From Windows XP to Windows 10, Microsoft has made strides in improving most aspects of the Operating System. While Windows File Explorer has had its chunk of updates, it has largely remained the same.
You can now use the Windows File Explorer alternative from the Microsoft App store on your device. Files is a better, modern, and more manageable version of the legacy File Explorer that comes along in Windows, which we’re all familiar with. It offers more features and is more configurable, as it is a standalone application perfect to match our everyday needs.
Let us continue to see how Files is different from Explorer and what it has to offer.
Table of contents
What is Files?
Files is a free application created by Yair A. and is readily available to download and install through the Microsoft Store. The latest version that is publicly available is 1.0. It can and is being used by many people as an alternative for File Explorer. However, this is only supported for Windows 10 at the moment.
Not that there was anything wrong with Windows File Explorer, only that Files is more convenient to use, and has many benefits over the legacy explorer.
As you may find in the image above, Files may seem like the File Explorer at first glance, but exploring it further would reveal its abundant features. Let us explore some of the advantages it has over the regular explorer.
Since the first thing you notice is the interface, let us begin there. The Graphical User Interface (GUI) may seem similar to that of Windows File Explorer. The navigation bar on the left is almost the same, and so are the tiles on the right. However, with Files, you can create multiple tabs within the same window to go to different places at once.
This was not possible through the legacy File Explorer, and each new location had to be accessed through a separate Explorer window. Separate windows are also supported in Files.
Other than that, navigating back and forth is convenient and easier through the arrows placed near the top of the app. Moreover, the search bar is also available, as it was in the Explorer.
You can also click on the ellipses in the top-right corner to open a new tab or window, copy the path, or even launch the Command Prompt directly into the current directory.
In the bottom-right corner of the app, you will find 3 buttons for Selection options, Layout mode, and Ongoing tasks (left to right). These can be used to select items on the current page, change the layout of the page, and view any ongoing tasks, such as copying or moving items, respectively.
Now, on the bottom-left of the app, you will see the Settings button. The options available in Settings have been discussed further in this article.
We have tried and tested the Files app for some time, and navigating with different directories has been quite convenient. With the additional benefit of multiple tabs, switching from one directory to another has been easier. Since the tabs display the location of the directory, it is now possible to know which directory is open in which tab.
Moving backward and forward in subdirectories using the arrows at the top has also been convenient, but that is no different from the regular explorer. Moreover, copying files is as easy as drag-and-drop, literally! All you need to do is select the item(s) you wish to copy and simply drag them to a different tab to where you wish to copy it.
With the Files app, you will be notified of any action that is being performed that uses the Explorer, such as in the example below:
You can then expand the Ongoing tasks popup, or click on the notification to view the currently executing tasks. This will help you to stop accidental actions and take measures to cancel them before they happen.
The overall experience
The overall experience of the app is much to our liking. It is more modern and offers more than the regular and old File Explorer in Windows 10. Features like the context menu, other windows adapting to the theme, and other customization options in the Settings make us notice that the creator has taken an extra mile in the development of the app.
New features in Files
New features have been added to the latest and stable build Files 1.0:
- Users can now perform search parameters within hidden directories.
- You can now also search for unindexed items.
- Driver widget details are now hidden when not available.
- Customizing layouts is now possible.
- You can now open 2 different settings in a dual-pane layout.
As with every app, there have to be a few bugs. Several of them have been fixed in the new version:
- The problem with the thumbnails becoming blurry when switching between layouts has been fixed.
- The “Create new file” often not working issue has been addressed.
- The issue of the selection getting cleared when clicking it while holding down the Ctrl key has been fixed.
- An unnecessary delay while deleting items has been removed.
- The problem of the application crashing when moving a parent directory to a child directory has been addressed.
- A dialog box now pops up to resolve the conflict when transferring an item to a location where a copy already exists.
You can find the Settings button at the bottom of the app. Clicking on it will take you to another window. Here, you can switch between the different tabs on the left to change your settings and preferences.
The tabs on the left in the Settings menu go in the following order:
- On Startup
- Files and Folders
Here you can set the theme for the Files app. It can be dark, light, or adjustable with that of the Operating System. You can also opt to enable or disable animations and manage how you want to transition to a new tab or a new menu.
From there, you can choose what happens when you launch the Files application. You can go directly to a new, fresh tab or pick up where you last closed the app. You can also set up a default page that opens every time you launch the app, just like on a web browser.
On the Preferences tab, you can select a different language for the app. You can also set a default command line (Command Prompt or PowerShell). You may also enable or disable any confirmation boxes that are prompted, for example, when deleting an item.
You can choose what to display on the home page when you launch the application. This includes library cards, drives, and recent files.
This tab controls multitasking options like enabling or disabling the dual-pane option. It also allows you to manage the dual-pane, such as having it in a horizontal split-screen or a vertical split-screen, etc.
Files and Folders
The options in this tab are related to the items that are displayed through the app. It allows you to display and hide folders, display item extensions, enable or disable single-click access to folders, and much more.
Like the Windows Insider Programs, the Files app also has a testing channel, where users can opt to receive experimental new builds of the app. This option is enabled and disabled through this tab.
The About tab displays information about the app, such as the current version, links to release notes, license agreements, etc.
Download Files app for Windows 10
The Files app is available to download through the Microsoft Store free of cost. Follow the steps below to install it.
- Click here to open the app on the Microsoft Store.
- Now click on Get, and then click Open Microsoft Store in the pop-up box if prompted.
- The Microsoft Store app will now launch. Click on Install to begin downloading and installing the app.
The application will now be installed and you can launch it as soon as it does.
As much as we personally like the Files app, we believe that it could entirely replace the legacy File Explorer for some people. Having said that, there are still a few bugs in the app that need to be addressed. We hope that the developer will soon find a way to fix those so that we can keep up with the fast-paced world by performing our tasks quicker.