While we wait for Microsoft to deliver a modern Windows Explorer, an alternative app is already available on the official store and on GitHub. The program is called Files, and is an open source application.
Files has a beautiful interface that follows the Fluent Design, and is reminiscent of the Settings app. The GUI has a sidebar to the left while the pane on the right lists the user folders: Desktop, Downloads, Documents, Pictures, Music and Videos.
The Drives section lists all available storage devices, and shows the amount of free space available along with the total capacity. The files that you accessed are displayed under “Recent Items”, you can right-click on an item to remove it from the list or clear the entire list. The toolbar at the top of the pane resembles a web browser’s navigation controls. It has 4 options back, forward, Up one level, and refresh.
The best part of the Files app is that it is a tabbed file manager. Hit Ctrl + T or click on the + button at the top of the window, to open a new tab. Ctrl + N opens a new window. Right-click on a tab in the tab bar to move it to a new window, duplicate the tab or to open a new tab. I clicked the words “New Tab” on the main screen, until I realized it is actually the address bar. In my opinion, it should read “Home” to avoid the confusion. There are three columns that you can toggle: Date Modified, Type and Size.
The file copy paste operations have a minor issue. If a file already exists, the program offers to generate a new name or replace the existing one. But there is no “replace all” button, which makes it a bit annoying if you’re pasting several files.
Files has a proper right-click menu with many options, including a Copy Location menu item. The program does not come with a built-in file extractor, and relies on Explorer’s archiver for ZIP files. The context menu has an animation for sub-menus, which make them appear after a slight delay and fall like a window curtain. The side- bar has shortcuts to OneDrive, the Recycle Bin and your User Folders.
Click on the Settings button in the bottom right corner to access Files’ options. The app has a Dark theme and a Light theme, both of which look well-designed.
Set the starting page of the file manager from the “On Startup” tab, you can choose from opening a new tab, restore the previous session, or open a custom directory.
Head to the multitasking view to adjust the layout resizing settings. More importantly, this section has an option to toggle Dual Pane View.
This is disabled by default, as is the option that opens new tabs in Dual Pane View. Enable both settings, go to the main screen and open a new tab, and you can use Files in Dual Pane View.
The program was in beta for a long time before it graduated to version 1.0 recently. The app uses about 150MB of RAM, but the CPU usage tends to spike between 10 – 20% whenever you switch folders. I also found the browsing experience slower than Windows Explorer, probably due to the CPU stutters, especially when browsing large directories. If you’re looking for a Total Commander alternative, give File Commander a shot, it’s open source and light on resources.