Best Free File Manager

toggle-button
 

Introduction

A File Manager provides a convienient way for the end users to work with file systems and perform various operations on files and folders such as create, edit, rename, copy, delete, modify file attributes, compare folders etc. While Windows Explorer provides a fair amount of simple file management activities, a dedicated file manager helps you to keep things unsophisticated and gives you various tools out of the box to manage a large number of files at a time. File managers gives you faster and easier management of files and folders on your PC.

The various special features that I'm looking forward to in a file manager are Dual panes, Tabbed interface, Bookmarks, History, Archive handling, Advanced File Search, MultiRename, Folder Size Enumeration, Folder Compare & Synchronize, FTP support, File viewer, File sorting, File splitter, Filtered view, Keyboard shortcuts, Easy access to system folders and more.

So here're the top 5 products that I found after months of testing, that combines the best of interface, features and customizability among all the file managers out there. Since these top 5 products include most of these features mentioned in the introduction, I won't go in detail about them in each review.

 

Rated Products

FreeCommander XE  

An elegant and user friendly file manager with a huge set of features, powerful searching function and great customization.


Our Rating: 
5
License: Free
Great interface, Searching inside archives, Plain and structureless view, Extensive toolbar and keyboard shortcuts, Quick starter workspace, Backup & Restore, Desktop screenshot.
Missing certain features that are yet to be added: FTP client, Layout, Content plugins, File splitting.
Read full review...

Unreal Commander  

A file manager comes close to the look and feel of Total Commander with a powerful filter system.


Our Rating: 
5
License: Free
Universal viewer, Exact Total Commander clone, Powerful File splitter and FTP client, Support for WLX, WCX, WDX plugins, Password keeper.
Requires registration with free license key, confusing interface icons.
Read full review...

Nomad.NET  

A portable and powerful file manager written using .NET technology with a simplified and clean user interface.


Our Rating: 
4.5
License: Free
Clean interface, Powerful search function, Workspace support, Extensive toolbar customization, Packer with encryption support.
Probably not in development anymore, No multi-rename or history support.
Read full review...

Multi Commander  

A great file manager with a vast array of features in its arsenal for power users.


Our Rating: 
4.5
License: Free
Different look n feel setups, Button panels, Extensive customization options, Powerful file operations, Mapping file keys, Language editor.
Best for power users, Less powerful viewer.
Read full review...

Master Commander  

A portable, no frills, simple yet advanced file manager for daily use.


Our Rating: 
4
License: Free
Best suited for beginners, Huge feature set: Digital signature, Create ISO, Convert codepages, Download & process manager.
No extensive customization capabilities, Less powerful features.
Read full review...

More File Managers

Although the best are listed above, it doesn't hurt to know more options out there, if you aren't satisfied with the any of the above. 

Nexus File Rating 8 of 10

  • Modern interface - Probably the most modern and sytlish interface that I've seen. 
  • Work Folder - If you set a folder as an work folder. you can go to that folder with shortcut key right away. Also copy/move/extract files/folders to an work folder with only two step keyboard shortcut.
  • Innovative Folder Tree - The hierarchial represeting let's you see all the sub-contents at a glance. 
  • Colors - You can customize colors for file listings and folder free. Different colors for various file types lets you to easily distinguish files at a glance.

Home | Download | Portable | Release Notes | FAQ | Forum

wxCommander Rating 8 of 10

  • Advanced Built-in text editor - One of the best text editors I've seen, with syntax highlighting. 
  • Shortcut menus for USB flash drives - Makes starting applications very easy right from your USB drive.
  • Portable - No installation or uninstallation required. 
  • Linux styled interface may not please everyone. 

Home | Download | Release Notes | Plugins | Contact

xplorer2lite Rating 7 of 10

  • Multifunctional address bar - Specifying folder names and visual filters and for running windows applications.
  • Autocompletion - Paths and other frequently typed information.
  • Dockable Thumbnail bar - To preview images, html and office applications.
  • No hotkey cusomization and uses windows search. 
  • Free version limited. See feature comparison

Home | Download | Support | FAQ

Better Explorer Rating 6 of 10

  • Ribbon sytled tabbed explorer for Win 7 & 8
  • Drive usage analysis chart
  • Conditional selecting - filtering, searching, selecting. 
  • Is just an enhancement to the Windows 8 explorer

Home | Download | Release Notes

R.I.P File Managers

These file managers were once great, but are no longer developed. They continue to work on latest versions of Windows, but won't be featured in the main review.

Not Recommended

These file managers were tested but falls short in features and overall usability. They are either too simple or too restricted in features for daily use. 

To Be Reviewed:

These File Mangers were brought up in the user comments section. I'm currently reviewing them or have finished reviewing and waiting to be listed in the main article during the next review update. Please be patient. 

Notes

File managers that were written as 32-bit applications will generally work on 64-bit Windows, but functionality will be limited in two ways:

  • Shell extensions (i.e., file context menu entries) of 64 bit applications won't appear in a 32 bit file manager.
  • 32-bit file managers will not be able to access the "system32" directory of a 64 bit Windows installation, they will be deflected to the "sysWOW64" directory instead.
  • 32-bit programs have not full access to the control panel.

Related Products and Links

You might want to check out these articles too:

Editor

This software category is maintained by volunteer editor George.J. Registered members can contact the editor with any comments or questions they might have by clicking here.

Back to the top of the article.

 

Please rate this article: 

Your rating: None
3.94215
Average: 3.9 (121 votes)
toggle-button

Comments

Have you ever tried a Tabbed File Manager ?
If not see my comments about XYPlorerFree below

Thank you for the reply
When I discovered this discussion I've tested XY but perhaps am I wrong but I do not find the way to manage more than 2 panes....

And all my workspaces have 8/12 panes...
Do XY is able to display the same?

Look
http://www.servimg.com/view/10007441/3783

Anyone aware of a file manager that supports reading from and writing to MTP devices?

I can't use "Windows Explorer" it fails to copy the data and gets stuck at "calculating time".

XYPlorerFree used to have it.
It is high on his list of things to do -
http://www.xyplorer.com/xyfc/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=6139

In that thread eil says this
the only workaround is to switch your devices in "usb-mode"

Or perhaps find an earlier version of XYPlorerFree

Rob

Do any of these other than MultiCommander have right-click file selection? Been using MultiCommander, and once you get used to using this feature, it's hard to go back to traditional selection methods. The only reason I ask is I'm having issues with MC seeing external/flash drives sometimes, even though Windows file explorer shows them.

Unreal Commander by default has right-click file selection. You can set other file managers to have right-click file selection. For instance in FreeCommander XE, go to Settings->Select items(on left-side bar)->NC-Mode(tab)->Tick the checkbox 'Select items in NC Mode'->Select with right mouse button. About MultiCommander problem, why don't you try refreshing the pane (F5), after you insert a flash drive.

Thank you for the reply. I'll check out those mentioned. I have tried refreshing MC, but no luck. It might be an issue with the Beta version. I'll have to install the last stable, and see if it resolves the issue.

XYplorer is nice, but another great one is XNView. It doesn't have too much capability for tabbed or pane folder navigation, but everything else it does is awesome & it has great customization!

This category is about file managers, whereas XNView is a graphics viewer and image manager, and therefore does not belong in this category.

Actually, while yes it is mostly for those things, it is also a file manager. It has great capabilities, plus file ratings. The image viewing capabilities make it best for managing photos, but it can be used for regular file management. It's only flaw is the lack of tabs or panes. It's highly customizable & lets you manage all of your files like all the other file managers.

I tested them all and I like to say that I like:
- FreeCommander XE
- xplorer2 Lite
- XYplorer Free

Because they all do FAST text-file-like preview pane. This is very handy to browse/peek through lots of text files.

I will enter another vote for XYplorer (freeware). Loaded with features and I rarely use my image viewers anymore. XYplorer has image preview. If you left click and hold it shows full size image. Same with the thumbnail views. Left click and hold on thumbnail and it shows full size image. Single or dual pane. Easy copy, move, delete with built in file shredder. I've tried quite a few file managers, some terrible, some okay. If you work with a lot of images, XYplorer should be just what you're looking for.

Everyone please note -
The best tabbed File Manager in the universe, has released a free version -
http://www.xyplorer.com/free.php
Here is the Feature List and Comparison -
http://www.xyplorer.com/features.php

Do yourself (and family and friends) a favor, and get it.

Rob

I love this site - great for finding excellent free software. I can browse here for hours!

Anyway, I came here looking for a W7/W8 file manager. I would prefer portable so I can take it into work and run from a usb (we are not allowed to install anything on work computers).

The best I have used recently are Q-dir, and FreeCommander XE; both are great for free but not quite 100% what I was looking for.

I was considering buying Directory Opus but I couldn't believe the price! And the strict licence.

Then I read somewhere that XYPlorer was free again, and worth a try.

Well it blows my socks off! This has come a long way. I normally go 'free' but I am actually considering a donation or even buying a licence for this.

Give the free version a go. It just seems to know what you want to do and is lovely to look at. I am trying it in dual pane with the tree/mini tree function which is great. It has a green tracker/highlighter to show where you are clearly in the structure - a great feature.

I will be spending some more time looking at this, as the customisation is quite extensive. The more I dig the more impressed I am. Take my word for it - this could be a game changer regarding an explorer replacement. Microsoft should just buy this guy out for a few million and put it as windows default file manager - it's really advanced!

I would like to know what others think of it. Give it a try. Small file size, free and portable. Is it just me or is this program really good now? Shame about the name though! :-)

PS. Thanks Gizmo people for this site and everyone that contributes!

I'm frustrated with a new Win8 system. I'm scanning a gazillion old photos; scanner automatically assigns an img file no. After putting the pics into folders, XP easily allowed me to arrange the files in the order/sequence that I wanted, and then to group change the file names to that sequence. Win8 File Explorer does not allow disabling "auto arrange". So, your "Free File Manager" review gives me hope. I think my need is pretty basic; of those reviewed, is there a particular program that you'd recommend

You can in fact have the option to disable autoarrange in Windows 7 and 8, if you're happy to run a third-party batch file.

It is from a reputable source and you can read it about it here with download links for W7 and 8 - http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/windows-and-office/quick-tip-disable-th...

(Separate download links for W7 and W8, so be sure to get the right batch file for your O/S)

The batch file is essentially an automated means of editing quite a lot of registry keys to get the desired result (adds an autoarrange on/off item to your context menu etc), so if you know your way around the registry you could easily unpack the batch and see exactly what it does.

It works well in W7 anyway but I can't speak for W8 sorry.

thanks to sicknero for reply,
actually I am nervous about third-party solutions... all the cautions (like from sevenforums) give me fears of making the situation worse. is there any reason I shouldn't just download a program like FreeCommander XE to work alongside Win File Explorer?

Not at all, I think you're absolutely right to be cautious especially if you're not able to see what the batch file does exactly. I just thought I'd mention that there is a way to do it in native Windows Explorer.

FreeCommander has been my own favourite for a long time, I use it a lot but I don't know if it supports manual sorting such as you describe as it's not a feature I use. I did just try it but couldn't seem to make it work, perhaps someone else here knows how or uses this feature in one of the other alternative file managers.

Failing that, my own way of renaming files in the way that you describe is to use Kim Jensen's Advanced Renamer (http://www.advancedrenamer.com/)

With this you can open a folder/files, view your pics as file list/details/thumbnails etc and move the files to any order you wish before renaming some or all of them.

It also reads EXIF data which you can use in the renaming rules (ditto with MP3 files/Tag Data) and, you can add it to Windows context menu to open selected files or whole folders directly into the program. There's a preview pane too which is handy when browsing files in list/details mode.

As I mentioned I'm on Windows 7 myself but the dev says that the program is W8 compatible. It's actively developed, the latest update was just two days ago.

Sorry for going a bit off-topic everyone : )

I wonder if any readers can help. I am looking for a file manager that lets me see the total size of any selected folder and also the total aggregated size of a selection of multiple folders. The tools seem to miss this and rely on you looking at properties or drilling down inside a folder. I am looking to backup a number of folders but within a limit and cannot seem to find a tool that will help me see either the size of a folder or the total size of a selection of folders. Thanks in advance..

Reply from member sicknero who unfortunately fell foul of the site spam filter. FreeCommander will do this ... I'm using the latest XE version I forget if the older one has the same functionality sorry. Anyway ... it's easily done. Having navigated to whatever parent directory you want to work in, you then select "Size of Folders" in the Folder menu, or hotkey Alt-F9 (or whatever you want to set it to). FC will then display a column of folder sizes. If you then multi-select a number of folders, FC will display the aggregate size in the Status Bar. I made a screenshot so you can see if this is what what you are after - http://img191.imageshack.us/img191/5512/gs36.png I forget off-hand sorry whether it does this out-of-the-box or if I tweaked a setting somewhere ... try the non-install version of FreeCommanderXE and let us know how you get on? (To be fair I'd be surprised if most or even all of these alternative file managers didn't have such an ability.)

@sicknero . Thanks. Yes I tried it and it works. Was me being stupid, when I tried FC earlier I think I was looking at the library rather than the folder -which seems to give a different reading. Very much appreciate the response and help..

XYPlorer Free has been revived after 7 years, and is at version 13 now. A very good file manager to try out.

Thanks for the heads-up! I read your comment and tried it; I wouldn't have bothered otherwise. I think it is one of the best I have seen as an all-rounder. I am considering writing my own review.

After using MultiCommander (MC) for a while, there is a missing feature that all file managers should have. Assume that you have configured MC with the "Tree Mode". For incremental backup or copying from one disk to another, one should be able to drag a directory from the left panel tree to the right panel tree (or reverse)and have MC copy the entire directory and its subdirectories for all files with a newer creation date. Right now, the MC "tree mode" is semi-passive. You can use it to to change directories in the display panel, but not for much else. On the plus side for MC, you can drag directories from the right display panel to the left display panel (or reverse) and incrementally copy files in the selected directory. However, this is awkward compared to dragging directories directly from the "tree mode".

You could use FreeCommander XE to get the desired effect. "On the plus side for MC, you can drag directories from the right display panel to the left display panel (or reverse) and incrementally copy files in the selected directory." This is how I do, which is the main reason why 2 pane feature has been implemented in file managers. I don't usually drag from the tree .

I tried several of the file managers listed. After some playing around customizing the appearance and operation of the managers, I found that Multi Commander came closest to a really useful file manager for the most common use - namely copy, move and backup of files that have changed.

[Commercial reference removed]The main power of Multi Commander is the ability to have either one or two panes open with a tree in each. The copy/move command with automatic detection of newer and older files is ideal for incremental backup. Most things work intuitively. It's loaded with features that are very nice, but that I infrequently use.

Thanks for sharing your experiences with MultiCommander. Yes it's one good file manager.

I have to disagree with your listing Just Manager in the 'to be avoided' section.

For so many years I have used Total Commander, and I still do. That said it is rapidly falling behind in terms of what it can do and also its extremely archaic appearance.

[Promotion for commercial software removed as per site rules]

I do like q-Dir for its ability to have a quad screen layout, but Just Manager can have whatever you want, within reason, I currently have it set to 3 vertical columns all of which have tab bars. I would struggle to find a better free file manager and yes it may be in alpha stage, but it has never caused me an issue in the last 6 months of use.

I have tried your current leader, Free commander and yes there are some features which make it good, yes it is very customisable, but I find some things are awkward, I never seem to get the tabs set right and on occasion drag and drop has suddenly stopped working for no apparent reason.

[Promotion for commercial software removed]

On balance Just Manager is my file manager of choice, I have deleted Q-Dir and Free Commander, I can't quite bring myself to deleting Total Commander though.

At Gizmo's we don't usually recommend products in alpha stage. Yes Just Manager has a great future, but at present it's a file manager in early development stages. Haven't had problem with tabs or drag'n'drop features in FCXE. Are you using the latest version of the program (0.650)?

Yes I am using the latest version and also, as well as the ongoing drag and drop issues, buttons cease to function after a period of time requiring the program to be restarted in order to rectify the issues.

Pages