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comparison of file managersI have learned to love Windows Explorer from being able to map Skydrive How to Upload & Sync Files to SkyDrive from Windows Explorer How to Upload & Sync Files to SkyDrive from Windows Explorer Read More on my desktop, but it can be slow at times, showing me that “Not Responding” message that I really dislike seeing. I’m almost positive that’s one of the reasons applications such as Explorer++ Forget Windows Explorer, Explorer++ Is The Perfect, Powerful Alternative Forget Windows Explorer, Explorer++ Is The Perfect, Powerful Alternative Read More and other Windows Explorer Replace Windows Explorer With A More Powerful Alternative Replace Windows Explorer With A More Powerful Alternative Read More replacement file managers The 5 Good Free Windows File Managers The 5 Good Free Windows File Managers Read More exist. There’s even more dedicated file browsers for multimedia FreshView - Awesome App To Organize & Browse Your Multimedia Files [Windows] FreshView - Awesome App To Organize & Browse Your Multimedia Files [Windows] Read More , as well as open-source alternatives, such as QMMander QMMander - Cool Open Source Alternative to Windows Explorer QMMander - Cool Open Source Alternative to Windows Explorer Read More .

Here are two more file browsers that carry handy features that Windows Explorer lacks. The first one may even be hidden within your installed programs, while the second one is a new application with a twist.

7-Zip File Manager (Cross-Platform)

You probably already have downloaded one of the best file compression/decompression tools out there, 7-zip, which shines with its high compression rate (and fares well compared to other free file archivers The Top 3 File Compression & Extraction Softwares The Top 3 File Compression & Extraction Softwares Read More ), but did you know it also bundles a lightweight file manager? Me neither, up until it was mentioned on How-To Geek.

The 7-zip two-pane file manager just works and doesn’t get stuck like Windows Explorer might if you try to copy or move an enormous file around.

comparison of file managers

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If you already have 7-zip installed, you can start using the file manager by simply typing ” 7″ in the Start Menu search box. If you want faster access, you can right-click on it > Send To > Desktop.

open source file managers

Best Features

There’s also a way for you to omit the cascaded menu when you right-click on say a zip file and instead, have the 7-zip options when you right-click.

best windows file managers

To fix that, you just need to head to Tools in the File Manager menu bar and adjust your Options.

Nemo Documents (Windows)

Nemo Documents is also a lightweight, unobtrusive file manager that displays your file structure à la Google Calendar (which is supported!) or Outlook, that is, in a calendar view and provides more intuitive ways to find files, period. I can see the calendar view being useful to anyone that is GTD-conscious and may want to review files that s/he is working on.

Nemo Documents can also double up as a search tool as it integrates with the built-in Desktop Search function in Vista and Windows 7 to help you search for keywords or phrases inside documents.

Thus, as the author’s website indicates, if you can’t remember the name of some file, you can combine these keywords along with “other clues that you can remember about the document, such as a specific month or the file type” to help you find a file.

Windows 7 can bundle search results by month Windows 7 Libraries Explained - And Why You Want Them Windows 7 Libraries Explained - And Why You Want Them Read More (as you can see in Jim’s screenshot), but now WinXP and Vista users can get this and additional views with the file manager in question.

Another cool thing is that you can tag or label files, regardless of the file type.

comparison of file managers

Usually, you can only add tags to Microsoft documents, JPEG images and nothing else in Windows Explorer, unless you are using third-party applications, such as TaggedFrog TaggedFrog - Cool File Tagging App for Windows TaggedFrog - Cool File Tagging App for Windows Read More or Tag2Find. Thus, if you’re into tagging or could use more efficient file searches with tags, Nemo Documents might be for you.

Nemo Documents is as small as downloads come (the download file size is about 672 KB) and occupies 1.77 MB once installed. It seems like this product is pretty young so it might implement additional features later on as more feedback becomes available to the authors.

Have you got any alternative file browsers you’re extremely fond of? Share it with us in the comments!

Image credit: Andrew Currie

  1. Keira
    November 16, 2015 at 10:13 am

    "cascaded menu when you right-click" in 7-zip is more about personal preferences than bad thing to avoid as you said in this article. I prefer cascaded menu 7z than expand it fully context menu, because I don't use compressing feature that much, also it slow down menu due to have too many things inside it at once (like yours).

  2. Surya Prakash Manchikanti
    November 17, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    XYplorer is really great too. Worth every penny i spent. If you can spare the money, get the pro version as it has a LOT more features (IMO). Moreover, I had a better experience with it than xplorer2 pro due to its stability and extremely fast search. It is better suited for faster laptops though. For slower laptops, I recommend explorer++ (free and no pro version). It is basically an upgrade to the microsoft document explorer and not radically different fom it by offering tabs and a few extras. Hope I was of help.

    • Jessica Cam W.
      November 17, 2010 at 7:36 pm

      Wow, that's really great input. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Vitaly
    November 7, 2010 at 9:54 am
  4. Mavromatis Lozay
    November 5, 2010 at 6:44 pm

    You can try FreeCommander from http://www.freecommander.com/
    It is a free clone of the good old Directory Opus.

  5. Mavromatis Lozay
    November 5, 2010 at 7:44 pm

    You can try FreeCommander from http://www.freecommander.com/
    It is a free clone of the good old Directory Opus.

  6. Aibek
    November 5, 2010 at 10:39 am

    Hey guys,

    also check out previous MakeUseOf post, The 5 Good Free Windows File Managers

    • Jessica Cam W.
      November 6, 2010 at 3:16 am

      I actually linked to that great article in the first paragraph. :) Good reminder, though.

  7. Aibek
    November 5, 2010 at 11:39 am

    Hey guys,

    also check out previous MakeUseOf post, The 5 Good Free Windows File Managers

  8. eMcE
    November 5, 2010 at 10:43 am

    Yeap.. TC is shareware.
    Why is the best?
    Just look at the list of addons and features for TC :)

  9. Wyrdbeard
    November 4, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    I'm having a positive experience with Portable Q-Dir.

    • Jessica Cam W.
      November 4, 2010 at 6:06 pm

      Wow, Q-Dir (freeware) has four panes! That's not bad.

    • TJGeezer
      January 11, 2011 at 12:15 am

      Just saw this and tried Q-Dir - great tip. For a few near-daily tasks I was using my Xplorer2 with multiple tabs in each window - Xplorer2 is great for some things, but for complex file manipulation with several choices for final destination folder, Q-Dir is perfect. And very fast. Thanks!

  10. Jessica Cam W.
    November 4, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    They're both trialware, according to Download.com. Any tips to potential buyers of those programs?

  11. sm
    November 4, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    Directory Opus and XYplorer are not bad either :-)

    • Jessica Cam W.
      November 4, 2010 at 3:19 pm

      They're both trialware, according to Download.com. Any tips to potential buyers of those programs?

  12. eMcE
    November 4, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    The best filemanager?
    Try Total Commander. :)
    Or moded versions: "TC power pack" or "TC ultima prime".

    • Jessica Cam W.
      November 4, 2010 at 3:16 pm

      It's shareware though, and MakeUseOf can only feature free applications. Can you give us more details on why it's good?

      • eMcE
        November 5, 2010 at 9:43 am

        Yeap.. TC is shareware.Why is the best?Just look at the list of addons and features for TC :)

      • Vitaly
        November 7, 2010 at 8:54 am
  13. eMcE
    November 4, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    The best filemanager?
    Try Total Commander. :)
    Or moded versions: "TC power pack" or "TC ultima prime".

  14. Anonymous
    November 4, 2010 at 11:55 am

    Xplorer2. There's a free version that works very well, even though it doesn't have all the features of the paid one - but the core feature set is in the free one too. They're very upfront about what you get for paid vs free, and they balanced the what you get for free vs what you want to pay for part really well. It's so useful I actually paid for the application. It's over at http://www.zabkat.com/

    • Jessica Cam W.
      November 4, 2010 at 6:07 pm

      Cool, will check it out!

  15. cr0ft
    November 4, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    Xplorer2. There's a free version that works very well, even though it doesn't have all the features of the paid one - but the core feature set is in the free one too. They're very upfront about what you get for paid vs free, and they balanced the what you get for free vs what you want to pay for part really well. It's so useful I actually paid for the application. It's over at http://www.zabkat.com/

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