Free File Managers and Graphical Shells

File commanders, GUI shells, Windows Explorer replacements

Free File Managers and Graphical Shells

The free file managers listed on this page can be used instead of the default shell provided with your operating system. For example, on Windows, you can use them in place of Windows Explorer.

The file managers, sometimes called file commanders, GUI shells or the like, usually provide features that are more convenient and efficient to use than the default one on the system. For example, if you use Windows, you may be familiar with how irritating it can be when trying to copy a file from one folder to another. First you open a window, and navigate to the first folder. Then you open another window to navigate to the destination folder. The second window, more often than not, opens only slightly to one side of the original one, forcing you to have to drag it to one side so that you can see the first one. If you have to copy files with any regularity, this poor usability quickly gets on your nerves. Many of the free file managers below provide dual panels (or more), where you can have two (or more) folders open side by side, facilitating common operations like copying and moving files.

Many of them also add features that you normally get by using an external utility. For example, they may have built-in file archiving tools, file comparison facilities, file/text searching capabilities, greater image file format support, tabbed interfaces, keyboard shortcuts, file splitting and merging, easy renaming of multiple files in one go, and so forth.

Related Pages

Free File Management Utilities, Windows Explorer Replacements, Graphical Shells

File Commander (Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, FreeBSD)

File Commander is a dual-pane file manager for Windows, Mac OS X, Linux and FreeBSD. Besides the usual features of being able to copy, rename, move, delete files (and so on), it also includes plugins for viewing text, images and comparing files. The above link leads to the main page containing the description of the software. To download the executables (binaries) or the complete source code package, go to the releases page (which at this time, is not linked from the main page). You may have to expand the "Assets" link on that page to find the download links. (Not all versions appear to have downloads for Windows and Mac OS X, so scroll down to earlier versions and expand the Assets link for each of them till you get one with an executable for your system. Linux and FreeBSD users probably have to compile the software themselves.)

Far Manager (Windows)

Far Manager is an open source file manager for Windows with an appearance similar to that of the old Norton Commander. Like the latter, it operates in text mode, and lets you manage files and directories, including the usual operations of copying, moving, renaming, deleting, editing, etc. You can also add plugins that will extend the functionality of the software, such as to integrate the ability to work on archives, as a web browser, as an FTP client, etc.

Tablacus Explorer (Windows)

Tablacus Explorer is a portable tabbed file manager for Windows with customizable menus, keys, mouse gestures, aliases, and file associations. It supports a variety of add-ons that can extend the functionality of the main program, including a search bar, regular expression searching, the ability to split a window into 3 frames, etc. This is an open source program.

Multi Commander (Windows)

Multi Commander is a dual-panel Windows file manager that supports multiple tabs on each panel. Like the other Windows explorer replacements, this program includes a large number of built-in features, including support for viewing and extracting files from archives (ie, zip, 7-zip, rar, tar, gz, bz2, jar files) and even creating some types of archives (namely, zip, 7-zip, tar, gz, bz2, tar.gz and tar.bz2), the ability to browse inside registry files, the ability to view numerous types of image files (eg, gif, jpg, png, bmp, tiff, some RAW formats), support for converting pictures between formats, rotating them, viewing and removing EXIF tags, editing EXIF dates, viewing and editing MP3 tags, a built-in binary or hexadecimal viewer, renaming of multiple files and folders, a facility to compare files and folders, and lots more. You can either get the full installer version or the portable version (which you can place on a USB flash drive or other portable device).

Double Commander (Windows, Linux)

Double Commander provides a dual pane file manager with Unicode support, the ability to rename multiple files in one go, built-in syntax highlighting text editor, built-in support for handling archive files (eg, zip, tar.gz, rpm, cpio, deb, bz2, etc) as though they are subdirectories, the ability to search through multiple files, a tabbed interface, customizable columns, etc. At the time this entry was written, the program is still under development and testing, although a preliminary (ie, "beta") version is available for testing.

muCommander (Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, BSD, etc)

This file manager, muCommander, provides a "Norton Commander style interface" with support for local hard disks as well as accessing files over FTP, SFTP, SMB, NFS, HTTP and Bonjour. Besides the usual file-handling facilities like copying, deleting, renaming, creating directories, etc, it also has built-in archivers to browse or create zip, tar, gzip, bzip2, ISO/NRG, ar/deb and lst archives. The program is cross-platform and works on any operating system that has a Java runtime environment, including those listed above. It is licensed under the GNU General Public License version 3.

FreeCommander (Windows)

Free Commander features both dual-pane (horizontal and vertical) and tabs, with an optional tree view for each panel, a built-in file viewer to view hex / binary files, text files and images, built-in ZIP (read and write), CAB (read and write) and RAR (read) handling, nested archive support, the ability to wipe files, the facility to check and verify MD5 checksums, support for file splitting, file properties and context menu, file searching even inside archives, file filters, a built-in DOS command line, user-define columns for detailed view, etc.

Tabbed Explorer (Windows)

Tabbed Explorer is a tabbed file manager, in that you can open folders in different tabs in the same window. It uses Windows Explorer for the contents of those tabs. You do not need to install it in order to use it (that is, there is a portable version).

ExplorerXP (Windows)

ExplorerXP is a file manager that is free for non-commercial use. It features a tabbed interface, easy access to My Computer, Recycle Bin, My Documents and the Desktop, drag and drop support, multiple file rename utility, file splitting and merging tools, unicode support, the abiliity to recursively delete files based on a given list of extensions or wildcards, configurable keyboard shortcuts, etc.

Krusader Twin Panel File Management (Linux)

Krusader is a twin panel file manager for KDE featuring archive handling, mounted filesystem support, FTP, search, internal viewer and editor, directory synchronisation, file content comparisons, batch renaming, etc. It is released under the GNU General Public License.

NexusFile (Windows)

NexusFile is a dual pane file manager for Windows. It has support for multiple tabs in that each pane can have its own set of tabs. It can also extract files from a variety of archive files, such as zip, rar, arj, ace, and alz, 7z, iso, cab, tar, bz2, and z, and compress files in the zip format. Other features include FTP support, customizable shortcut keys, advanced renaming facilities, file checksumming, etc. The software is portable in that it does not use any registry entries or install anything into the system folders, thus allowing it to be placed on a portable USB drive.

WazTree (Windows)

[Update: this software does not appear to be available any more.] WazTree is a file manager that you can use instead of Windows explorer. It features a tab interface, drag and drop support, built-in zip, unzip, zip to self-extracting exe, repair zip as well as the ability to use an external zip/unzip program, built-in graphic files viewer with capture, crop and conversion facilities for BMP, ICO, GIF, WMF and EMF, built-in Internet browser, email support from within the file manager or editor, the ability to synchronise folders, access to DOS prompt, built-in CD and multimedia player, calendar, clock, etc.

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