How to get a Better Windows File Manager


Over the years, the file manager in Windows has been persistently inadequate. Microsoft’s failure to come up with something better has been a long-time deficiency and annoyance in Windows. However, there are plenty of alternate file managers available, both commercial and free. A selection of the best free ones is discussed in this Gizmo review and one of the favorites is Multi Commander.

Multi Commander was recently updated to version 5.0 and subsequently to version 5.1.1 so I thought it worth taking a look. The developer’s description is on this page and download links are here. There are both 32- and 64-bit editions. The program is said to work on all current versions of Windows from XP on up. You can choose either a full installer or a portable version. I tried only the portable 64-bit version, Windows 7 and 8.1. The portable version is an 8 MB zipped collection that should be unpacked to a folder of its own. To use the program, run the file MultiCommander.exe. The first time it is run, the program will display a dialog for configuring mouse and keyboard settings. The setting “Windows Explorer Compatibility Look ‘N Feel” will suit many but there are a number of other options.

On my system, Malwarebytes marked the archive as clean but VirusTotal does report two flags out of 57 scans for the portable archive file. However, this is a long-established application and these flags can presumably be considered false positives. The warnings are based on heuristics and apply to two secondary files and not the main executables. (See this discussion of false positives.) However, anyone bothered by this sort of report might want to skip this program. According to the developer, the program is “100% clean from third party software. No other software than Multi Commander will be installed. Multi Commander does not change any settings in Windows, And does not hook itself into anything inside Windows.

The program has the two-pane, tabbed interface that most people expect in a replacement file manager as well as many other features such as support for operations within RAR, ZIP, TAR, GZ archives. The image below shows an example of the file manager. One possible drawback to this manager is that it has quite a large number of features listed in tabs. While a large number of features may appeal to advanced users, a typical average PC user may feel a little overwhelmed by all the options.

Multi Commander

Online documentation of how to use the file manager is available on this page. This same page also has a link that provides a download of a PDF with documentation. In addition, the developer runs a support forum at this link.

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Thank you for this wonderful article, I appreciate it very much.

Thanks but tried it. Prefer Q-Dir 6.11 dual panes, config saving, etc. Looks bit like Multi but cleaner.

I tried Multi Commander before, but I much prefer Q-Dir ( which is highly configurable, with multi-panes, navigation sidebar, etc. Oh, and free! But I'll take a look at the new MC update.

I much prefer a file manager that has dual tabbed panes. In other words, where you can easily switch, in each pane, to a different folder.

xplorer2 lite is an incredibly powerful dual tabbed pane file manager, and is free for private and educational use:

{moderator's note: reference to professional edition removed}

MultiCommander is a dual file manager, as can be seen from screenshot in the article. The software covered in the Gizmo's review for Best Free File Managers:

also has dual pane file managers, not only just the software you recommend.

Thanks v.laurie,
I've been having a tough time sorting and transferring many files, photos and docs for a while now. (Windows 7)
My fault entirely for being untidy with my PC "housekeeping"

This has made life so much easier for me.... and it's free !