Add an Alternative File Explorer to Windows 10


File Explorer is the file manager included with Windows 10, which this TechJunkie guide covered in more detail. While Microsoft has enhanced it in Windows 10, there’s still more that could be added to File Explorer. There are a few alternative file-management software packages you can add to Windows 10 that include things that aren’t in File Explorer. These are some of the best alternatives to Explorer.


XYplorerFree is a portable file management software package. It has two versions, and you can add the freeware one to Windows 10 from this page. Click the DOWNLOAD tab there to save its Zip file. Then you can run its setup wizard from the Zip without extracting it. When you’ve installed it, open its window in the snapshot below.


The first thing to note about this file management software is that it has folder tabs. Click the New Tab + button on the right of the tab bar to open a tab that you can open another folder in. Then you can open folders in multiple tabs, which is a big advantage compared with File Explorer that still lacks tabs.

Another good thing about XYplorer is its tree window on the left. This highlights your current selected folder path with a green line. You can also customize that line color by pressing F9, selecting Styles and then clicking the Current Tree Path box to open a palette. Choose an alternative color from there and press OK to apply.


The tree window also has a handy Mini Tree option. That option removes all the folder branches from the tree that you haven’t selected in XYplorer. You can click View > Mini Tree to switch on the Mini Tree mode as below.


Also note that this file management software color codes file types. Press the Enable Color Filters button on the toolbar to switch on the color code filters as shown below. These filters highlight txt files green, html files blue, image files purple and audio files orange. You can also customize them by pressing F9 and selecting Color Filters on the Configuration window. Then double-click a filter to open a palette and choose a color for it.

File filter options are also a great addition to the toolbar. Click the arrow beside the Toggle Visual Filter button to open the submenu shown below. Then you can select filters for text, video, audio, image and office files. For example, selecting Image Files will filter out any files in a folder that don’t fit under the image category.


XYplorerFree tells you how many of each file type is within a folder. Press the Type Stats and Filter button on the toolbar as below. That opens a small menu that provides details for how many files of each format are included in the folder.


The Duel Pane option on the toolbar also comes in handy. That effectively opens a second folder pane in XYplorerFree. Select a tab and then the Duel Pane button to open the folder in a second pane as shown in the snapshot below.


XYplorerFree is also packed with customization options. Select Tools on the menu bar to open the menu in snapshot directly below. Then you can select Customize Toolbar to add or remove buttons from the toolbar. Alternatively, select Customize List and Customize Tree to further configure the tree window on the left and the file lists.


The Configuration window also has extensive customization options. Press the Configuration button on the toolbar to open it. Then you can customize the colors, fonts, tabs, previews, tags and file operations from that window.


Q-Dir is also a good alternative to File Explorer. The software’s main novelty is that it splits the window into four panes so you can browse folders simultaneously. Click here to open the Q-Dir Softpedia page from which you can save its installer. Then run through the setup wizard to add it to Windows 10, and open the window below.


The window opens with four folder panes open. So you can now open four separate folders in each of the panels. That’s handy when you need to drag files from one folder to another.

At the top of the window there are panel options for you to select. The default arrangement is four, but you can reduce that to three, two or one by selecting the 3-Dir, 2-Dir and 1-Dir buttons as shown in the shot directly below. You can also select tile or vertical panel arrangements.


To add a tree-view sidebar to the left of the window, select Extras and Tree-View. Then you can select One 4 all to add the sidebar to the window below. That’s a tree-view sidebar for all the panels. With that you can open new folders in each panel.


In addition to its panels, Q-Dir includes folder tabs. To open folder tabs, select Edit and Open in new tab. That will then open a new tab in the selected panel as shown in the snapshot below. Then you can right-click a tab to open its context menu, which includes further tab options.


At the bottom of each Q-Dir panel there’s a status bar with some extra options on it. Click the RUN button there to open a menu with a variety of handy system tool shortcuts on it. There you can select to open the Registry Editor, Notepad or Command Prompt. To add more shortcuts to it, press the Add button on the menu. Then press Add again to choose a system tool or software shortcut.

You can also customize the color scheme of Q-Dir by selecting Extras > Colors & Design to open the submenu below. Then you can choose from a variety of alternative background and text colors. For example, a neon color has been selected in the snapshot below. Click Colors on that submenu to open the Options window from which you can further customize the color scheme by selecting a filter and pressing the palette button. 


Both Q-Dir and XYplorerFree make it clear exactly what’s missing from File Explorer. They include numerous options you won’t find in File Explorer. As such, they are both better alternative file managers. 

Posted by Matthew on May 4, 2016

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

TechJunkie Also Recommends