Windows Legacy OS forum

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Can someone recommend a better File Manager?

by El Zagna / May 29, 2008 12:37 AM PDT

This is for Windows XP.

Basically, I would like something that would handle file associations a bit more intuitively than Explorer. For example, I'd like a way to associate all my text files to Notepad++. I'd also like to be able to tweak the right click menu list so that for graphics files I might have a list that would include "Edit in Photoshop", "Edit in Paint", "Open with Windows Picture and Fax Viewer", etc. I'd also like to be able to get rid of some of the menu items that have been added by third party installs.

It would also be nice to be able to handle the different views (details, thumbnails, etc) in different directories in a way that actually works.

The file managers in the CNET download area all seem to have significant problems of their own.

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by Jimmy Greystone / May 29, 2008 2:55 AM PDT

Sadly, what you want is a desktop shell replacement, and there aren't too many of those for Windows.

You can try the KDE distribution for Windows, but I wouldn't expect to much from it to be honest. What you really want, is to switch to using Linux. The Microsoft and Apple philosophy on "user friendly" is usually along the lines of assuming that everyone using the program is a drooling moron with an IQ well below the cutoff for mentally ********. Something hovering a little over brain dead, with only rudimentary cognitive and motor skills, probably not even properly sentient, is their target. So, expecting that kind of flexibility is not likely going to end well for you.

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How hard can it be?
by El Zagna / May 29, 2008 3:26 AM PDT
In reply to: Sadly

I can't imagine that some sort of file management software would be that difficult. After all, it's not unusual for a newly installed app to ask which files types you want associated with the app. I'm pretty sure all this is just kept in the registry somewhere, and there are lots of registry management apps out there.

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You've proved it's not easy.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / May 29, 2008 4:24 AM PDT
In reply to: How hard can it be?

No one can agree what this should be or do. After you paid a programmer to make your custom file browser that you find no one would pay for it. This is partially why the things are the way they are.

For example I like a file browser to be a file browser. Gyula's Navigator does that and only that. Sometimes you want the unadulterated view.

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Harder than you may think
by Jimmy Greystone / May 29, 2008 5:42 AM PDT
In reply to: How hard can it be?

It's harder than you may think. First you need to maintain some kind of database for all the different filetypes, or do like the old Mac OS and OS/2 did, and have it embedded into the file itself. Then, you have to be able to program a menu that is editable at runtime. Not quite as easy as you might think if you've never done any programming, let alone GUI programming. The basic file management functions are pretty simple, at least from the standpoint of the rest of the project, but if you're doing this all from scratch, with no real programming experience, it would probably be a pretty daunting task.

So, I'm going to have to agree with the others. Either break out the checkbook and pay someone to write such a program for you, or get coding yourself. Start learning C or C++ and get coding. You can either use Microsoft's VisualStudio or one of the free GCC ports to actually build the program.

Otherwise, just like iTunes killed off most of the other media player apps on OS X, so Windows Explorer killed off most of the file manager alternatives that existed back in the DOS and Windows 3.x days. You can try the Windows KDE port, but I think what you're really going to want to do is just switch to Linux.

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Really? How?
by El Zagna / May 29, 2008 6:00 AM PDT

>> First you need to maintain some kind of database for all the different filetypes...

It's already there. Everything I need is already built into the registry in the HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT. I could probably go straight to the registry via RegEdit.exe but I really hate monkeying around directly with the registry.

Just take a look at some of the amazing apps that are on CNET's download area. Some are incredibly complex, and they give them away for free! This just looks like a no-brainer in comparison.

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Yep they may be free, but
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / May 29, 2008 8:48 PM PDT
In reply to: Really? How?

your difficulty will be finding a person who knows what he/she is doing who is willing to code precisely what you want.

By the way, it isn't CNET who gives these software applications away, it is the software developers themselves. CNET just advertises them for the developers.

With my, admittedly limited, knowledge of coding I can see that programmers could create any sort of code you can think of to run on computer systems to perform any tasks you like. But finding that person to do what you need is the difficulty.

Such free applications or utilities are often the result of months or years of work and are not undertaken lightly. So it does seem to me that you will need to find a professional computer programmer to do this for you, or start it yourself as a project.


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I AM a programmer
by El Zagna / May 29, 2008 11:24 PM PDT

this just isn't the kind of programming I do, otherwise I WOULD do it myself.

Again, for all of you who are saying how difficult this is just take a look at some of these apps that you can download from CNET (and yes, of course, I know that they are written by others, not CNET). Some of these things are quite complex yet they are given away freely or have a small fee after a trial period. Furthermore some of these apps have very limited functionality or are directed towards a small niche market.

For whatever reason, there are people out there who are willing to spend their time on developing freeware and shareware apps that are much more complex and much more obscure that what I'm talking about.

So I'm still puzzled as to why there isn't some kind of file management app that addresses some of the obvious problems with Explorer.

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The "Why?"
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / May 30, 2008 12:07 AM PDT
In reply to: I AM a programmer

Simply put, there is a file browser that sort of works so when there is something that almost works there are few to rush in to make the perfect browser. Then again one's perfect browser would be panned by the next person.

I'm sure you understand what I'm trying to write here. There is the other mentality that things that are not well done should be fixed or replaced but the Microsoft way is to get something to the point of salable then stop.

Given the millions of users and more you could say that surely someone would offer the replacement you want but as you have discovered it's not out there. At this point you have to decide to DIY.

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Yes and No
by Jimmy Greystone / May 30, 2008 1:40 AM PDT
In reply to: Really? How?

Yes and No... Yes, there is a listing of file associations, but you said you wanted to go above and beyond what Explorer already offers. So, there's no two ways about it, you'd have to maintain your own, separate, database apart from anything in the registry to accomplish that.

All I see is a lot of complaining, and not a lot of action. You say you're a programmer, but that this isn't the kind of programming you do. Well, so what? You've already got the hard part down, and that's learning to program in the first place. No one is born knowing how to write a file manager, they all learn by doing. You have several fully working examples on Linux. It's been a couple of years, so off the top of my head I can think of KDE, GNOME, TkDesk, and Rox-Filer. Each comes with the complete working source code you can look at for inspiration.

If you want this sort of thing done, and no one else seems to be doing it, you can either continue to whine and complain as you have been, or you can do something about it yourself. At this point, further discussion with you seems pointless. There may well be hundreds of other people like you, yearning for something more, but like you they're all waiting for someone else to do it for them. You have your answer, and it's that no such program exists. As Bob said, Explorer is "good enough" for most people, even if it has several limitations and shortcomings. If YOU want something better, YOU go and build it. Don't worry about what other people may think of it, or what features other people might want, or even if other people will use it. Just start by building the filemanager YOU want. Then you can post it online a few places if you like, and if people like it, you could maybe add on features as a hobby.

Anyway, as the discussion seems to be going in circles, this is my last planned response to this discussion. Very likely won't even bother reading any new comments made. So keep whining about the injustice of it all or do something about it, it really makes little difference to me. At least so long as I don't have to listen to you whine.

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by El Zagna / May 30, 2008 2:23 AM PDT
In reply to: Yes and No

First of all I'm not whining. I simply asked a question about the existence of a file manager that would address some of the limitations of Explorer. Many of the responses suggested that such a tool would be extremely difficult to build and that's why you don't see any Explorer substitutes.

Based on my own experience with freeware and shareware, and based on my own knowledge of the Registry and Windows operating systems, I felt that the claims of complexity were misguided and said so. For example your insistence that you would need to maintain a separate database of associations is simply wrong. All you need is a tool that can tap into the registry, pull out the existing associations, and present them to the user in a concise and organized manner. All this could be done in memory. No need for a database or even a flat file.

This really isn't that big a deal for me. I was hoping that someone would know of the kind of app I am looking for, but apparently that's not the case. So it goes. I'm not at all interested in taking the time to do it myself, so I'll just live with Explorer.

I've remained active in this thread because I felt that some of the responses suggested a misconception about freeware/shareware and programming in general, and I wanted to address those misconceptions.

And that's really all there is to it.

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Here you go then ...
by Edward ODaniel / May 31, 2008 1:16 PM PDT
In reply to: Hmmm...

since you are a programmer you should more readily understand that a programmer tends to program either for their own needs (lots of freeware comes via this route) or to other's designs (most all conventional commercial software).

Only the latter approach is going to give you exactly what you want so are you prepared to pay for it if you don't feel up to sitting down and writing it yourself?

If you don't then you might do as others and consider a "piece meal approach". Take a good look at what PowerDesk Pro offers That will cover most of your "desires" and some you didn't mention and may or may not want (don't want them don't use them) then you add a few additional tools (and since you are so oftening mentioning file associations but apparently don't feel up to some simple registry edits) such as OpenExpert which will add as many file associations to any file extension as you heart desires - right into the context menu.

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This is a rather mixed list.
by Kees Bakker / May 29, 2008 3:35 AM PDT

Search for CONTEXT MENU EDITOR to edit right click menus.

Associating .txt files with Notepad++ can be done via Explorer. Right click, open with ..., browse to the program, check "always use" and OK. For me, that's intuitive enough.

Showing folders in the GUI is a different thing again. Personally, I primarily use the free version of Powerdesk.


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Not quite there yet
by El Zagna / May 29, 2008 4:30 AM PDT

Thanks for the suggestions, but none of those do quite what I want. Please understand that I know *how* to associate file types, either with right-click/OpenWith... or via Explorer menu Tools/Folder Options/File Types... But the right-click is only good for settings associations one at a time, and the menu approach is just stinkin' goofy. If someone wants to try and explain the thinking behind it, I would appreciate it.

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Then start programming yourself, I'd say.
by Kees Bakker / May 29, 2008 4:33 AM PDT
In reply to: Not quite there yet

The best way to get a program that does exactly what you want. Start small, with file associations only.


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