A File Manager provides a convienient way for the end users to work with file systems and perform various operations on files and folders such as create, edit, rename, copy, delete, modify file attributes, compare folders etc. While Windows Explorer provides a fair amount of simple file management activities, a dedicated file manager helps you to keep things unsophisticated and gives you various tools out of the box to manage a large number of files at a time. File managers gives you faster and easier management of files and folders on your PC.
The various special features that I'm looking forward to in a file manager are Dual panes, Tabbed interface, Bookmarks, History, Archive handling, Advanced File Search, MultiRename, Folder Size Enumeration, Folder Compare & Synchronize, FTP support, File viewer, File sorting, File splitter, Filtered view, Keyboard shortcuts, Easy access to system folders and more.
So here're the top 5 products that I found after months of testing, that combines the best of interface, features and customizability among all the file managers out there. Since these top 5 products include most of these features mentioned in the introduction, I won't go in detail about them in each review.
[Doakio Editor's Note: This article was restored from Gizmo's Freeware archives as a service to the freeware community. Gizmo's Freeware provided high-quality, volunteer freeware reviews for decades. They shut down in July of 2021.]
FreeCommander XE An elegant and user friendly file manager with a huge set of features, powerful searching function and great customization.
Unreal Commander A file manager comes close to the look and feel of Total Commander with a powerful filter system.
Nomad.NET A portable and powerful file manager written using .NET technology with a simplified and clean user interface.
Multi Commander A great file manager with a vast array of features in its arsenal for power users.
Master Commander A portable, no frills, simple yet advanced file manager for daily use.
More File Managers
Although the best are listed above, it doesn't hurt to know more options out there, if you aren't satisfied with the any of the above.
- Modern interface – Probably the most modern and sytlish interface that I've seen.
- Work Folder – If you set a folder as an work folder. you can go to that folder with shortcut key right away. Also copy/move/extract files/folders to an work folder with only two step keyboard shortcut.
- Innovative Folder Tree – The hierarchial represeting let's you see all the sub-contents at a glance.
- Colors – You can customize colors for file listings and folder free. Different colors for various file types lets you to easily distinguish files at a glance.
- Advanced Built-in text editor – One of the best text editors I've seen, with syntax highlighting.
- Shortcut menus for USB flash drives – Makes starting applications very easy right from your USB drive.
- Portable – No installation or uninstallation required.
- Linux styled interface may not please everyone.
- Multifunctional address bar – Specifying folder names and visual filters and for running windows applications.
- Autocompletion – Paths and other frequently typed information.
- Dockable Thumbnail bar – To preview images, html and office applications.
- No hotkey cusomization and uses windows search.
- Free version limited. See feature comparison
- Ribbon sytled tabbed explorer for Win 7 & 8
- Drive usage analysis chart
- Conditional selecting – filtering, searching, selecting.
- Is just an enhancement to the Windows 8 explorer
R.I.P File Managers
These file managers were once great, but are no longer developed. They continue to work on latest versions of Windows, but won't be featured in the main review.
- UltraExplorer (Last Update: Jul 27 '09)
These file managers were tested but falls short in features and overall usability. They are either too simple or too restricted in features for daily use.
- EFCommander Free (No longer featured on home site.)
- Just Manager (Not yet out of alpha stage, but a promising new file manager.)
- Proto (Claims to be the fastest, but not really a file manager)
- Saladin (Too simple, not really a choice)
- SE-Explorer (project dead)
- Turbo Navigator (project dead)
To Be Reviewed:
These File Mangers were brought up in the user comments section. I'm currently reviewing them or have finished reviewing and waiting to be listed in the main article during the next review update. Please be patient.
File managers that were written as 32-bit applications will generally work on 64-bit Windows, but functionality will be limited in two ways:
- Shell extensions (i.e., file context menu entries) of 64 bit applications won't appear in a 32 bit file manager.
- 32-bit file managers will not be able to access the “system32” directory of a 64 bit Windows installation, they will be deflected to the “sysWOW64” directory instead.
- 32-bit programs have not full access to the control panel.
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