For day to day tasks Windows Explorer gets the job done, but it is far from being the most versatile file manager that’s available. If you spend a good proportion of your time working with files – organizing them, backing them up, searching, etc – you’ll quickly find that Explorer leaves a lot to be desired.
There is a burgeoning market for Explorer replacement tools, and the use of the word ‘market’ should come as an indication that many of these tools come at a price. The same cannot be said of FileMind (for the time-being, at least) which is an astonishingly good file manger which I wanted to share with you.
Anyone looking for a replacement for Explorer is almost spoiled for choice, but many of the plentiful Explorer alternatives are either too complicated to make them practical for day to day use, or too expensive to justify. FileMind takes something of a new approach to file management, particularly when it comes to accessing the files you want to work with.
Testing The Software
You can try out the beta version of FileMind by paying a visit to the program web site. Click the Get It tab at the top of the page and then you’ll find the download link – grab yourself a copy of the setup file and run through the installation. Fire up the app from the desktop or Start menu shortcut and you’ll be greeted by the clean interface of FileMind complete with shortcuts to all of your attached drives.
The program window is made up of five distinct areas, and in many respects the app is comparable to a web browser. At the top of the screen you’ll find the address bar which not only shows your current location but also doubles up as a search bar. Beneath this are shortcuts to drives and then the favorites bar, just like in a web browser.
The main body of the window shows the contents of the currently selected folder, and to the right of the interface are a series of filters that can be used to drill down to particular files – more on this later.
Working With FileMind
Browsing through folder with FileMind is much the same as in Explorer – just double click to open. As you open files, the size of their text labels increases to make frequently used files easier to access, and your most recently accessed file is highlighted with an orange dot to make it easier to identify.
If there are any folders that you access more than other, you can drag and drop them to the favorites bar so you always have a shortcut available wherever you may be. Having created these shortcuts, you can right click them to give them new, shorter names (so you can cram more in) and remove any that you later change your mind about.
FileMind has a feel very much like a web browser, and this extends to the Back and Forward buttons next to the ‘address bar’.
Where FileMind really excels is file searches and these can be carried out in a number of ways. It has now become a standard features of web browser to combine the address bar and search bar into one multi-function location; the same is true of this app.
You can perform a search for any files you are looking for by simply clicking in the address bar and starting to type. Live results are shown in a drop down menu and as soon as you see what you are looking for, whether it is a file or a folder, you can click it to open it.
The panel to the right of the program window allows for an interesting way of filtering and searching your files. You should find that the panel is filled with tags at all time, but should you open a folder and find that these disappear, just click the Enable Search button to get it back.
One of the reasons FileMind is able to perform searches as quickly as it does is down to the fact that it has already indexed the contents of your drives. The metadata that is generated from this indexing allows for fast filtering of files and folders through the use of clickable tags – if you want to see all of the music files in the current folder, just click the Music tag.
You can also filter files by date or file extension. When you have filtered file results displayed you can then further drill down to what you are looking for by typing keywords in the Filter box at the bottom of the screen.
It’s worth bearing in mind that FileMind is beta software so you should not expect it to be perfect. It succeeds the alpha version – which was called 7files – and makes vast improvements in many areas, but there is still a little way to go. This is an app that prides itself on perform, and while it’s already reasonably quick, you can expect to see great strides made forward in this area in future releases.
How do you manage your files in Windows? Do you find that Explorer does the job well enough or have you sought out something more powerful? Where do you find that Explorer is lacking? Let us know your hints and tips in the comments below.