Supercharge Windows File Management with Listary

How often do you come across an idea that seems pretty unnecessary, but quickly becomes such a habit that you can’t imagine having ever lived without it? Remember how we used to communicate before cell phones, for example?

Along those same lines is Listary, an awesome little app that will supercharge your Windows file management operations to the point where you will wonder how you ever survived without it!

Do I Really Need A File Management App?

For most of us who have been using Windows for a few years, the file management workflow feels pretty streamlined. You launch Windows Explorer every time you want to open a file or folder. Trying to open a file from inside an application? Simply navigate to the right folder and select the file.

What if I told you that all those steps were one too many? That there was a way to make any file open/save dialog immensely more usable and file selection more optimized? That you don’t need to navigate to your project folder every single time because Microsoft Word keeps insisting that you save files in the “My Documents” folder?

Interface

The core Listary functionality comes in the form of a tiny little bar that is most visible at the bottom of typical Windows Open/Save dialog boxes. The bar contains three buttons – favorites, recent folders & a smart list – and a search bar towards the right. You can easily bring this up by hitting the Win+W keys in pretty much any file list in Windows, including Windows Explorer, your desktop or even the task manager.

For me, the task manager one comes in most handy because there doesn’t seem to be any better way to find an app or service in there other than hunting for it in the seemingly endless list.

The Listary toolbar

The Listary toolbar

Hit the smart list icon and you get a bunch of commands and a link to Listary’s Options dialog. You can also decide to disable Listary for a specific application if it feels like getting in the way of what you want to do.

File Selection Enhancements

Listary’s primary feature is its ability to let you quickly select a file in any listing – Windows Explorer, open/save dialog box or even the desktop – without having to scroll through and find the exact filename. Simply start typing any part of the filename and Listary will quickly bring up a list of possible entities as you type. Sure, Windows will let you type the first couple of letters and select the first file that meets the criteria by itself, but how often do you know the exact filename to do this?

Listary will search for the key combinations in any file or folder name in the list, irrespective of its position in the name. So if you were looking for that proposal that you named ‘acme_design_proposal_v2.79_latest.pdf’ and forgot, just typing ‘propo’ should be more than enough for Listary.

The fuzzy filename search

The fuzzy filename search

Not sure if you’re looking in the right place? Listary will also look for those words in the most recently used folders, not just in the one you have open at the moment. For often used locations, you can even add them to as ‘favorites’ so that they always show up in the auto-complete list. No more messing around with the folder tree to go to my projects folder every time I want to save a document.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve simply typed a ‘proj’ to quickly jump to my project folder when saving documents that Word & PowerPoint insist on saving in ‘My Documents’.

Way Smarter Open/Save Dialogs

There are two distinct places where you fiddle around with files & folders most – Windows Explorer (or any other replacement app you might be using) and the Open/Save dialog boxes in applications. Wouldn’t it be awesome if they both were smart enough to know where the other was and fall in line?

Let’s say you are working on Word document and need to save it in the Acme project folder that you have open in Windows Explorer. Typically you would hit save, navigate to that folder in the Save dialog and then hit ‘Save’. Of, if you were like me, you would copy the folder path from Explorer and paste it in the Save dialog.

How about simply pressing a hotkey (Ctrl+G in this case) in the Save dialog to directly switch to the folder that was last opened in Windows Explorer? That’s the power of Listary for you.

Quick-switch between Windows Explorer and Open/Save dialogs

Quick-switch between Windows Explorer and Open/Save dialogs

It doesn’t stop there, of course. Just switching (Alt+Tabbing, if you will) from an Open/Save dialog to Windows Explorer and back will switch to that folder automatically. If you have already been sold on alternate file managers like Total Commander or xplorer2, don’t worry, Listary plays nice with those as well.

The smart list also contains a pop-out menu that lists open folders in all file manager applications on your pc. My only gripe with this currently is that Listary does not support my file management app of choice – FreeCommander – very well yet. But I believe they’re working on that as we speak.

The Smart Commands and Currently Open Folders list

The Smart Commands and Currently Open Folders list

A Tad Overwhelming

Its power – the sheer number of features – is also its biggest irritant, unfortunately. It’s sometime hard to remember everything the app can do for you, and is therefore a bit frustrating at times. Don’t get me wrong — you could simply use the file selection enhancements and be perfectly satisfied with having Listary run in the background eating up a couple megs of RAM.

I did for a good few months. But to really appreciate everything it can do for you, there is a bit of a learning curve you need to give in to before you can remember it all and make the most of the power available.

Even More with Pro

It is worth noting that all I have spoken about till now is part of the free version of Listary. The Pro version, which will set you back by $19.95, comes with even more awesomeness.

The Pro version brings with it the ability to categorize your favorites into sub-menus, select or open last saved files automatically (taking things a step beyond ‘recent folders’), create advanced custom commands to go with the existing set or even use regex to fine-tune your file search on the fly.

Conclusion

Whether you go for the free version of the paid one, there is no doubt that Listary will change the way you work with files and folders in Windows for good.

And it will get you addicted to the extent that going back will feel like a huge step backwards in usability. In my books, it is a must-have app for anyone. And fortunately one that just keeps getting better.


Summary

Listary is a tiny app that sits in the background and jumps up when you need it to quickly pinpoint files in a list or make Windows Explorer and Open/Save dialog boxes play nicely with each other. It is one of those how-did-I-ever-live-without-this apps that's hard to let go of once you've figured it out.

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