Free Commander File Manager for Windows

I’ve been learning my way around Windows 7. So far, there’s not much to learn, but I’ve been chaffing under the “libraries” overlay in Windows Explorer.

So I went looking for some new file managers.

Back in the olden Windows 3.1 days, I had Windows File Manager configured to show two panes on startup. When Windows File Manager morphed into Windows Explorer, that was no longer an option.

For a long time, I ran a commercial program called Power Desk, which was what Windows Explorer should have been and worth every penny I paid for it.

I found two freeware file managers worthy of consideration. One of them is Free Commander; the other, File Organizer, will be the subject of a future post (there apparently is at least one other shareware/commercial program called File Organizer).

Free Commander by default offers a split vertical view:

Free Commander Vertical View

Each pane can be navigated independently of the other pane and files can be dragged and dropped from one pane to another.

Under the “View” menu, there is a “Quickview” option that allows a selected file or directory in one pane to be previewed in the other:

Free Commander Quickview

Free Commander also is able to see across your network by selecting the “Network” icon in the icon bar (I name all my computers after sea creatures–it’s a long story):

Free Commander Network View

You can also right-click on the address bar, select “Edit Address Bar,” and enter a folder path or local IP address (this appears to work only with local addresses). Once you are connected to the network share, you can drag and drop files between the panes:

Network View:  By IP Address

By going to Extras–>Settings, you can configure the tool bars, view settings, and many other items. The program includes menu items for synchronizing folders, comparing files and folders, finding files, and many other useful tasks.

Plus there’s none of the silly “Library” overlay. To see your “Pictures Library,” for example, you navigate to the C:\ drive, then to the Users folder, then to the [username] folder, and finally to the Pictures folder.

The only thing I’ve found so far that Free Commander cannot do in Windows 7 is view certain system files and folders that can be viewed in Windows Explorer. For example, in Explorer, I can see the etc folder in the drivers folder in the System32 folder in the Windows folder (the location of the HOSTS file).* I cannot see that folder in Free Commander.

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*I spelled this out in such a convoluted fashion because, when I tested this post, the backslashes did not display.

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