Windows 8 doesn’t come with a Modern file explorer app, forcing tablet users to peck at the small targets in the File Explorer window on the desktop. But this is Windows 8, not Windows XP Tablet PC Edition – you can install a Modern file explorer app and have a much better touch experience.
All Modern File Explorer apps have the same limitations other Modern apps do. For example, they can’t modify system files like the ones in your Program Files folder or launch .exe files. This helps prevent the Modern app from doing anything bad to your system, but it also means that it can never be as powerful as the real File Explorer application on your desktop.
SkyDrive – Included
It’s actually pretty clear why Windows 8 doesn’t come with a Modern File Explorer app. Apple’s iOS doesn’t have a user-visible file system at all, while Android does have a file system but doesn’t come with a file manager. Microsoft wants you to use SkyDrive as your file explorer app, so your files will be stored in the cloud with your Microsoft account and synced across all your devices. That’s why there’s a Modern SkyDrive app included with Windows 8, but no Modern File Explorer.
Still, file managers aren’t dead yet – that’s why even Windows RT ships with a File Explorer desktop app. You don’t necessarily want every file on your computer to be synced with the cloud.
EaseUS FileManager – Free
EaseUS FileManager isn’t packed with options and features, but it does offer a slick, minimal interface for browsing your files. It feels very at home on Windows 8 – more at home than some of the other Windows 8 apps here – and offers large touch targets for easily browsing your files on a touch screen. If you just want to view the contents of a few folders, this may be the ideal app for you. This is one of the few file management apps that’s free and doesn’t contain any advertising.
Apps like this one demonstrate why a Modern File Explorer could be useful. For example, you could view your Downloads folder and launch or delete files in it. Files will be opened in their default application – whether it’s a modern app or a desktop app. Its interface allows you to manage files with touch much more conveniently than if you were pecking at the small targets in the File Explorer app on the desktop.
Take a look at our EaseUS FileManager directory review for more details about this app.
My Explorer – Free
My Explorer is also free, without any ads. It may not be the prettiest application, but it has a solid interface that allows you to save folders as favorites so you can quickly access them and browse your entire file system.
EaseUS and My Explorer differ primarily in the style of their interfaces. Choose the app that looks best to you.
Modern File Explorer – $1.99
Modern File Explorer has a nicely designed interface with a traditional File Explorer-style navigational sidebar, a directory hierarchy near the top of the screen that allows you to easily go up a folder, and a variety of settings.
This app offers a variety of themes and backgrounds – just like the Start screen does – so it can be customized to fit in with the rest of the Modern experience.
Windows 8 allows you to try paid apps before you buy them, so you can play with this app – and others – before you decide whether you want to buy it.
Metro Commander – Free, $3.99 to Remove Ads
Metro Commander is a “Commander”-style file manager like the classic Norton Commander. It offers a dual-pane interface so you can view two different directories at once and easily move files between them. Some people swear by Commander-style interfaces for more powerful and streamlined file management tasks. If you’re one of them, Metro Commander is the Modern file management app for you.
File Brick – Free, $2.49 to Remove Ads
File Brick has a fairly nice interface, aside from an obnoxiously large advertisement banner on its main screen, that looks at home on Windows 8. Its standout feature is its support for other types of cloud storage accounts, including Google Drive, Box, Picasa, Facebook, and Flickr. Google Drive in particular is one service you won’t see with a Modern app of its own any time soon.
Microsoft may eventually create a Modern file explorer app, but don’t count on it – like other companies, they want to get rid of the file system for average users and move everyone to cloud storage.
Have you tried any of the apps here? Which Modern file explorer app is your favorite? Leave a comment and let us know!