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Last post Author Topic: xplorer², a powerful windows file manager and explorer replacement / alternative  (Read 68953 times)

mitzevo

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Basic Info
App Namexplorer² [pro] (a.k.a xplorer2, x2, x²)
App URLhttp://www.zabkat.com
App Version Reviewed1.7.0.4 [Unicode] (30.Jun.07)
Test System SpecsWindows XP, 60GB HD, 1GB RAM, P4 4GHz
Supported OSesWindows 9x, ME, NT4, 2000, XP, 2003, and Vista (!)
Support MethodsEmail support. Also has a large active user forum
Upgrade Policy"Although there is no explicit "free for life" upgrade policy for xplorer2,
all upgrades were free since 2004. At any rate I wouldn't base my selection
on the future so much as on what the software can do *now* to help me with
my file management tasks"
Trial Version Available?Yes - 21 day trial
Pricing Scheme$29.95 - 1 User License
Review Author Donation LinkClick Here to Donate Now
Screencast Video URLscreencasts and screenshots of xplorer² in action doing various operations.. check these out!
DisclaimerI am not affilaited with Zabkat, and this is a genuine review.

I did however email x²'s author and ask if I could get a discount.. (of course I had good reasons :P).. He said if I write a review or recommend x² to some  family members or friends that I could get a free copy.. so..

As a reviewer of this program, I received a free copy of it for my own personal use. Either way, it was on my "to buy" software list (this is very new for me, lol :P)and I would have writen a review on DC regardless if I had gotten it free or purchased it ;)


Intro
xplorer² (x² from now on) is a windows based file manager. What exactly is a file manager? A file manager is some thing you use to arrange and organize your (computer) files.. If you are using Windows you are probably familiar with Windows Explorer - the stocked file manager that comes with windows.. it is heavily integrated in to the windows system. You may know from usage of Windows explorer is that is a) too slow, b) missing a lot of functions and c) lacking great customization - such as being able to hilite certain file types, save layouts, adding toolbars, etc.

Welcome to x²! One of the first things you will notice with x² is that it has 2 panes (2 window areas you can work with - at the same time).
2 panes you say? Yup, 2 panes.. you would be amazed at how much of a time saver this is when working between many folders.. Instead of switching between 2 or more Window Explorer windows, you can be in one x² window, working with folders side by side.. drag and drop (as well as cut and paste) operations are so much faster and easier!

x² can also use tabs.. Just like FireFox can have many tabs under one window/instance.. x² can have many tabs open on each pane.. take a look at the following screenshots to see what I mean:

Screenshot - 8_8_2007 , 9_47_18 PM.pngxplorer², a powerful windows file manager and explorer replacement / alternative Screenshot - 8_8_2007 , 10_00_23 PM.pngxplorer², a powerful windows file manager and explorer replacement / alternative Screenshot - 8_8_2007 , 10_05_01 PM.pngxplorer², a powerful windows file manager and explorer replacement / alternative Screenshot - 8_8_2007 , 10_40_41 PM.pngxplorer², a powerful windows file manager and explorer replacement / alternative Screenshot - 8_8_2007 , 10_45_26 PM.pngxplorer², a powerful windows file manager and explorer replacement / alternative
(you can choose to have the panes show in vertical or horizontal alignment/tililing - you'll find this option in the..  Window options! :) (tools > options)
(you can also hide/show the tree, quickview, mini-scrap, toolbars/buttons, with hotkeys)
 
If you don't like using tabs for file based management.. don't use them. I can say the same for dual panes, if you don't like them or aren't comfortable with them at first, you can turn dual panes of and just stick to the single pane for the time being.

These two features alone speed up so many tasks... not to mention, x² is pretty fast at working, you don't get a huge footprint in your memory. Take a look at these results (memory usage, indexing speeds, etc.)  against other similar file managers: xplorer² blog: objectively superior file manager? x² is only around 800kb in size!

Next feature I would like to talk about is the "Breadcrumbs". If you don't know what breadcrumbs are, like are like an indication of your current location within a website or, in this case, computer. x²'s breadcrumbs are very nice..  all you need to do is click on the folder you want to go to! Check out the following screenshot:

Screenshot - 8_12_2007 , 7_14_26 PM copy.pngxplorer², a powerful windows file manager and explorer replacement / alternative

Scrap Containers and the mini scrap,
Scrap containers are kind of like virtual folders where you can put files/folders from different locations (not move them or copy them, but point to them)  to do operations on.. For example, you can drag files from c:\abc, c:\abc\xyz, and c:\noop into a scrap container, and they will appear under the one folder/container (in a new window/instance of x2 if you like) so you can do tasks on them such as sorting, renaming, zipping, etc.

The mini-scrap,
The mini-scrap is just a small scrap container that sits under the Folder tree in the main x2 window (when active) .. you can drag any thing (program shortucts; so you have a quick way to launch your programs, folders/files; so you can perform operations on them more easily, without having to physically move all the folders/files, etc.

Screenshot - 8_12_2007 , 6_51_26 PM.pngxplorer², a powerful windows file manager and explorer replacement / alternative

Customizable user interface,
x² is highly configurable, you can show/hide toolbars, create your own toolbars,  customize detail view columns (name, size, etc.), hilite/color code certain file types, bookmark most used places for quicker/instant access.. and of course you can assign shortcuts/hot keys to most of the operations x² can do.

Update: as of the latest beta, you are now able to change icons for toolbar items.. Great! Many people who like a bit of style will love this.. Also the default x² toolbar icons can be skinned as well.. if you didn't like them :) I know I didn't.


Some other big features,
Power searching functions: Search for files everywhere, using arbitrary criteria. Find text within office, Adobe PDF and other documents.

Keyboard and Color customization,
Shortcuts, shortcuts, shortcuts, x² has a ton of shortcuts, and there's also a ton of shortcuts you could define yourself if you wanted to ;)  x² uses shortcuts for pretty much all of its functions.

Who is this app designed for
This app. is for people who are constantly working with files on a Windows computer, people who need a break from Windows Explorer and people who need some motivation to keep their computers organized.. :)

Basically it's for people who need a powerful file manager, with just enough features, to use on a Windows computer.


The Good
+Tabbed dual-pane interface  - faster and easier file management!

+Solid breadcrumbs - 1 or 2 clicks can get you to any folder on your computer!

+Very customizable: layouts, columns, bookmarks, toolbars, shortcuts,.. color coding, and now custom icons - you can customize x2 to the max!

+Powerful searching features: search files by properties like size, name, extension, date modified, (using boolen). Search for text inside pfd, word documents, etc.

+Quick Preview - instantly preview many file types within x².

+Scrap containers/mini scrap

+Execute DOS commands and scripts: run DOS commands directly from x²'s address bar.

+lots and lots of other handy features and functions such as file shredding, pasting directory structures with out files, making junction points,
check for duplicates, split & merge files, mirror browsing, compare folders, etc.

+Calculate sub-folder size in detail view.

+Icon overlay support (SVN, etc.)

+Unicode support; supports many languages!  :Thmbsup:

Needs Improvement
I haven't used it that long to say what needs improvement but one thing that I am not fond of is the item selections.. some times the lines aren't being redrawn/refreshed so you can see old lines, etc - just a simple thing :)

Update: (27th Jan 2008), I have been using x² for a while now, one thing that I would like to see is the system tray icon have some left/right click options.. Perhaps some usual options like "Exit x²" (well *at least* an exit option), "Stay On Top / Always On Top", etc.

What about single left click brings x² up from the tray instead of double.. Should be options for these small things :'(

A global hot key to bring x² up!

Also, I would like the window name to show just "x² - " not "xplorer ² - " as it it takes up too much room when the prog is minimized.


Why I think you should use this product
I think you should use (and support!) this program if you like it.. because, it really is worth it.. File management is so much easier with this power tool.
The quickstart guide is nicely written and documents most of x²'s functions & uses (much more than what I've briefly discussed). The x² community have also written a pdf manual for x² - this is available free (you get it with the help file & quickstart guide..)

The program is simple and easy to use, very customizable as I have previously said.


How does it compare to similar apps
There are quite a lot of other file managers for Windows, things that set x² apart from those are its cool breadcrumbs, tabbed dual-pane interface, powerful searching engine, scrap containers.


Conclusion
xplorer² pro is a very good windows explorer alternative/replacement, reducing a lot of your time by helping you to do file tasks quickly, and efficiently. I have only touched on a few features of x² here, mostly the ones I'm using, there are many more to be discovered, in fact what I've gone through is only the very tip of the iceberg.. a lot of people (like myself) find great needed and wanted features while exploring for them self what x² can do..

I give xplorer² [pro] a solid rating of 9/10  :Thmbsup:


Other reviews of this application
can be found on the x2 website, here

Resources:
http://www.zabkat.com - Official xplorer² homepage
http://zabkat.com/x2facts.htm - many screencasts and screenshots of xplorer² in action doing various operations.. check these out!
http://zabkat.com/blog/index.htm - Official blog, of xplorer²'s developer - contains helpful articles on using xplorer², as well as tips and tricks
http://netez.com/bbs/index.php?c=4 - Official xplorer² forums (also has sub forums for other products, such as the freeware version of xplorer² and older products (although not being updated any more.).

The forums are very active with tips and tricks on how to better customize/arrange xplorer² to your likings. A few people seem to be making extra plugins/extensions to add *more* abilities .. Just when you thought it had ended ;)

Screenshot Captor, an award-winning screenshot capturing program. - Used to make the screen shots in this review ;)

This was my 200th post.. I've been with DC for a year now.. and I've always found myself comming/referring back to the site, reviews, forums, etc. for many tasks. :)


edit: Added some updates regarding "Needs Improvement" and the custom icon and default toolbar skin support :) and today I made my 300th post.. :)
The clock is running. Make the most of today. Time waits for no man. Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That's why it is called the present.
« Last Edit: January 27, 2008, 02:55:07 AM by mitzevo »


mitzevo

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oh shut up you  :-[
* mitzevo pokes wordzilla with a stick

j/k

:D ;D

if any one has any thing else to add about this great program, post it up here! (such as your favorite features/functions).
The clock is running. Make the most of today. Time waits for no man. Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That's why it is called the present.
« Last Edit: August 12, 2007, 02:25:09 PM by mitzevo »

mouser

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great mini-review mitz  :up: :up:

jgpaiva

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Great minireview, mitzevo!!

A way to improve it:
Here go my favourite features in XY. Could you compare them to X2?

  • colour extensions: different extensions get different colours
  • grid look: the list can be configured in a zebra-like grid so that it's easier to see all the columns of an item
  • autosize columns: when you move from one folder to another, all the coluns are resized so that their contents fit the screen
  • custumizable keyboard shortcuts - self explanatory :P
I also love the fact that ctrl-p copies the path of the selected file to the clipboard

mitzevo

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Hey jgpaiva,

I'll be glad to do a comparison:

Quote
colour extensions: different extensions get different colours

If this means what I think it does, yup, you can specify which files to be color coded.. by what ever filters you set in the Color Coding dialog.

Now I noticed with XYplorer that the color coding options are not as customizable.. In x² you can color code any file type as well as any file that fits some attribute/property.. such as being hidden, being a system file, containing some text.. there are many of these attributes/properties you can set, they are boolean values.

I also noticed you have more color customization with x², you can choose the background color AND the foreground as well as make the hilited item appear in bold face.


Customizable keyboard shortcuts,

yes x² is very customizable, ALT-C in x² is the equivilant to XYplorer's CTRL+P (what copies the file path to the clipboard) ;) To see the key mappings in x², go to "Customize > Keyboard use..."

Quote
grid look: the list can be configured in a zebra-like grid so that it's easier to see all the columns of an item
If this also means what I think it does, yup, you can turn on
"grid lines in detailed mode" in Tools > Options > Window.

Although, there is no "zebra striping" option. Although I'm sure the author of x²  could add alternating backgrounds for each list item quite easily if needed or requested :) As a matter of fact, the alternating colors do make a hell of a difference, maybe I might request this feature (if not already requested).

Autosize Columns
Yes, x² has an "autosize columns" in the View menu.. You can also save column groups/sets so you can switch between different ones for different folders.

I think that's all  ;D

The clock is running. Make the most of today. Time waits for no man. Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That's why it is called the present.
« Last Edit: August 12, 2007, 02:48:58 PM by mitzevo »

jgpaiva

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Thanks a lot mitzevo!
Then i think i should also have a look at X2 :)

Ampa

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I own a license for Xplorer² and don't realise just how much I love it, until I use a machine without it installed!

My girlfriend's laptop has UltraExplorer which is good, and free, but it just ain't quite Xplorer2!

Darwin

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Nice review, mitzeo - congratulations! The File Management market is very competitive with both shareware and freeware alternatives available. xplorer2 looks very nice - solid.
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

urlwolf

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Nice review Mitz!

somebody needs to do a review of TC.
I just got it, so I'm not ready. But I did move from dopus to TC, and I think TC is king!

Darwin

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Nice review Mitz!

somebody needs to do a review of TC.
I just got it, so I'm not ready. But I did move from dopus to TC, and I think TC is king!


Heresy! OK, maybe I'm overreacting, but when you make a comment like that, urlwolf, you'd better back it up with a review!

EDIT: couldn't wait - downloaded and installed a trial. Wow. Quite impressed. I love how simple the interface is... Normally at this point I'd uninstall it (afterall, I have current licences for DOpus 9, XYPlorer, AccelMan, and DiskJockey - hasn't been installed in a couple of years - so have no need for another file manager), but Total Commander is enough fun that I'm interested in playing around with it some more.
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin
« Last Edit: August 12, 2007, 08:06:36 PM by Darwin »

f0dder

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I love xplorerer2, ordered it quite a while ago :)
- carpe noctem

mitzevo

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Darwin,

How many file managers do you need!?  ;D You have DOpus, XYplorer, and.. more? lol. I still want to try DOpus ('cuz every one says it's so great and yadda yadda ya..), and TC.. they seem to be well known and liked by a lot of ppl.
The clock is running. Make the most of today. Time waits for no man. Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That's why it is called the present.

f0dder

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I never really understood the fuzz about TC, it seems to have some very die-hard followers, but the program itself? *shrug*.

What I personally love about xplorer2 is it's simplicity, yet feature-richness. It's great it supports both dual- and single-pane views, can almost function 100% as an explorer replacement (it has problems with a very few special locations, like "network connections"), and is lightning fast.

It also has pretty configurable color coding:
colorcoding.pngxplorer², a powerful windows file manager and explorer replacement / alternative
- carpe noctem

edbro

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I also am back to xplorer2 after switching to Vista. It is fully compatible and I could not afford the too steep price of updating my DirOpus. My only regret here is that I bought the professional version. Months later I realize that I really only use the functionality of the freeware version. Oh well, at least the price was reasonable and, at least for now, the upgrades are free.

Darwin

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Darwin,

How many file managers do you need!?  ;D You have DOpus, XYplorer, and.. more? lol. I still want to try DOpus ('cuz every one says it's so great and yadda yadda ya..), and TC.. they seem to be well known and liked by a lot of ppl.


You can never have enough File Managment...   ;D I only use DOpus. I purchased DOpus first, then DiskJockey (to get the Stellent viewers - hadn't heard of QuickView Plus at the time and Yahoo Desktop Search wasn't available), then XYPlorer. I bought XYPlorer for it's abiltity to run from USB and lifetime licence and I like it! Of course, very soon thereafter DOpus 9 came out with USB capabilities. I keep XYPlorer around and use it occasionally. I've removed TC from my system since my last post because I'm not going to buy it and I don't need it, nice though it may be!

PS I also have about 30 watches and 20 Fountain Pens - I'm a bit OC about things that I like...  :o
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

urlwolf

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If I could justify writing a post on it, I'll convince a bunch of people to move from Dopus to TC. BUt I can't right now, sorry...

Darwin

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If I could justify writing a post on it, I'll convince a bunch of people to move from Dopus to TC. BUt I can't right now, sorry...

No worries, urlwolf. I understand. I'm in thesis write up hell at the moment and keep dropping in here to get away from it. I don't have the time to write up anything very considered, either (does it show?! :P).
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

Darwin

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Dang! I've been taking a look at xplorer2 and I'm wishing I had an excuse to download it and try it out (I don't!). MUST - MOVE - AWAY - FROM - THE - LIGHT. Oh crap, my PhD is calling me. She's a tough mistress (but not much of a temptress)...
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

f0dder

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And here's another little teaser, I quite like the elegance of my xplorer2 setup :)
xplorer2.pngxplorer², a powerful windows file manager and explorer replacement / alternative
- carpe noctem

mitzevo

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Well today I tried TC.. I wasn't impressed.. The interface resembles Win 3.1 - some thing historical.
Sure, it has a lot of followers, and is probably very fast and powerful, but still, not my cup of hot chocolate..

I had a quick look at the options/functions/features of TC.. x² seems to cover most of them that I saw

TC looks pretty awful  :o compared to x², but of course never judge a book by its cover.. nor a program by it's interface (in most cases..) ;)

Check the following post to see how x², DOpus and TC compare with a few things:
xplorer² blog: objectively superior file manager?
The clock is running. Make the most of today. Time waits for no man. Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That's why it is called the present.

f0dder

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Well, you can tweak TC to make it prettier, appearantly... but the default is goddamn ugly indeed. It's probably all-powerful etc., but x^2 does all I need and feels a bit more modern.
- carpe noctem

Darwin

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Ha, ha... I liked the look of TC... Of course, the font used is a bit dated looking, but it didn't bother me. i presume that that can be changed in the options/preferences/settings dialogue.
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

iphigenie

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I like it that TC is very easy to use on keyboard only - i'm sure the others do to, but I have been using TC since, well, 1995 I think. I'm used to it.

alxwz

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Regarding xplorer^2 for thumbdrive, there was a lot of discussion in the zabkat forums, and last time I looked,  the developer had finally (kind of) given in and offered a special build to registered customers that would be able to run on a thumbdrive, for $ 10 extra, IIRC. But it was non-upgradeable and you had to request a new one when a new version of x2 was released. He didn't specify how many of those hand-made upgrades you could get for free.
I was tempted to order one (I bought x2 a while ago when it was on discount here) because XY still does not support dual panes and x2 looks like a great solution for a thumbdrive.
However, I always found x2's find and sync features confusing and couldn't find my way around there very well.

So I use DOpus most of the time (but don't feel the urge to pay the steep upgrade price from 8 to 9).

It's a pity that at the same time a thumbdrive-capaple version of DOpus was released they pulled the Win98 version. I admit, though, that there aren't many Win 98 machines around any more and most of them aren't ready for USB mass storage devices.

Oh, I forgot: My current solution for my thumbdrive is TC.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2007, 10:02:08 AM by alxwz »