15 Windows Explorer alternatives compared and reviewed

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.

Note: this has been updated to be a bit more current for 2020. Links have been fixed and in some cases removed, as a few of these are no longer available.

If I haven’t included your favourite 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.

NameCostTrial?Rating (x/5)
A43freen/a***½
Ac Browser Plus$21.00yes**
CubicExplorerfreen/a***
Directory OpusAUD $85.00yes (30 days)****
ExplorerXPfreen/a***
Far Manager$25.00yes (40 days)***½
FileMatrix24.00yes***
freeCommanderfreen/a***½
PowerDesk Pro/Standard$39.95/freen/a**¾
Servant Salamander (2.5)$30yes (30 days)****
SpeedCommander37.95yes (60 days)***
Total Commander$34yes (30 days)****
XPlorerfreen/a***½
xplorer²19.95yes (21 days)***
XYplorer29.95yes (21 days)****

A43

Requirements: Windows 2000, Windows XP
Download: NO LONGER AVAILABLE
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.
  • Favourite 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: NO LONGER AVAILABLE
    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)
    NO LONGER AVAILABLE
    Homepage: NO LONGER AVAILABLE
    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.
  • Multi 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 extensions 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: https://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: https://freecommander.com/en/downloads/
    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
    Homepage and Download: 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

    Requirements: Windows 95, 98, ME, NT 4, 2000, or XP
    Homepage and Download: https://www.altap.cz/salamander/downloads/

    Features:

    This is a list of the main features for version 2.5 RC1.

  • Better Wildcard Selecting Files And Directories Against Windows Explorer
  • Calculate Occupied Space: Disk Space Usage Analyzer
  • 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 Analyzer
  • 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
    Homepage: https://www.speedproject.de/

    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: https://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

    Requirements: Windows 95, 98, ME, NT 4.0, 2000, XP, 2003 or Vista
    Download: NO LONGER AVAILABLE
    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: https://www.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
    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 hide-able 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.
  • 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 slightly 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

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


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    Home » Windows » 15 Windows Explorer alternatives compared and reviewed

    34 thoughts on “15 Windows Explorer alternatives compared and reviewed”

    1. 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 * * * * *

    2. 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.

    3. 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!

    4. 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.

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

    6. 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 ;-)

    7. 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… :-)

    8. 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.

    9. 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.

    10. 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?

    11. 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!

    12. 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?

    13. 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

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

    15. 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.

    16. 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.

    17. 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.

    18. 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

    19. 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 :-)

    20. 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!

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

    22. 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 :§)

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

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