Windows optimize

Replace Windows Explorer with a free, feature-rich file manager

Bill Detwiler examines five free file managers that might make IT pros and power users dump Windows Explorer.

The average Windows user would probably never consider using a file manager other than the one built into the operating system--Windows Explorer. But, TR Dojo viewers aren't average Windows users. They like to optimize, customize, and just plain tinker with their computers, especially the operating system. Well, during this TR Dojo episode, I discuss five, free file managers that you can use instead:

For those who prefer text to video, click the View Transcript link below the video player window or check out Jack Wallen's article, "Five free replacements for Windows Explorer," on which this video is based. You can also sign up to receive the latest TR Dojo lessons through one or more of the following methods:

About

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

35 comments
kironkasbekar
kironkasbekar

Hi Bill. You may wish to try out Organyze 2.1, which we have recently launched. Organyze is a desktop-based software package that does not ask users to replace Windows Explorer (people have got so used to using it) but enhances the power of Windows, helps you organize all your content (all formats), and makes finding files very, very easy. The package includes a quick search and more advanced and nuanced ways of searching, all very easy to use. You can use Organyze to bookmark, label and add comments to files, folders and emails in MS Outlook. Use it in MS Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and MS Outlook), Windows Explorer and Internet Explorer. You can attach multiple tags to many files simultaneously, making tagging very easy. In IE, you can use Organyze to attach tags (bookmarks, multiple labels and comments) to html pages while you are saving them in your machine! You can even select a part of the content of a page and save only that with the tags! Get single flat lists of files from multiple locations in different folders, drives and machines to make housekeeping easy; and see details like labels and comments without opening files. Organyze also helps you find duplicate files in your machine, even when the file names are different. See more details at www.organyze.com. You can see a demo, read the User's Guide, and also get a free trial copy. An enterprise edition is also available (details will be up on the website by the second week of December).

microface
microface

UltrExplorer has some really nice features i like in a tabbed file browser. I can set up favorites, the right click menu acts the same as in FileExplorer, which Cubic Explorer has a problem with, and like in Win7, I can open a cmd window right there where i am looking.

biancor
biancor

As a Sysadmin & server admin one of the important things I look for in a file manager is to easily see the total size of files contained in a folder. Does anyone have experience with these 5 to offer an opinion on which does this best.

firstaborean
firstaborean

Some time back, I used a free version of Avanquest's Power Desk. As it was trialware, it couldn't be transferred, so I went ahead and bought it. It's a real toolbox, and it normally works in two-pane mode. It's sort of what the old Norton Commander might have been, had it been written for modern Windows instead of old DOS. Viewers, compression, ftp client, and, of course, file management.

Madsmaddad
Madsmaddad

It's free and comes as part of Kubuntu. Especially the split panes aspect. Ah, all these tools are for Microsoft Operating systems! Oh, Dear.

Rodo1
Rodo1

When it comes to tools, I just can't resist. I downloaded 3 of the 5 to evaluate/play with. At first glance they look like nice tools and the price is right!

andmark
andmark

Great article Bill, thank you for the info and the giggle at the end. Is it your accent or are you mispronouncing the name to leave off the final R on Explorer? It sounds like Explore but of course no TR Ninja would make THAT mistake. My Aussie accent would sound comical to you but you would clearly hear 'Explorah' around the Melbourne offices. Keep up the great work and dont forget to include the blooper reels. Can you take us behind the green screen someday around the office there? Fly throughs of the workstations, tech toys and wildlife at the office could reveal some interesting TR Ninja characteristics.

JE55E
JE55E

1. Most of the noises you reference in your videos don't actually come through on the mic. 2. More than any of the other videos I've seen, your accent did come through quite a bit this time. :)

konservativ
konservativ

Strange Microsoft hasn't picked up the dual panel and other qualities of this old dos-program, but left that to Windows-versions of it like WindowsCommander.

cpshooter
cpshooter

"...and make them bow down!". Bill I needed a good laugh today. Thanks.

Regulus
Regulus

(FWIW)(IMHO) Windows Explorer has been an increasingly disappointing (Are you listening, Microsoft?) facet of Windows Vista up to and including Win 8 Dev. Any time I have a chance to input to MS, I ask for a 'Switch' so that one can go back and forth between Airhead and Tech Mode as you can (a little bit) in the Control Panel. Just one of the many reasons I find myself more frequently using a Linux product.

winn.horoba
winn.horoba

I could not get the video to play on 3 Browsers Firefox 8, explorer 9, & Google

neighborvl
neighborvl

Over the years I have tried almost everything out there and I discovered that Free Commander EX has more capability and customization than everything else put together. Note, there is a standard version and an experimental version(EX) and both are free. I use the EX version by choice because it has a few extra capabilities that I use every day. The downside is that updates are far between, but given the capability it currently has that is not a problem for me. I can not understand why FC doesn't show up in these comparison articles more often. In my opinion whoever put this code together is on the bleeding edge. Experimental Version is here > http://www.freecommander.com/fc_beta_en.htm BTW, I would pay good $ to have free Commander available in Linux. Give it a shot if file management is important to you!

gunnarh
gunnarh

Agree fully with Isadowski

michaelv
michaelv

I tried FireFox 8 and IE8 under Win7 - no go.

randall.cohen
randall.cohen

There are 5 explorer options previewed in the video not 4 as indicated in the video (see 4. Q-Dir). Sorry, I just had to point that out, my pocket protector made me do it.

jmfgd
jmfgd

TotalCommander rocks!

giftmugs
giftmugs

Another excellent Windows Explorer Alternative is: "Directory Opus" that works wonders for me.

tnconsult
tnconsult

Check out TreeSize Free. Works great for me.

Rodo1
Rodo1

However, when they went from version 7 to 8 it seems to have picked up a lot of bloat. Typical these days in all software, including operating systems.

noahsombrero
noahsombrero

It is hard to find free software that is up to professional demands. None of the 5 are for me. Why should we expect excellence to be free? Do you work for free? Agreed TotalCommander is probably the best at the level of technical perfection. And Directory Opus is the final solution but too expensive. I need a file manager that does SFTP, and I have found only one: Altap Salamander. It also does everything else reasonably well, so that is the one I use. Except when I need to connect to an un Windows friendly OS like Apple. Then use another little known gem, Frigate. It can connect to most anything and allow access to files. And lately I need a 64 bit file manager. For that I use TotalCommander. Like in other software genres, it seems difficult to find one product that does everything well.

kchimwanda
kchimwanda

I am using Chrome 15. I have already installed Explorer++, works great. Thanks

l_e_cox
l_e_cox

I've been working with a two-pane paradigm since the days of Stereo Shell. That's the main thing Free Commander gives me, but I also like its rename functionality.

kchimwanda
kchimwanda

There must be some problem IT Ninja. We want this video playing!!!!

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

For those using a Mac, the video will play in Safari. If I had to guess, there is an issue with a pre-roll ad that preventing the video from playing. I've filed a bug with our engineering group to fix it. Sorry for the inconvenience. This video actually have a funny blooper at the end.

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

The video worked fine yesterday, but it's not playing now. In fact, no TR videos are playing. I'll alert everyone when the problem is fixed.

tsadowski
tsadowski

Something goofed with the video, won't play.

lord_beavis
lord_beavis

It's a minor thing, but makes a big impression on professionalism.

bernardmorey
bernardmorey

Totalcommander costs. This article is about free programs.

Cynyster
Cynyster

Yes it is not free. It is not even inexpensive. For an IT Manager, it is irreplaceable! The amount of features & customizability I simply cannot live without it. If you do hard core file organization, moving, sorting, renaming, searching, the amount of time you save with this tool is astounding

lord_beavis
lord_beavis

With lord_beavis as a screen name...

evaughn
evaughn

16.10.11 Fixed: The nag screen (unregistered version) wasn't translated (64) http://www.ghisler.com/history80.txt You just have a nag screen until you pay and register.. so you could use free indefinitely. but it is the best and well worth the fee.