The File Explorer in Windows 10 (which is the default file manager and was previously known as Windows Explorer) has come a long way, it’s more convenient and faster than ever.
However, it still offers very limited customization, and it frankly isn’t the best for working with large chunks of files or multiple folders and windows at once.
Well, if you are unsatisfied with the features of the File Explorer in Windows 10, then you should give third-party file managers a shot.
Below, we’ll have a look at 12 file manager replacements for the default File Explorer to help you choose a better option. The best part is that many of the following software are free as well.
Note also that the ranking below is in no particular order.
1. Multi Commander (Free)
Multi Commander is a file manager replacement for Windows 7, 2012 Server, Windows 10 and other Winsows OS versions.
In our opinion, the primary benefit of Multi Commander over the default Windows 10 file manager is its customizable layout.
Although the default file manager has a pretty decent UI, it has no adjustability. Well, Multi Commander lets you create a layout that’s convenient for your needs and preferences.
Multi Commander also has a multi-pane interface, allowing you to conveniently work with several folders without having to launch multiple instances of the app.
What’s also remarkable about Multi Commander is its script engine that allows you to automate tasks. Multi Commander also supports plugins for functionality extension.
And in terms of file support, Multi Commander lets you browse common archive files, view pictures, and edit MP3 tags – pretty standard stuff. Multi Commander also views FTP as a virtual file system, and it allows you to browse network servers and shares as well.
2. Frigate3 (Free)
Frigate3 is quite an old piece of software, and it doesn’t seem to have received updates for quite some time. But it appears to work on Windows 10 machines just fine.
In terms of functionality, Frigate3 has been outstanding back in the days, and it still is quite nice. It has a flexible and customizable interface, a number of integrated file viewers (for Excel, HTML, RTF, and other files), a built-in calculator and notepad, and more.
Frigate3 also supports an unlimited number of simultaneous file operations, CD burning (kind of irrelevant today, but still), file comparison, archive formats, folder sync, and it even has a size manager that lets you find large files on your drive.
Frigate3 also supports Total Commander plugins, so the two apps should be interchangeable with each other.
3. Total Commander (Free)
Total Commander is comparatively frequently updated – as of this post’s writing, its most recent update had been released in March 2020. So this is a modern piece of software that will seamlessly work with Windows 10.
Total Commander is especially great for working with multiple files. The app features a convenient user interface with two file windows side by side – great if you often work with several folders simultaneously.
The app also lets you compare files and synchronize directories with each other. What’s also nice about Total Commander is that it lets you rename several files at the same time.
We also like that Total Commander supports regular expressions, letting you create shortcuts for commonly executed actions. Total Commander can handle archive files out of the box as well and also supports plugins.
4. Directory Opus (Paid)
Directory Opus is very frequently updated by the devs – if you have a look at the app’s release page, you’ll see that Directory Opus receives updates 1-2 times a month. Not only that, but as of this post, it had been updated just a few days ago!
So if you want your file manager app to be compatible with the newest features of Windows 10, then Directory Opus might be perfect.
If you have 4K monitors, then Directory Opus is also great because its UI is designed to work with them. So you shouldn’t have to deal with tiny windows and interface elements. This might actually be a problem with older pieces of software.
In terms of functionality, Directory Opus supports all the essentials – file filtering, sorting, search, and reading of archive files – and additionally has a few interesting things. It lets you color-code files, as well as assign status icons and descriptions to them.
Directory Opus supports keyboard macros and batch renaming as well to facilitate high-volume jobs. The tabbed interface makes working with multiple folders easy too.
5. Free Commander (Free)
Free Commander is a simple yet powerful file manager for Windows 10. It shares many of its features with previous entries on the list, but it also has other interesting things.
Perhaps the most useful feature of Free Commander is its portability – you may copy the installation directory to a USB stick and use your configuration on another computer.
Free Commander once again has a tabbed interface along with horizontal and vertical pane structuring. The app also provides you with easy access to system folders and lets you perform folder sync and comparisons.
For enhanced search, Free Commander supports file filters (including regexp). The multi-rename tool lets you perform batch renaming too, while the DOS command line interface provides you with access to more advanced file management commands.
One thing to note with Free Commander – though it supports 64-bit Windows, it is a 32-bit program and therefore doesn’t have full access to the control panel and doesn’t view entries of 64-bit programs on 64-bit Windows. Keep these limitations in mind.
6. xplorer2 (Paid)
xplorer2, unlike Free Commander, comes in both 32- and 64-bit versions and will thus work seamlessly on a 64-bit system. It’s also frequently updated – as of this review, it had been last updated on October 7, 2020.
xplorer2 is a paid app, costing $29.95 for the Professional version and $49.95 for the Ultimate version. Unlike Professional, the Ultimate xplorer2 supports portable/network deployment, fast desktop search, and its users receive priority customer support.
Both xplorer2 versions support folder tabs & dual panes, advanced search & file management, and file preview.
xplorer2 is also fully customizable, allowing you to adapt the app to your unique needs and preferences. It supports filename color coding and adding too.
7. XYplorer (Paid)
XYplorer is a file manager intended for the most modern Windows 10 and Server versions, and it also works with Windows XP and Server 2003 – both 32- and 64-bit versions.
One of the traits of XYplorer is that it’s portable – it doesn’t require installation and may be taken to another machine via a USB stick.
XYplorer is scriptable as well, allowing you to define automated actions to save time. The tabbed interface also lets you conveniently manage multiple tabs. The customizable interface can be adapted to any needs too.
XYplorer is actively supported by the developers as well – the devs seem to take each and every user opinion into account, and the app is being updated very frequently. When this post was being written, the app had been last updated on October 15, 2020.
8. Q-Dir (Free)
Q-Dir offers both installed and portable versions, so it’s a good choice both for portable and stationary working environments.
The app had been updated on October 19, 2020, as of this review’s writing as well, so you can be sure that it will work with new Windows 10 updates in the future.
Q-Dir is completely free as well, and it offers all the essentials you would want from a third-party file manager, including an advanced file filter, directory tree-view, file preview, color filters for file types, and more.
9. One Commander (Free or Paid)
One Commander’s latest update has been released in January 2020, but the developers are working on One Commander v3 to deliver performance enhancements, a more responsive layout, and more customization.
The One Commander Twitter account releases weekly updates on development. V3 is still only in alpha, but the development seems to be progressing steadily.
You should probably start with One Commander 2.6.5 and also give a shot to the alpha, but expect bugs from the latter since it’s still in development.
In the meantime, One Commander has free and paid versions ($8) and has a number of useful features, including but not limited to:
- Dark/light themes.
- Long Unicode path support.
- To-do tasks and notes in any folder.
- Image conversion.
- RegEx renaming.
10. Explorer++ (Free)
Explorer++ hasn’t been updated for quite a while – the latest stable version is since 2013, to be exact. With that, going forward, it might start working badly with modern Windows 10 apps and features.
However, keep in mind that in 2019 there is a beta version released which is promising.
Still, Explorer++ offers a bunch of interesting things such as a customizable interface, file merging and splitting, tabbed browsing, portability, and file date changing.
11. Altap Salamander (Free)
Altap Salamander is a customizable file manager that is a nice choice for network deployment. It supports FTP, FTPS, SFTP, and SCP. Additionally, Altap Salamander supports advanced file management operations such as directory comparison, attribute/date/time editing, and folder size calculation.
12. ExplorerMax (Paid)
Finally, we have ExplorerMax, which is a very neat-looking file manager app. If you hate how other file managers look, the modern and sleek interface of ExplorerMax may be just right for you.
ExplorerMax offers a tabbed interface, dual panes, and ultra-fast search as well. There is also browsing history functionality, which can be super useful if you have hundreds or thousands of files to keep track of.