If you use Windows, you use File Explorer — it’s the primary method of navigating around the files and folders stored on your PC, and it’s more than fit for the task. However, you might not be using the application to its full potential.
There’s more to File Explorer than meets the eye. It’s possible to install extensions that add extra functionality, and some of these utilities could save you time and effort on a daily basis. Here are the top ten extensions that you can download and install right now.
Tabbed browsing is a standard feature of any modern web browser, and it’s something that many users would find helpful as a part of File Explorer. Fortunately, several extensions offer this functionality, with the best of the bunch being Clover.
Clover will be familiar to anyone that uses tabs in their browser; CTRL + T opens a new tab, CTRL + W closes the current tab and CTRL + TAB cycles through the tabs you have open. Covert also supports bookmarking individual paths for easy access at a later time.
This is a simple extension, but one that does its job very well. Anyone looking for tab support with a minimum of fuss will be well served by Clover.
2. Link Shell Extension
Sometimes, it might be useful to have a single file present in multiple folders on your computer, as opposed to simply having separate copies of that same file in different locations. Windows actually has functionality allowing this that dates back to Windows 2000 — but unfortunately, taking advantage of it requires some knowledge of the command prompt.
Thankfully, this File Explorer extension simplifies the process drastically: Link Shell Extension allows you to create the aforementioned hardlinks (as well as junctions, volume mountpoints, and symbolic links) with nothing more than a few clicks.
To create a hardlink using the extension, right-click the desired file and select Pick Link Source. Then, navigate to the folder you want to drop a link into, right-click and a select Drop As > Hardlink. You’ll see a small red arrow overlaid over the resulting file’s icon to denote that it’s a hardlink.
Many extensions serve to add extra functionality not in the standard version of File Explorer. TeraCopy simply seeks to supercharge the copy process, while making a few tweaks to improve the user experience.
Once TeraCopy is installed, you’ll immediately feel the benefits of its improvements to copy speed working passively. The extension works by implementing dynamic buffer adjustments to ensure that seek times are kept as low as possible.
However, that’s not the only trick that TeraCopy has up its sleeve. It also offers up the ability to pause the copy process to free up system resources, before continuing at a later time. It also boasts some protections in case of a copy error. This might not be the most glamorous extension out there, but if you spend lots of time copying files, it’s well worth the download.
4. Folder Size
Here’s an extension that lets you take a peek into a folder without actually opening it up, as well as efficiently presenting sizes for folders as well as files. Folder Size is a handy utility that adds extra information without cluttering the user interface (UI).
The extension changes its functionality slightly, depending on whether you’re using Windows 2000, XP, or a newer version of the operating system. The prior category sees an extra column titled Folder Size added to the standard File Explorer interface. In more recent versions, it appears as a dockable pop-ups separate to the active window.
Folder Size has clearly been developed with an awareness of the user experience — it’s set up to avoid scanning for file sizes when it’s inconvenient. If other programs are reading or writing to the disk, it will allow them to complete that task before taking up resources to continue its research. This whole process is automatic, meaning no manual scans on your part.
5. InfoTag Magic
Like Folder Size, this extension is all about offering up extra information, but in this case the focus is on music files. InfoTag Magic allows you to access the song title, performing artist, year of release, and more just by hovering over the file in an Explorer window.
All you need to do is make sure your MP3, WMA, or OGG files have their tags properly filled out, and once InfoTag Magic is installed, that information will appear as a tool tip whenever your cursor lingers over the file name. The same functionality even offers up a useful preview of text files.
File Explorer already offers up plenty of functionality in its right-click context menu — but there’s always room for improvement. Clickie adds a couple of practical features that power users will appreciate.
The first feature copies the file path of the currently selected file, which can be very useful if it’s tucked away under several layers of a folder hierarchy. The second opens a DOS window in the current directory, which can be good to have easy access to if you spend a lot of time working with command prompts.
Billed as “what Microsoft forgot to implement in the Windows Explorer,” StExBar offers up a variety of different features in a handy toolbar. Whether you want to copy a file path, create a new folder, or open up a console window, you’ll be able to do so in seconds, thanks to a convenient selection of commands.
The one drawback to this tool is that it’s a little unfocused. Most extensions choose one job and stick to it, but this one attempts to act as a jack-of-all-trades. That’s not to say that it doesn’t complete the tasks well, but it does add some extra clutter that might be more bother than it’s worth, if you only want certain elements of the functionality on offer.
However, if these commands would save you time on a regular basis, there’s really no reason not to install StExBar.
8. Folder Colorizer
If you’ve moved to Windows from Mac OS X, you might miss one small but convenient feature — the ability to apply specific colors to your folders. As well as being a quick and easy way to beautify your system, this can be a very useful method of making complex file hierarchies a little easier to navigate.
Folder Colorizer by Softorino brings that same ability to Windows. Once it’s installed, just right-click the desired folder and select Colorize to pick out the best shade for the job.
Anyone looking for even more control over the way their folders are presented should check out Folderico. This extension not only allows you to select a color, it offers up an easy way of swapping out the icon that’s in place, and even a host of themes to keep things looking smart and uniform.
Of course, it’s easy to get carried away, turning a File Explorer window into something of a technicolor patchwork — but worry not, as it only takes one click to removes your customizations and take things back to how they looked before.
HashTab is a great utility for anyone who’s particularly security conscious, or for someone who might have to use this sort of security measure as part of their job. MakeUseOf published a great guide to hashing, if you’re unfamiliar with what the process is all about.
In simple terms, an MD5 checker creates a small file known as a hash that can then be used to verify its legitimacy by checking it against a known constant. It’s a straightforward, but powerful security measure, and HashTab gives you easy access to it from a File Explorer window.
Do you know about a handy File Explorer extension that you’d like to share with others? Or are you looking for help finding an extension for a specific purpose? Whether you’re offering help or looking for it, your best bet is the comments section below.