With every new Windows update, Microsoft adds some new features and updates to the operating system, most noticeably the removal and subsequent re-addition of start and desktop. While they focus on mostly everything, the File Manager seems to be fairly ignored.
Although it has existed since Windows 95 as a Windows Shell component, apart from the name change from ‘Windows Explorer’ to the new ‘file manager’; there haven’t been many changes to the native file explorer application.
You must be familiar with the troubles that come with the native Explorer.
Looking For An Alternative Free Windows File Explorer
Transferring files is simply clumsy. Transferring files within one window is cumbersome. The quick access tries to help but fails miserably as sub-folders need to be separately accessed. To use the quicker ‘Drag and Drop’ two instances of file explorer must be open.
- There is also no pausing transfers or restarts.
- If you want to create a new folder to paste files there, you cannot create a new folder without that small menu that opens where you need to click multiple times to open the location.
- Combining these with no batch renaming, the convenience factor takes a hit.
List Of Alternatives To Windows File Manager
With so many problems listed, the need for a replacement for Windows File Explorer is imminent. I have compiled here a list of 7 free alternatives to the file managing application. Read through the list to find the best one that suits you.
muCommander is an open source free file explorer alternative that offers many features that you may appreciate once you start using it. It offers many customization options, and the file exploring is a significant upgrade over the native explorer. In 2019, it was voted the best file manager for Linux.
Upon downloading and installing from https://www.mucommander.com/ you will be asked to select the theme with quick previews available.
The interface has two identical vertical panes that house a modified tree model hierarchy of files you may be familiar with, and support for tabular viewing for both the panes.
The two panes may seem redundant, but that’s what makes this app so intuitive. The dialogue window is super easy to use and all the important functions are available at the bottom taskbar with dedicated keyboard shortcuts mentioned besides. I found to be using lesser and lesser time reaching for the mouse and using the given shortcuts more.
- There are separate commands to open a file in explorer, copy, move, rename, delete and properties all accessible with just one click.
The app can also handle absolutely anything and everything you want to tinker around with, and new features are added to the mix regularly as it is open-sourced.
If you need more than two panes ready at hand, Q-dir is an upgrade you might be interested in. Q-dir stands for quad directory manager, and you guessed it right, it displays 4 panes. The interface may not get full marks as the app is not refined, but the usability is exceptional. It looks like 4 explorer dialogues placed to make a big square.
This small (weighing in at 700KB) portable app is available for Windows 10 and below.
All the panes also have multi-tabular support, hence the quickness you have while hopping from one directory to another is extremely fast.
- Q-dir uses Vanilla explorer panes to display files and folders, so if you want an explorer app that’s similar to the one on Windows but with some extra power, this may be the app for you. There are some drawbacks to this though. Firstly there exist no keyboard shortcuts for any quick functions, so you need to click to switch for going from one pane to another. You can also not select just one file type in a directory.
3) Total Commander (Formerly Windows Commander)
This is the most famous file explorer alternative used since its early days. The power of Total commander lies in its flexibility in the app design; it is designed for making file managing better and it does so by allowing changes in shortcuts and preferences, which can be saved in an external .ini file so you can use the app how you want to. Its usability redefined.
Upon downloading and installing the client software from https://www.ghisler.com/download.htm you will be greeted with a configuration dialogue box that lets you customize your preferences. Then you will find the similar two-pane interface, both of which support tabular interface.
With Total commander, you can create and extract zip files within the app, access remote file systems, and it has a built-in FTP client. You can compare 2 files side by side based on content, and copying large files does not make the application unresponsive because of it using background processes. The developers put a lot of effort into the program and it is visible with the options provided to you.
Fman is a rather new dual pane file explorer that is targeted at keyboard-oriented users i.e. software developers. This has the simplest interface of all others in this list and has a default dark mode that makes the UI look sharp and modern.
Fman isn’t for everyone. The minimal interface comes at the cost of difficulty faced by casual and novice users in accessing even the basic functions. There are no toolbars, no ribbons, no complicated dialogue boxes or no clicking through loads of folders to reach the destination. While most apps provide power tools to the Windows Explorer, this app takes a different approach to file exploring.
Quick help:You can display the command palette by pressing Ctrl+Shift+P and use the arrow keys to select a command and press Enter to execute. Other features include Copy (F5), Move (F6), Open (Enter), Delete (Del), Rename (Shift+F6), Create folder (F7), Copy to clipboard (Ctrl+C), Copy paths to clipboard (F11), Open terminal (cmd.exe in Windows) at current folder (F9), Open native file manager (F10).
F-man can be extensively customized with the various plug-in available, that takes functionality to the next level. However the drawback is the lack of mouse support, so no right clicks or multi-select functions are available. Also, to use them regularly you need to buy a license at a steep price of €18 ($20).
This is a simple tool that brings the multi-tab function to Windows File Explorer. This is not a standalone app; rather it is a plug-in extension for the Windows Explorer that brings a new dynamic to the native file explorer.
Download from https://www.filehorse.com/download-clover/download/
The software installs in the Japanese language, but that shouldn’t cause much trouble as you can just follow the green buttons for two-step installation.
Upon installation, the native file explorer becomes tabbed just like Google Chrome. So you can have different directories open in different tabs in the same window for convenience purposes. You can also add folder bookmarks in the bookmarks bar.
Press Ctrl+D to add the current path or drag the folder into the bookmarks bar to add to it. You can press Ctrl+T to open the page, Ctrl+W to close the page and CTRL+Tab to quickly switch between pages. Not as efficient as the multi-pane option, but Clover installs as a BHO plug-in so you don’t have to learn a new software language to use this app.
5) Free Commander
This is a free alternative to the Windows file manager that keeps things simple. It doesn’t look much different from the native app, and getting to know the different parts and features of the app does not take much time. This is also a double paned interface, with both panes supporting tabs to handle many complex functions.
The main advantage of the Free commander is the seamless FTP integration. So if you host a website or need to upload large files on a regular basis, the FTP integration comes in handy a lot. You have the control to directly upload from your PC using the feature, or designate entire folders to automatically upload them to the web host.
In addition to this, you can directly compress or split files from within the app with the built-in archive handling. You can look at your files in a number of formats including hex, text, and image or binary, you can rename multiple files at once as well. With the different plug-in available, you can expand your control over the app multi-fold.
This is a free app available on the Microsoft store and has a different look than others. This is an innovative approach to file managing, and the layout needs some time to grasp. It’s available only for Windows, and you need to install the .NET framework 4.6. This should run smoothly on Windows 10.
One commander offers two types of approach to file viewing. The popular two-pane mode and a “flow style” column mode. The flow goes from left to tight as you select a folder and further. This is a new style of file managing, and very fun to use once you get used to it. Left panel gives you quick access to drives, favorites and network connectivity options.
You can easily change the theme from white to dar4k to light. Important managing features like preview, edit, rename, delete are all just a click away. The overall UI blends well with the modern WINDOWS 10 theme and is a significant improvement over the Windows 10 file explorer.
So there you have it. Here is a list of free Windows explorer alternatives that will take your usability and functionality to the next level. Did you find any of these useful? Comment below if you use any of these applications, or want to try some of these.