Top Five Free File Managers for Windows

Windows File Explorer tends to be unwieldy to use, and even inconvenient at times – especially when you have to resort to opening two Explorer windows in order to drag files between them. There are a number of dual-pane alternatives, any one of which can become your default application for faster and easier file management. The five best are compared here in no particular order.


Multi Commander


The dual-pane Multi Commander interface is multi-tabbed for fast navigation of multiple directories. This free file manager provides a range of features beyond the standard move, copy, rename, and view. You can Auto-unpack, edit the Registry and access FTP. Auto-sorting, searching and viewing files, browsing archives, caching, and built-in scripting allow you to further increase its functionality. It even comes in a portable version that you can carry with you.

  • Efficient File Management – open multiple folders, caching, filtering, drag and drop, keyboard commands, view and change permissions.
  • Advanced Management – plug-ins to automatically sort and unpack moved or copied files, MultiRename tool for renaming multiple files and folders that includes an Undo function, a file view for viewing files of various formats and size using minimal memory.
  • Customizable – layout and colors to meet individual needs, script engine, plug-ins and extensions, and open API.
  • Multimedia – image viewer and tools, movie file information, MP3 tag editing.

Multi Commander supports Windows XP/Vista/7/8/10 (32-Bit/64-Bit).


FreeCommander XE


FreeCommander XE allows you to go dual-pane (horizontal or vertical) or single pane. Either way, a folder tree provides easy navigation and tabs are supported. The powerful search engine can be used to search both folders and archives. Images and files – in hex, binary or text format – can be viewed in the built-in file viewer, even those in ZIP archives. Plug-ins are available for other archive files.

The free file manager has a multi-rename tool and wipe capability. A host of other tools let you compare and synchronize folders, calculate their size and split large files for easy sharing. You can create favorites and filters for quick viewing, and you have access to a DOS command line.

Available to install and start automatically, or as a portable application to save to a USB stick and take with you, FreeComander supports for all common Windows keyboard shortcuts. There is multi-language support and Windows XP and up (32 or 64 bit), 2 GB RAM,100 MB hard disk memory and 1024×768 display resolution are required.




The Quad Explorer, Q-dir is a simple, uncluttered file manager providing up to four file panes and tabbed browsing. Work on multiple directories at the same time but switch back to two panes and book-marking if you prefer.

The application launches as four panels, and this format necessitates small navigation icons, but a link to a screen magnifier is included. This is more than made up for by the ability to view and compare the properties of up to four files side-by-side. Each contains run, delete, copy, and paste commands.

Drag and drop files between panes, view the contents of ZIP files, export file/folder lists as TXT, HTML, XLS or CSV. You can also highlight file types, preview images and, if you type into the address bar, suggestions are made. You can FTP from the free application, for which both installable and portable versions are available.


xPlorer2 Lite


Billing itself as having ‘all the shell goodies from Windows Explorer and none of the hassle‘, the xPlorer2 Lite free file manager provides dual panes and folder tabs for far more efficient management of your files and folders. Free for home and academic use, the advantages of the easy file management system include:

  • Side by side views and easy drag and drop
  • Browsing throughout all drives
  • Previewing of image, document, music and video files
  • Synchronizing folders
  • Using wildcards to filter and select files

xPlorer² Lite ships in several languages and you can select which to use during the installation process and it is compatible with all versions of Windows.




While it has many additional purposes, the file management functions of the open source application TagSpaces let you organize files on their various drives through custom file tagging. File-tagging in different colors, groups or names is effected based on entirely personal preferences.

At launch, the program takes you on a tour of its main features after which you are able to add specific locations (paths to files) for processing. Options for displaying files include list form and thumbnails, etc. which you define in the application settings. There are three panes in the interface – the middle pane shows the files in a given folder, with a preview of a double-clicked file in the right-hand pane. The various tags are in the left-hand panel for simple drag and drop operation.

Searches are possible for both files and tags, and all basic file management tools are available – create, move, rename and delete. TagSpaces for Windows requires Windows 7, 8 or 10, 2GB RAM, 120 MB hard-disk space and 1280 x 800 minimum display resolution.


If there’s a free file manager that you recommend, let us know in the comment section.