I'm still refusing to go to Windows Vista and now Windows 7 mainly due to the windows explorer, I find it cumbersome and hard to use exclusively with a keyboard.

I use XP file explorer in the most basic view, the address bar at the top and files always in list view underneath.

The reason I do this is because I'm almost blind and do everything from the keyboard and don't touch the mouse whilst navigating through files, this is because I can type "L[ENTER]D[Enter]B[Enter]" and know that I'm in "c:\documents and settings\Brett Ryan", and I can hit [Tab] once to go to the address bar to type in a folder.

Can anyone suggest a replacement for windows explorer that brings back this basic navigational behavior?

  • there are many 'Windows Explorer' replacements but they all want to shine with more, better features and i don't think you're looking for complexity here. i'm using Total Commander myself because i much prefer the keyboard (although by choice) and hardly ever use the mouse. but it is entirely different to what you are used to. – Molly7244 Sep 12 '09 at 23:56

Have you considered using Total Commander? It's a bit different from Windows Explorer, but you can use it entirely with a keyboard, its interface is fully customizable (color scheme, font size, type and color), you have a sort of command prompt, you can create folders just by pressing F7, you can preview files with F3 (there are plugins for Total Commander that allow you to open nearly every filetype you might need, from photos to music).

You can also use it with a tree structure for folders, similar to Explorer. I use it daily at work, and it saves me from a lot of trips to the mouse :)

  • That sounds promising, I'll give it a try at work tomorrow, I'm a mac user at home so will have to see, thanks for that Alex. – Brett Ryan Sep 14 '09 at 12:40
  • I use it both at home and at work. On a Mac I feel like I've lost something... I've searched for an alternative, but nothing came close :). – alex Sep 14 '09 at 12:42
  • @Molly It's hard not to be on the same page as you on this one :) – alex Sep 15 '09 at 4:42
  • Total Commander looks great and reminds me a LOT of midnight commander, I wonder which came first :) To tell you the truth I use search on the mac most of the time because it works, with windows it seems to take 15+ seconds to find anything. – Brett Ryan Sep 15 '09 at 10:23
  • Seems both were modelled off norton commander en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Midnight_commander – Brett Ryan Sep 15 '09 at 10:26

Try hitting Alt+[Up Key]. That works for me to move up to the parent directory in explorer.

  • Ah, so it does, thanks, just the same as on the mac [APPLE+UP], now how do you get it to tab (only twice) between the address bar and the file list? And also, the most annoying. How do you stop the view from changing to random views all the time? [icon, tile, large icon...] – Brett Ryan Sep 12 '09 at 22:03
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    Unfortunately, I don't have a Windows 7/ Vista box handy at the moment so I can't test this, but does F6 still cycle between the address bar and file list as it does on previous versions? – Ken Keenan Sep 12 '09 at 22:32
  • Yes, F6 cycles between the address bar, the 'menu' bar, favourites area, folder list, file list headers and file list. For the views, if you get the curent folder in to the view you want, then go into the Organize menu, Folder and Search Options, View Tab and click the Apply to Folders button, it should get some way to getting all folders the same view. – GAThrawn Sep 13 '09 at 11:58
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    If it helps, "Alt+D" jumps to the address bar, as in most web browsers. – Reuben Sep 13 '09 at 20:46
  • Windows never seems to remember when I "apply to all folders" it gets a little forgetful, I'm just after something that's really basic that I only have to hit tab (or any other key) once to switch between the address and the list. – Brett Ryan Sep 14 '09 at 12:39

One tip, in Windows 7, if you want to get right to a directory, just hit the Windows key and start typing your path. Press and Windows Explorer will pop up in that path.

  • that's good, but if your navigating through source code you don't want to open multiple windows. Windows XP bound [Backspace] to the "Parent Directory", but now backspace goes "back in history" with Win7/Vista. – Brett Ryan Sep 12 '09 at 21:49
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    alt+up is parent in Vista. – Phoshi Sep 12 '09 at 21:55
  • I love the libraries feature of win7 -- really helps getting to code quicker. – bryanbcook Sep 12 '09 at 21:59
  • Libraries requires the use of a mouse, I have trouble using the mouse because of my eyes I don't see the pointer all that well. – Brett Ryan Sep 12 '09 at 22:13

ZTreeWin is text-mode, tree-structured file/directory manager. It can be far more effective for getting things done than Windows Explorer, with only a few easily learnt keystrokes.

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    Hi there Rob, now that's something I had nearly forgotten about, it still works on XP and above? I miss the old XTree Gold days :) – Brett Ryan Sep 14 '09 at 12:41
  • Version 2 is fine with XP and above, it's just like XTreeGold enhanced for 32-bit Windows. – Rob Kam Sep 14 '09 at 16:04

Pressing Alt+D brings focus to the navigation-bar and selects all text. This way you don't have to keep track of how many times you've pressed Tab or F6.

  • That sounds great Kire, I'll give that a try in the morning at work tomorrow, thankyou. – Brett Ryan Sep 14 '09 at 12:42

Sorry to hear that. I am using Windows 7 RC and it seems to me that the same keyboard shortcuts I use in XP still work. That said, I am not a big Windows Explorer fan either. I use another replacement on my XP machine, but I have not installed it on my Windows 7 machine so I don't know if it will even run. I am trying a freeware file manager I found on download.com. It's called NexusFile V. The home page is http://xiles.net/programs/. I use the mouse more than the keyboard but a quick walk through the settings and you can customize the fonts (including size) and the colors, so you should be able to set it up for high visibility. You can also customer the function key actions so if there is a keyboard shortcut missing you have the possibility of using the function key mapping to add it.


I have Vista and Windows 7 and on both machines, I use XPlorer2. I use the paid version, but the free version has quite a few features that would make anyone wonder why they still use the built-in Windows Explorer.

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