A Directory Of Windows Explorer Replacements

By | April 25, 2005

I’m always amazed at the inadequacy of Windows Explorer and how most users just seem to accept its limitations. The good news is that you don’t have to. Here’s a list of programs that seek to replace, one way or another, Windows Explorer (not to be confused with Internet Explorer) used not only to view directories/folders and move files around (otherwise known as file managers), but to view the contents of files without having to open them, manage photos etc. In no particular order (although I must confess I use ExplorerPlus):

  • ExplorerPlus
    The price: $40
    The blurb: This file manager offers built-in file previewing, multi-pane folder views, instant access to often visited folders, and a large collection of file, document, multimedia and picture management tools, making it easy for you to perform any file management task. Screenshot
  • PowerDesk Pro 
    The price: $50
    The blurb:  PowerDesk® Pro 6 is a simple, fast and fun way to organize and manage files, digital photos, MP3 music files and web images on your PC. It’s convenient and it saves time! In just one, two or three clicks, you can customize your PC: move, copy, zip, label, color code, search, view, prioritize, convert, and use your files the way you want to use them. Screenshot
  • Directory Opus 8 
    The price: $65
    The blurb: Powerful File Manager & Explorer Replacement Screenshots
  • A43 File Management from BG’s Home 
    The price: freeware
    The blurb: A43 is a freeware file management utility for Windows 2000/XP. Screenshot
  • ExplorerXP
    The price: freeware
    The blurb: ExplorerXP is a very fast, small, compact and innovative FREEWARE (for non – commercial use) file manager for Windows 2000/XP. Unlike the regular Windows Explorer, it displays the total size of each folder and allows you to browse multiple folders from a tabbed interface. Screenshot
  • xplorer²
    The price: $30 (there’s a free lite version, and a free earlier version, called 2xExplorer)
    The blurb: All the shell goodies from windows explorer — none of the hassle! Plus all the features you would expect from a powerful tabbed dual-pane file manager, including Omni-Finder, a find files module that simply outclasses all known search tools. Don’t take our word for it, seeing is believing! The screenshot
  • JExplorer
    The price: freeware
    The blurb: JExplorer is a dual-panel type file manager and web-browser as well. It is similar to widely used Norton Commander, WinNC, or Windows Commander. It provides many advanced features such as compressor/decompressor, FTP file transfer, POP3 mail/SPAM mail monitor, MAPI mail sender, directory comparator, and Dial-up Networking (DUN) interface. It runs under Windows 95/98/ME and Windows NT4/2K/XP. The screenshot
  • FileAnt
    The price: freeware (welcomes donations)
    The blurb: FileAnt is a Windows File Manager (like explorer) on tabs (like UltraEdit-32), it is also a cool Ftp Client (like leechftp) and has nice features such as folder pie charts, and a viewer for commonly used file formats. It loads quickly from the tray and uses very little memory to achieve what it does. The Ftp Client is multi-download (you can keep browsing while downloading lots of files). The Pie Chart features 2D telescopic browsing. Advanced tools let you modify file dates, sync folders, and change file attributes en masse. There is also a nice little mp3 player in the tray. Screenshot
  • MeeSoft Commander
    The price: freeware (welcomes donations)
    The blurb: File management utility and image viewer. The program has an effective split screen interface with two directory views or a directory view and a file viewer. The image viewer can launch MeeSoft Image Analyzer for editing images. Screenshot
  • Total Commander
    The price: $34
    The blurb: file manager for Windows® 95/98/ME/NT/2000/XP, and Windows® 3.1 Screenshot
  • Magellan Explorer
    The price: $40
    The blurb: Magellan Explorer is an advanced, yet easy to use, Windows file manager based on the powerful dual window pane concept. Previous users of the Norton Commander file manager software and similar tools will feel right at home. It can also act as a Windows Explorer replacement with a tree view on the left. Or you can enjoy a combination of both! Screenshots

I’m sure there are more out there. I’ve tried to limit this to file managers which might be suitable for the ordinary user, but I’m very open to including more. Let me know (along with any errors on pricing etc).

24 thoughts on “A Directory Of Windows Explorer Replacements

  1. Everett

    I was just looking explorer.exe (as a file manager) replacements a week ago after switching to Litestep as my shell.


  2. Roger

    As it happens I was just wanting to browse through a few folders of project files from a few months ago to find the ones that would be useful in a similar project just starting.

    The files I’ve been working with are zips and XML files in utf-8 and utf-16 or Unicode.

    Alas, Explorer Plus couldn’t show the contents of the files in Unicode. This surprises me. It’s not like Unicode or XML is new or avant-garde. XML has been in use for over seven years now. Wish they weren’t so provincial in their outlook.

  3. John Falmer

    Great list! The winner by far is Directory Opus. Much better interface than all the others.

  4. Urso

    Congratulations for this amazing list. Thanks to this links, I tried all those programs, with some idea of what to expect. I did try the ExplorerPlus, but the Directory Opus is better. It uses the same idea of the ExplorerPlus, but expanded it to use tabs as well. It is really efficient. The others are quite similar, some with limitations I could not accept, others a little different of what I wanted. My list would be Directory Opus, below would be ExplorerPlus, then would come Maggellan Explorer, xplorer2, ExplorerXP, File Ant, and the others, all at the same level. Great list, with great informations. Congratulations to the author! You did save me some search time!

  5. Richard Campbell

    Would any of these allow me to produce a report that showed access permissions for each directory on a Win2003 server?

  6. Doug Wiken

    Good list. I was looking last night for a dual directory file manager for an older friend. I found 2xplorer, and it seems to work, but the small icons pretty well make it unusable for older folks with poor vision. I have used a shareware version of Kent Brigg’s File Maven for an embarassingly long time without buying it. I found it as a replacment for the Stereo program I used back in DOS days. Unfortunately that tiny machine language program never made it to Windows use.

    I will have to try out the latest version of File Maven on friends new computer even if he must buy it to use it.

  7. Chris

    Does any of these Explorer type programs have scripting capability? I need functionality where I can import directory contents into an MS Access database for further analysis.


  8. eric

    how about file copy/move? Who’s the best? I especially interested with any file management software that can queue copy/move command

  9. Gothmog

    I really like ‘Servant Salamander’ which was omitted in this list- it has some really useful features and some very powerful plugins. I’ve been using it for 7 years now- you can download a non-crippled beta right now is you like at http://www.altap.cz/salam_en/index.html

    Just my $0.02!

    Oh and Eric- it WILL queue copy/move

  10. frustrated

    None of the suggested that I tried supports Unicode.

    This is so frustrating. Windows supports Unicode since 10 years.

    Could you please make a new list stating which file explorer has Unicode capabilities? It’s just hard to find one.

  11. Critofur

    Hi, I had come accross one web page months ago with a cool looking Explorer replacement which supported plug-ins, and there was a plug in which would “auto fill” multi-box password forms where you can’t just paste all at once, but you have to paste/type individually into each box. But sadly, I lost the name of that and the web page 🙁 Can anyone help me find it again?

  12. Bowen

    Merging two folder using Move in Win. Exp. only allows “replace of duplicate files”. I’m looking for a way to “Bypass moving of duplicate files”. All the file managers I’ve tried just mimic W.E.’s limitaion. Anyone know a solution? If so please email me junk2063@hotmail thanks.

  13. Danila Medvedev

    There is a great file manager called FAR. Since version 1.80 this excellent program is open source (BSD license) and free. http://farmanager.com/opensource.php?l=en

    FAR is a two-pane file manager that uses a Windows console for that retro look (looks like Norton Commander from DOS days). But let that not fool you, the program is as powerful and advanced (and more) as Total Commander or any other file manager for Windows. To me the console look is a plus anyway.

    There are many additional plugins that expand the functionality of FAR.

  14. Mike Williams


    I have been using the FileQuest file explorer from Piquest Software. FileQuest allows me to open multiple windows, has built in reports, file previewer, automated tasks, and file splitting. You can find it here if you want to take a look at it http://www.piquest.com/pq_filequest.html


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.