about not autorefreshing the list after deleting a file in XPlorer

      View -> Preferences -> General, and check on Automatic Refresh. Ot should solve your problem.

      In fact, this setting is disabled by default, just to get faster response times.

    • http://guti.webcindario.com Guti

      As you have said, you can access the Refresh command by pressing F5, or if you prefer, by accessing:
      View -> Refresh.

      Hope these two clarification would make XPlorer more popular.

    • bruce haack

      yo nice list
      everybody knows that explorer is the lame..for so many reasons..no dual pane, bad interface to other drives, have to configure it to not complain about looking in system32 among other things, etc etc

      i used to use turbo navigator all the time…is nice

      the latest one i use is total commander with power pack
      i think with the power pack u might rate it up to 5 star..is super sweet has so many great plugins (dvd burning, ext2 reading, builtin zip/rar/etc reading, buitlin, buitlin NFO reader (is so annoying with windows when it trys to open this file)

      anyway

      nice list and commentary
      so many sites are so obsessed with just listing..
      not to mention the repitive repetition of the same shit

      ok
      l3ft

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    • Donald Lessau

      Jonas, comment 60:

      XYplorer has various means of copying items without putting you before a frustrating “overwrite or cancel” choice. Here are some:

      Custom drag & drop context menu:
      - Copy Here with Suffix Number
      - Copy Here with Suffix Date Now
      - Copy Here with Suffix Date Modified

      Keyboard:
      - Ctrl+S: Copy Here As… (= Save Here As…)
      - Ctrl+D: Copy Here with Suffix Number
      - Ctrl+Shift+D: Copy Here with Suffix Date Modified

      The formats of “Suffix Number” (which is auto-incremented as necessary) and “Suffix Date” are individually configurable.

      Another interesting option (and, AFAIK, unique among file managers) is copying (resp. moving) files to destinations that are not hardcoded but soft-specified using *date/time variables* (output format of course fully configurable). Which means: each time you do a copy to such a soft-destination a new target folder/path is created with a name derived from the time now.
      See some examples for this here:
      http://88.191.26.34/XYwiki/index.php/Move/Copy/Backup_To#Using_Date_Variables


      Donald

    • Donald Lessau

      Mark, comment 68:
      … looking for a *group rename* function …

      XYplorer “Batch Rename” (Shift+F2) does it easily. Examples:

      http://88.191.26.34/XYwiki/index.php?title=Rename_Special#Batch_Rename…_.28Shift.2BF2.29


      Donald

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    • a_t

      DirectoryOpus. Because it lets me work MY way, not authors way, like fe. TotalCommander.

    • J Hallgren

      Neta, comment #80: About Hebrew language: I asked XYplorer author about this…reply was that it’s a limitation of the programming language that is used, so he’s unable to accomodate this.

    • Ian Britten

      A couple of others to look at:

      mtExplorer V1.1
      All rights reserved. Copyright (C) 2006 Jack Ruffey. Please send comments to jackr at http://texplorer.com/.
      mtExplorer is a minimalist multi-pane file explorer. I have tried quite a number of dual-pane and tabbed file explorers, but none of them could give me 4 to 6 mxplorer panes simultaneously in a single window.

      EasyExplorer file manager:
      Easy Explorer is a FREE file manager for Windows. Easy to use and packed with useful features. It is based on the first release of FileQuest, and is completely FREE. http://www.piquest.com/

      Ian Britten

    • D

      Please include Magellan Explorer
      http://www.enriva.com/

      and WinBrowser

      http://www.winbrowser.com/

    • Dreamer

      XPlorer2 3 starts???????

      You should try it again.
      The best

    • o robinson

      I hate to sound a sour note, but one feature got real short shrift in this review: program thumbnail capabilities.

      There is a real need for thumbnail capability in file manager programs, in large part because image and thumbnail programs are crappy file programs, lacking features like dual panes and explorer key navigation. Faststone is an egregious example of a good viewer but in which you can’t go up a directory with the keyboard but have to use the mouse.

      Potential users need to know the following about thumbnail capabilities.

      1. Can you turn off the display of file names to get more thumbnails on the screen? For image work, file names are usually superfluous to useless.

      2. Does the program build a thumbnail data base to avoid rebuilding them every time you browse a directory?

      3. If the program creates a data base is it one data base or one for each directory?

      4. Can you quickly change the size of displayed thumbnails? Quickly, that is, without rebuilding a entire data base?

      5. Does it use its own viewer or system defaults? I want to use my own viewer. I don’t need more viewers.

      6. Can you set the size of the borders to zero to maximize the number of thumbnails on the screen at one time? Image users need to view as many images as possible at once. They want screen space used for thumbnails, not aesthetic white space. With the exception of Xplorer2, none of the file manager program authors I know of seems to understand this.

      7. Does it draw the images on the screen as you scroll to them, so you get a annoying delay everything you key page down. Xplorer2 does this.

    • o robinson

      One other question always needed to be asked about file manager programs: do they support the Windows system default colors?

      I have known of some that hard coded some black text in to the program, rather than using the Windows text color. That results in unreadable black on black when using a black background Windows color scheme

    • forum

      Hi, I enjoyed your review very much, thanks :o ) The included screenshots are great to quickly preview the different programs.

      After trying most of the _free_ Windows Explorer replacements listed here, 3 standed out for me : ExplorerXP, which has good features but also flaws and seems to be no longer updated ; CubicExplorer, which is pretty good but also unstable ; and Xplorer² Lite, which is nearly perfect (for my tastes) and that I’m now using instead of the Windows Explorer.

    • Fernando

      AccelMan is a multi-window file manager incorporating a file viewer, GUI console, media player, and bookmarks manager. In AccelMan you are not restricted to an obsolete dual-pane file manager interface – you can open as many managers as you wish and freely organize your environment on the AccelMan desktop. AccelMan is a unique multipurpose application. You can use it as a regular file manager, ACDSee-style image viewer, bookmark management tool, play-list editor, media player, functional GUI console, multi-file processor, archiver with support of 15+ formats, PDF and MS Office documents manager, hexadecimal editor and a lot more besides in one seamless, ergonomic environment.

      http://www.flexigensoft.com/accelman

    • http://www.zoned.dk Henrik

      Your rating system is all wrong.
      Total Commander should get 10 stars in this system :)

      Been using it since it was the original Norton Commander. Still use the same colors as back then.

    • Mark M Janecki

      Turbo Navigator free but site has gone away but still relatively easy to find

    • NIck

      Henrik, comment 99:
      Total Commander has nothing to do with Norton/Symantec, it was called Windows Commander. I agree it’s the best filemanager ever, and 7.0 beta with new features is released recently

    • Amjad

      A valuable contribution by this comparative review of Windows File Managers. Also because it continues to develop.

      Suggest the addition of AccelMan File manager (http://www.flexigensoft.com/accelman) to the review.

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    • http://www.xyplorer.com/ Donald Lessau

      Little update on XYplorer:

      The trial period has been extended to 30 days, and there’s an Xmas related price discount of 25% through December, so the license now costs only EUR 22.50 (USD 29.50, GBP 15.50)!

    • Jan

      I was surprised to see that there is no file browser with undo/redo listed in its features. Accidentally deleting or moving files/folders could cause problems.

    • http://www.xyplorer.com/ Donald Lessau

      Undo/Redo is #2 on XYplorer’s development roadmap, right after Customizable Keyboard Shortcuts.

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    • Leland Whitlock

      You should also check out Gyula’s Navigator which you can find at http://www.wanari.com/. It free for personal or non-profit use, or $20 for 5 licenses. It’s another Norton Commander clone. As for the reviews I agree whole heartedly on Directory Opus it’s my favorite. Of course I’ve been using it since my Amiga days. I would not be without it. My only hope is eventually to get a fully portable version. For now XYplorer is my portable Explorer. Thanks for the great review.

    • http://www.soulhealing.com Hank Friedman

      Version 4 of File Commander, mentioned above, available at:

      http://www.godlikesoft.de/

      and supports 4 view panes, is free, and is very effective at working with multiple folders at once.

      Don’t get version 5 yet, however, as it is still buggy and in development.

    • A.Schubach

      what about http://www.idoswin.de/idosfree.htm
      besides the nag-screen, worth looking on.

    • WA__

      Warm greetings! Thanks for all the information, a very nice and well done site! Cheers.

    • fdb

      Again Total Commander kiss ass.

      I think this is the only one in the list that doesnt need windows dll to achieve its goal. I mean It can work even on a broken windows.

      In few words, no windows dependencies.

    • o robinson

      I just downloaded and installed xnview 1.9.

      http://www.xnview.com

      It address and fixes a number of problems I wrote about before involving the “photo explorer” segment for viewing and maintaing photograph collections.

      I think this release will put xnview at the head of that space.

    • Minneapolis

      Nice site and fine content

    • questions

      Play this site, really appreciate it.

    • martin

      Hi, Thanks for all the recommondations.
      I have been using Total commander for years, and find it excellent. Before that it was Far Manager, which I was also very impressed with.
      But I’ll be checking out some of the other ones mentioned here.
      Thanks again.
      M

    • Louisiana

      In Zeiten von massenhaft Websitenmüll im Internet eine sehr gut aufgebaute Website, nicht überdimensioniertes Design und sehr gut recher-schierte Hintergrundinformationen.

    • http://www.soulhealing.com Hank Friedman

      File Commander version 5 has been polished and has an amazing feature set. It is freeware and you can view four panes simultaneously.

      Definitely worth exploring.

      Get it at:

      http://www.godlikesoft.de/

    • Dave M

      Tired of waiting for Windows Explorer to copy large files and folders, especially from DVD to disc, all I want is a quicker way of doing this one task. Before I plod through all the alternatives here, can anyone advise which of these programs can do this?

    • http://www.schubach.info A.Schubach

      >>120: Tired of waiting …can do this?

    • http://www.schubach.info A.Schubach

      >>120: Tired of waiting …can do this?…
      try killcopy, which is not an explorer-replacement but a copy/move-handler (look at the links on my website http://www.schubach.info/Links/Links01.htm )
      (sorry for the broken posting #121)

    • V Kumar

      Is there not a single utility here to create a “virtual folder” which will span multiple HDDs? For example I have a Movies folder on 3 of my hard drives in the system. I want to keep just one folder which shows and handles the contents of all folders (without using RAID hard drive spanning). Is there not a single replacement here to do that?

    • CT__

      Finding your websight was like finding a needle in a haystack.

    • MI__

      best site of its kind :-)

    • american express

      Hello, What a beautiful and awesome site. I adore what you’ve done with your setup and graphics. Thanks you so much.

    • http://kWeb.wordpress.com/ Kevinin

      Wow, that is quite the detailled list, you wrote!

    • stef

      hi all, I use xplorer2 and it rocks. i’ve tried other file managers but what I like more about xplorer2 is that is very smartly designed. it’s the small things that matter to me, like tabs placed on top, easy access to system folders and grid lines. What I don’t like about other programs: huge list of useless features even for a power user like me, colorful skins and icons that make things more complicated or complicated preview features that nobody use (slow down system A LOT)

      I definitively recommend xplorer2.

      Stef

    • Cricri

      Another vote for Total Commander here.
      What I like above many other alternatives: it’s small, fast, portable and clean.
      In addition, it’s is highly customisable. Out of the box, TC is just good. But once you installed useful plugins and customised the interface and views to your tastes, it does absolutly everything I can think of, plus a lot more I can’t even think of.
      Another thing about TC is that it is rock stable. I keep seeing how bugs are fixed in the history, but I never came across a bug myself. I can’t say the same thing about most of the alternatives I tried.
      I’d also like to give a word about Directory Opus. Yes, in terms of functionality, it is excellent. But it is very expensive, and most importantly, it is embedding itself all over my system without leaving me enough chances to control it. The scattering of files and registry files that it provokes makes it unacceptable in my opinion.
      To summarise:
      * Directory Opus is a definite no in my book, besides the prohibitive price. I can see why some people love it though.
      * If you are going to pay for an explorer, get Total Commander. In terms of value for money, nothing compares to it.
      * If you do not wish to invest money in an explorer, I’d definitly suggest you give a try to Free Commander. Clearly, it’s nowhere as good as Total Commander, but in the freebie category, it is the current leader as far as I am concerned.

    • Cricri

      Sorry about the typos! Also I wanted to add that the version of Total Commander for Pocket PC is free! It is not as good as commercial alternatives such as Resco Explorer, but it is the best free explorer for Pocket PC I came across. It is also small, portable (one file to copy) and much better than the built in explorer (but then the latter is pathetic anyway).

    • http://ronsens.de roland

      Also Freeware and probably a rebuild / clone / rip / whatever of Total Commander: Unreal Commander

      http://x-diesel.com/

      (has also FTP support!)

      Best,

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    • http://www.ztree.com Sipho

      Well, I just can’t believe you left out Ztree. It has the deepest roots (goes back to Xtree under DOS). I use it a lot to generate batch files. One of its best features is its ability to present a “flattened” view of any subtree.

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    • http://spookcentral.cjb.net Spook Central: The Ghostbusters Companion

      Drag And File
      ftp://ftp.canyonsw.com/pub/canyonsw/df95.exe
      Ver. 4.54g (1.4 Mb)
      The BEST damn file manager around. Kicks File Manager’s and Windows Explorer’s butts! Among its many features is that it’s also an FTP program. What it can do that most other explorer replacements can’t do is give a “dual pane horizontal” (technically a quad-pane horizontal) interface ala the old Windows 3.1 File Manager. The only negative is that it is not freeware. I really wish that I could find a freeware replacement for it, preferably one that is still being updated. The program works wonderfully on Windows 95/98/ME/2000/XP. It even worked great in XP x64, but it couldn’t see some system folders that Windows Explorer could. Since it wasn’t the only program that couldn’t see them, I think this is a conflict between a 32-bit app and the 64-bit OS than a fault of the program.

      NOTE: The program is now called PowerFile (http://www.canyonsw.com/pnf.htm) and has gotten a bit bloated. Plus they removed one of the most useful features: Quick FTP Upload. So I still use Drag And File, and it looks like I will for quite some time.

    • http://spookcentral.cjb.net Spook Central: The Ghostbusters Companion

      Another negative to PowerFile is that it hasn’t been updated since 2005.

    • http://www.xyplorer.com/ Donald Lessau

      XYplorer 6.40 is out.

      http://www.xyplorer.com/whatsnew.htm

      Price for Standard License went down to US$ 24.95!

    • http://trebinjedanas.com/forumtrebinje steve

      Great review.Thnx.It will be useful to me.

    • tbutts

      Anyone know if there is a Windows Explorer type application that will:

      When you select files (with similar name), it will create a directory based on the similar names (or you can change it to what you want) and move them files into that newly created directory?

      Thanks!

    • LINA

      Can i preview my own porn picture with every tool? nice!!!!

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    • http://www.pretentiousname.com Leo Davidson

      I’d like to respond to this comment:

      “I’d also like to give a word about Directory Opus. Yes, in terms of functionality, it is excellent. But it is very expensive, and most importantly, it is embedding itself all over my system without leaving me enough chances to control it. The scattering of files and registry files that it provokes makes it unacceptable in my opinion.”

      Opus gives full control about what (if anything) it embeds itself into, which is basically context menus and double-clicks on folders (plus a couple of other things, all optional).

      All of Opus’s settings are stored in XML files (with one or two exceptions) in the two locations that all Windows applications are supposed to use: Your personal settings are in your user profile while machine-specific settings are in ProgramData (on Vista; the dir is called something else on XP but I forget; it’s a standard location for settings, either way). I’m not sure what the commenter meant by suggesting that Opus makes a mess of your system without asking but it’s simply not true.

      (I don’t write Opus but I am a big fan of it.)

      If anyone wants to learn more about Opus a good place to start is the two guides I have written here:

      http://www.pretentiousname.com/opus/index.html
      (covers Opus 8)

      and here:

      http://nudel.dopus.com/opus9 (covers some of what’s new in Opus 9)

      Since writing a lot of new features have been added, too. A native 64-bit version is also about to be released.

    • CyberShadow

      FAR Manager is now free and open-source.

      http://farmanager.com/opensource.php

    • http://www.xyplorer.com/ Donald Lessau

      The version of XYplorer reviewed on this page is now available as freeware!

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    • Paul Montgomery

      explorer2 also has a free “lite” version

    • Matias Nino

      If you want ROCK SOLID stability and SPEED, go with Altap/Servant Salamander.

      If you use Vista/Server08, Salamander is a MUST for file transfer.

      Compare the transfer of a large file over your network between Vista and Salamander and your jaw will drop at the difference in Transfer Speed, Update speed, and Time Left accuracy.

    • JohnC

      Lets not forget the blazing… slow speed of ExplorerXP. Apparently I’m not the only one suffering from this problem with ExplorerXP.
      Many more have reported that ExplorerXP takes anywhere from 6-25 seconds to start, hogs memory (50MB) and responds to mouse clicks like molasses in winter.

      Has anyone tried Baxbex’s Folderbox? Google it. I now use it and its a wonderful, free plug-in into Windows Explorer.

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    • Adrunodro

      ExplorerXP is freeware???

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    • Jim

      Here’s my problem. My hard drive has issues. Sometimes when I want to transfer a large folder, I get an error message during the transfer “Cyclic redundancy check”. The problem is that it cancels the whole scan, so I have to start all over again. This is the only thing I really hate about Windows Explorer. Is there a way to stop the transfer from getting canceled each time? I know there is a program that will transfer the files and notify you afterwards if there were any errors. Anyone know the name?

    • http://dunno.com cool

      best replacement?
      just use xplorer2 ,. you wont regret, i mean it..!!
      try the free version one, u’ll be amazed how quick response it has.
      the tools for the pro , is absolutely amazing,
      no file manager can beat it, even total commander…!!!
      100% best file manager.

      read the help file for the pro version, damn..!! great file manager ever..!!

      second one is cubic explorer,tough it slow in progress to final version, its free one, best number 2..!!

    • http://mail.pt Paulo

      XPlorer comes packed with a Trojan. I tried both the Setup file and the Zip and both have virus.

    • http://bark.fr F.Lavoux

      Intéressant ce billet ! ;) en passsant je tenais à te dure que le design du blog est tout articulièrement réusssi ;)

    • max

      A43 doesn’t have a Undo function. And considering that, like Windows Explorer, it allows you to drag & drop without any confirmation, Undo is an absolute necessity unless you want to spend hours trying to figure out what you accidentally dragged somewhere it doesn’t belong. Other than that, I love it.

    • Rex Eightyfour

      [] Powerdesk (Free) Does it all BEST I HAVE USED:
      http://www.snapfiles.com/reviews/powerdesk/powerdeskfree.html

      Must Have!! :-)

    • http://www.schubach.info A.Schubach

      The ultimate choice: Q-Dir:
      http://www.softwareok.com/?seite=Freeware/Q-Dir&language=english
      It does what it should: It’s just a multiple-frame (1-4 horizontable or vertical, multi-tree) , file-type-colored (configurable) and very lean filer.
      Upx-compressed it’s less than 200k and fully portable (If you like, I can send this version to you). There’s also a version for 9x (non-unicode) available. It’s definitely the best filemanager I’ve seen ’til now.
      O.K.: There are no extra features like notepad or things integrated, but that’s what I understand under lean: I’d like to choose my notepad free and my filer free and there’s no need of bundling cats and dogs to a multi-mega-egg-laying-and-milk-giving-wool-swine. Try it and judge yourself: The author writes: “Once Q-Dir, always Q-Dir ;) !” Til now, I agree!

    • E. MacMillan

      If you haven’t seen XYplorer’s “MiniTree” you haven’t seen clever file management. WOW! Do yourself a favour…

    • unifex

      Anything that is not 64-bit is becoming outdated very fast. In particular, there are some files/directories on 64-bit Windows which are inaccessible to 32-bit applications. This leaves only SpeedCommander and xplorer2 – it seems that only those two have a native 64-bit support. I tried xplorer2 and I found that interface aside, when I need to copy files, using stock explorer is slightly faster.

    • David

      I’m looking for a program that can recolor file names. I do know that the only way for colored names is to compress files via file clean up or encrypt files. Since I’m not going to do either (and thus make my files unusable), does any of these do this? I didn’t see any features expressed on this page saying so.

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    • http://nothing.com Xplo

      I use the free edition of Xplorer² for quite a while now.
      Tried about 10 different Explorers myself. It has the most convenient way to manage the files. Dual Pane and easy to use. I love it! Never found another one which is that clean and useful! Thinking about getting the pro version… :-)

    • omendez

      Thanks for the effort you’ve out in making this review, a lot of people like me have to struggle by trial and error, lest somebody tries first ;-)

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    • steve

      power desk pro is rubbish

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    • http://www.ninc.at charisti

      i want to ad some info, xplorer doesn’t show deleted files if you enable “automatic refresh” in preferences.

      thanks for the review

    • http://sector-seven.net Danny

      Hey,

      Excellent excellent post.
      To me it was important to find a portable one that has some accessibility features – such as font size and background color.
      A43 is the one – thanks for mentioning the “no installation” bit.

      Thanks a lot.

    • http://www.xyplorer.com/ Don

      XYplorer 8.00, the Dual Pane Edition, will be officially released on Monday, 15-June-2009.

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    • http://www.dscomic.com Rob

      Some very handy info. Explorer is so unbelievably slow for me, I’m game to try some alternatives.

    • Rafael

      Nice info. I’m interested in browsing through network files, from computers half word away – the company I work for has offices in Brazil, UK and US, and is very common to dig through files in the UK from Brazil, for example. So the huge lag of windows explorer, if it doesn’t blocks the whole OS, is almost unfeasible. I tested total commander, ultraexplorer for network file browser and they are quite disapointing. Total Commander is even slower than windows explorer when accessing big directory structures – I guess it tries to read each folder details. UltraExplorer also presents a similar behaviour and halts as much as windows explorer. I found good results using Salamander and even better results using FAR. Salamander still presents delays but for sure is less than explorer, whilst this delay is minimum using FAR. Of course a delay will aways occur since the files are remote, but I’m comparing with the results I get when using a command prompt in mapped drives. For now, when I need to browse remote folders, for sure I’m using FAR Manager..

    • Yiorgos

      Very useful presentation and nice discussion too! Thanks to all of you.

      One of my basic needs that Windows Explorer doesn’t meet, is to print file lists, some of them very long. Besides that scrappy Alt+PrtScn, any method I have found on the web did not work right for me (for various reasons). There are some commercial utilities for the job but they usually cost the price of a good alternative to the Windows Explorer, so I looked if I could have an “all in one” package. But I found no mention about this possibility (or the lack of it) here and I ‘m really surprised since I thought it would be a very common need. If anyone knows about it, please tell me (us).

    • L.A.G.M.

      For me the best is EF Commander. Try it at http://www.efsoftware.com

    • http://tuxproject.de tux.

      Basically, the major con of DOpus is the price. I really loved it during the trial period, but it’s just that it is expensive AND it doesn’t even have a lifetime license then…

      For now, I’ll switch between CubicExplorer and xplorer² (made them default for folders for a time)… both are great. The first is easier to use, the second is faster than Total Commander regarding any operation. Worth its price.

    • wiz

      You can add Ultra Explorer to your list.
      It is free.

    • Travis

      HELP !!!

      I’ve read and tried several programs, but just can’t find one that replaces “powerdesk”, which I have used for years. The problem is, that powerdesk can be slower than molasses, especially on folders containing more than 1,000 files.

      One of the BIG things I like about powerdesk, is their launch bar, where you can easily put an icon for any executable file.

      So my question is, I am looking for a filemanagement program that does some of the following things.

      1. display 1,000′s of files in a folder INSTANTLY.
      2. has a launch bar for executable files.
      3. doesn’t have 15 million different settings to go through if I want to set the program up… a very good example being Directory Opus 9. I have installed that program, and it does #1 and #2 very good…. BUT, every damn time i go from one folder to another, the tabs change around, and show tabs i don’t want. I have changed settings in that program until I am now starting to HATE IT!

    • Devon

      Agreed, Powerdesk was the best of all file managers I’ve tried. Wish they’d make it Windows 7 compatible.

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    • http://vestisrbija.wordpress.com/ vesti srbija

      Where I can find more article like This. I’m interested for this theme.

    • James

      XPlorer picked up as virus in Nod32!

    • Wyley Sam

      Please take a look at EF Commander at http://www.efsoftware.com/. It initially start out as a Norton Commander Clone, I’ve been using it for a very long time and I love it.

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    • anon

      almost all of them look just as ridiculously ugly as the original explorer. I’m looking for a dark windows theme… so I hope I can find a way by using a different file manager… cuz stupid windows doesn’t want to allow for dark window backgrounds and such… (excet for the classic look, which sucks)

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    • http://www.yagodequay.com Yago

      Is it just me, or they all look the same? None bring a TRULY innovative (and sexy!) ways of exploring/presenting stuff. all columns, lists, letters, files, rows, sliders, panes… BORING!

    • Larry Kroeger

      I’ve been using DirectoryOpus for over 15 years now. It was developed on the Amiga PC back in the early ’90′s. The license is good for three computers, it works fine on my 64bit Windoze7 home server, my wife’s 64bit Win7 laptop, and my old Sony vintage 2001 Pentium XP desktop. I came to this site looking for an alternative to Dopus on the new PC I just finished building. Dopus may not have a lifetime license, but it has been a couple of years since I paid for the last major upgrade, with at least 20 updates that I have downloaded and installed over the last three years at no extra charge.

    • Ron Franco

      I laugh at the notion that PowerDesk is the best Explorer alternative. Pleeeeaaaseee!!! nothing beats Directory Opus. Try viewing and browsing a media collection (pictures, videos, music in Opus and PowerDesk side by side then a user can easily realize how much far behind PowerDesk is from Directory Opus. The only thing I’ll agree to is that Opus is too expensive.

    • Michael Fox

      I’m looking for an “explorer” that will search for strings within files on a network drive. I have Word 7 files in a network drive, which Windows 7 won’t index. Any suggestions?
      Also–I would like to search for file names within folders on an external hard drive.

    • P Smith

      The makers of A43 have moved it to completely different website, with no link to it on the old one:

      http://www.alterion.us/a43/

    • Patrick

      Anything for Windows 7, 64 bit

    • Ron Franco

      @Patrick Directory Opus has x64 version for Windows 7

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    • Oscar

      primero que nada exelente su pagina,muestra alternativas muy efectivas,para los windows mencionados,pero que pasa con el windows 7 y el 8 que esta por venir?.Para los usuarios,ya lo dije,todo es exlente,sugiero actualizar si las ubieran a los windows actuales.A sus ordenes

    • http://www.recipemantra.com Ramesh

      I would not agree with these ratings. Obviously taste and preference of each one is different. I have tried older versions of Powerdesk and thought it is the best. But comparing the others, I feel directory Opus is far better than others. My rating for Directory opus * * * * *

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    • Cebrail Bağdatlı

      If you have hundreds or thousands of the same file types in the same folder, it’s a need to have a simple system to distinguish them at a single glance -or as quick as possible. Is there a file management software which allows this via colored file names or little signs, flags, etc.?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003028606549 Syob Syot

      THE BEST THING ABOUT WINDOWS EXPLORER IS THAT IT RUNS YOUR DESKTOP. WITHOUT EXPLORER STARTED YOU DO NOT HAVE ACTIVE DESKTOP, YOU DO NOT HAVE START MENU, YOU DO NOT HAVE EVEN STANDARD WAY TO TURN OFF YOUR COMPUTER. ALL OF THOSE AND MORE ARE FUNCTIONS OF WINDOWS EXPLORER. I DO NOT THINK THAT THOSE SUBSTITUTIONS REVIEWED HERE HAVE THOSE FUNCTIONS, IF THEY DO, IT WOULD BE VERY DIFFICULT FOR ME TO GET USED TO THEM.

      SO, WHAT I WANT TO SAY, IS, THAT THOSE PROGRAMS HERE ARE NOT REAL SUBSTITUTIONS FOR WINDOWS EXPLORER. THEY CAN BE USED AS ADDITIONS FOR WINDOWS EXPLORER. BECAUSE, WINDOWS EXPLORER IS STILL ACTIVE WHEN YOU USE THOSE PROGRAMS. TRY TERMINATE “EXPLORER.EXE” PROCESS IN WINDOWS TASK MANAGER, IF YOU WANT TO SEE HOW IS TO WORK WITHOUT WINDOWS EXPLORER. I USE SOME OF THESE PROGRAMS LISTED HERE, BUT I ALWAYS KEEP WINDOWS EXPLORER ACTIVE.

      I USE THEM AS AN ADDITION TO WINDOWS EXPLORER, NOT SUBSTITUTION, BECAUSE THAT IS WHAT THEY ARE. :)

    • Ivan

      There is also Desk & Archive, which is more attractive to average users, http://www.deskandarchive.com

    • Phillip Mikesell

      DID YOU KNOW THAT MY CAPS LOCK KEY IS BROKEN, LIKE YOURS???

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    • Kitsune Marasuki

      Actually you can replace explorer entirely. A simple registry key changes the shell that windows loads. Mine loads Blackbox4win instead of explorer.

    • momon

      right bro, blackbox, great and blazing fast on very low memory. for file manager I use A43.