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Written by Doug Dallam   
Monday, 12 December 2011
Table of Contents: Page Index
Zabcat xplorer² File Management Software
Background: xplorer2 File Manager
Functions: Dual Pane File Manager
Zabcat xplorer2 Conclusion

Background: xplorer² Dual Pane File Manager

What's the big deal about a File Manager? If you need to ask this question, just go back to Facebook and enjoy your Android tablet. Just a little joke. Really, if you need to ask this question, you're probably not too interested in a file manager. However, for those of us who are interested, the big deal about a robust file manager is that, for one, it's how we interact with our hard drives and two, Windows Explorer is dead clunky. Well, it's actually just dead, as in dead meat, no life, road pizza. Can you tell I really dislike Windows Explorer? (Image: An alternate configuration. The bottom pane is actually a directory with "Thumbnails" view active. You can see the preview image area on the left also. Note both the quick access drive buttons on the top toolbar and two drive tabs open in the top pane.)

xplorer2_Alternate_Window.jpg

The problem is that we've been without a good file explorer for so long, we subconsciously take it for granted that there isn't really a need for a robust file manager. For power users, nothing could be farther from truth. Having the ability to open one window with two panes for file copy and maintenance is something many of us haven't had the pleasure of experiencing, and if we have, can't do without.

Why Microsoft hasn't developed the dual pane browser is simply beyond me. Actually, the reason is most likely that Microsoft has been pushing Windows as the "people's" OS since it's inception, that is, trying to capture the everday person's interest (with the necessary condition of the Windows OS, of course) for all things information and entertainment related, and in doing so got it all wrong with one exception: "The people" will never be interested in dealing with information at the file level. Moreover, "the people" aren't really computer savvy either. (They're app savvy, tablet savvy, and smart phone savvy, but computers might as well be something out of Star Gate's Asgard line of technology; either that, or something old people do for work.) The masses' disinterest in dealing with files at the disk level left Microsoft unmotivated to develop a powerful file manager, and leaves us virtually without choice. (This is all conjecture because I have no idea why MS has never developed a robust file manager.)

In any event, the lack of a robust file manager is why we need xplorer² (from here on out, “X2”): It's the only deal going that's a professionally polished piece of software (unless I've missed an alternative of the same caliber) giving us complete control over our files, all in one package. Many of you don't remember “Norton Commander” of the DOS days. If you do, though, you'll appreciate another comparison: Norton Commander was to DOS what X2 is to Windows. Norton Commander was a keyboard GUI file utility for DOS, and DOS was the precursor to Windows, but without a graphical interface, rather, just a line of text that went, “blink. . .blink. . .blink. . .” waiting for you to type something like “copy autoexec.bat c:\windows." Nope, no Andriod, no iPhone, no “apps.” Sorry kiddies. Those were the days when men walked uphill to work in the snow, and then uphill back home in the snow, while humping a dot matrix printer. (And no, I'm not going to explain what a “dot matrix” printer is.) Anyway, Norton Commander allowed us to copy, move, delete, rename, and everything else in a couple of keyboard clicks, greatly reducing file maintenance time and effort when using DOS. The same thing is true with X2 and Windows. Let's look at some of X2's functions.



 

Comments 

 
# RE: Zabcat xplorer² File Management SoftwareSun Down 2011-12-12 14:30
I believe I've used a file manager in some point of my life, granted it was a free software. However I've gotten used to using the [windows + ^/v/] to simulate a dual-pane explorer. Any more than that is impossible though.
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# RE: Zabcat xplorer² File Management SoftwareDoug Dallam 2011-12-12 18:36
How do you simulate a dual pane in Win Explorer?
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# RE: RE: Zabcat xplorer² File Management SoftwareOlin Coles 2011-12-12 18:44
Windows Explorer is dual-pane to begin with.
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# RE: Zabcat xplorer² File Management SoftwareDoug Dallam 2011-12-12 19:20
You mean as in tree on the left and directory pane on the right? Yes. Is that what you mean?
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# RE: RE: Zabcat xplorer² File Management SoftwareOlin Coles 2011-12-12 22:06
Yes, the directory tree on left and contents on right. That's still dual pane, and believe it or not, the reason it's called 'Windows'.
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# RE: RE: RE: Zabcat xplorer² File Management SoftwareDoug Dallam 2011-12-13 01:27
I hope people know what I mean when I say "dual pane." I don't know how else I would differentiate it from Windows Explorer. Tri-pane doesn't sound right either. Any suggestions?
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# RE: Zabcat xplorer² File Management SoftwareMack 2011-12-14 18:15
This looks very good. So I will check it out.

Suggestions, Hmmm... How about "Multi-pane" ?

I really don't like the search functionality built into windows explorer, so if this does a better job, I just might take the plunge.

Thanks for the review.
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# RE: Zabcat xplorer² File Management SoftwareDoug Dallam 2011-12-14 21:04
We always called them Dual Pane and referred to the Windows file browser as single pane. I hope others understand. The search engine in this thing is just fantastic. It's fast and you can find anything, easily, unlike the Win7 search engine where you better specify things like *.ext and crap like that.
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# RE: Zabcat xplorer² File Management SoftwareChris Hoffman 2011-12-16 04:28
I use Directory Opus, and it is really good. I wonder how this compares...
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# RE: RE: Zabcat xplorer² File Management SoftwareDoug Dallam 2011-12-16 22:15
Download it and check it out.
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# nice. still...resere 2011-12-16 05:05
i do think total/win comander fits me. but hey, i didn't explore x2 so i'm obviously biased.
Anyway a lot of similarities between those two, TC/RX2.
what im waiting for it's a damn good norton commander for apple. Fully working and reliable, i mean.
Nice review.
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# RE: nice. still...Doug Dallam 2011-12-16 22:18
I think I tried that once. If so, it seemed less polished than xplorer2 is. It's also 32 bit which will result in some of the same problems xplorer2 free (320 bit) has listing system directories. There is a free version though, so it wouldn't hurt to try it.
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# RE: Zabcat xplorer² File Management SoftwareRichard Fitzmaurice 2011-12-16 06:30
Excellent article, just what I needed. I had hope to see a special offer from Zabcat, wishful thinking. I downloaded the trial and will probably purchase the software which they have you to thank.
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# RE: RE: Zabcat xplorer² File Management SoftwareDoug Dallam 2011-12-16 22:20
Thanks. I used a few before I settled on x2. One of my criteria was that the options include a free version. It's more targeted to "directory" users and not "folders" users with fancy graphics and other play stuff. It's definitely a real tool.
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# What an awful reviewET3D 2011-12-16 09:10
I'm happy that I got to the third page after the first two rant pages, because this does look like a powerful piece of software, but it felt like the reviewer made every effort to make this feel like a piece of software only fitting for people stuck in the past who would rather break all ties with the human race.

While I assume that "something that has been lacking since Windows 2.0" is just a typo and means 3.0 (or 3.11, which I think was the last version), the unexplained hatred towards Windows Explorer and the Vista/7 version in particular (which actually has some improvements over XP), the repeated insults to Android users and users of other modern things such as Facebook, and the discussion of this as if it's the only Windows Explorer alternative make the reviewer sound ignorant and small minded, and is really off-putting. These comments would have been somewhat forgivable if they showed up once, but they're the majority of the review.

It would also have been nice to see a comment regarding the differences between the free and commercial versions.
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# RE: What an awful reviewMack 2011-12-16 13:20
Perhaps just a touch too much embellishment and exaggeration, but the points made are valid and strike home.
Too many companies are dumbing down the interfaces, and losing GUI functionality and replacing it with "gee wiz" my interface is semi-transparent... and look-a-like a black framed pic apps and os's.

Each device has a purpose. This particular piece is a utility...
The review was decent. Yes, it could have mentioned some of the other apps out there they have similar functionality and even compared one or 2.
Points for that. But no more exaggerated than your review of his piece as "Aweful".
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# RE: What an awful reviewDoug Dallam 2011-12-16 23:13
It's called S-A-T-I-R-E. Sorry you missed that.

And, I did mention a couple of differences between the two version. Sorry you missed that too.
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# RE: RE: What an awful reviewDoug Dallam 2011-12-16 23:20
Mack, that wasn't supposed to be a reply to you. I was trying to reply to ET3D. So I'll just reply to you here also because I can't change the order of comments.and leave that one. So the SATRIE comment was meant for ET3D.

Mack: You mean you don't think xplorer2 really found that salami sandwich behind my refrigerator? It really did, promise.
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# That's not satireET3D 2011-12-17 02:38
You should look up what satire means. It sounds from the article like you really hate Explorer and don't like Facebook, tablet users, etc. If that's not the case, then it means the entire article was satire, and you didn't really like the product you reviewed. If that's the case then I misjudged the situation. If you do hate all these and say it then say something equivalent to "ha ha, I'm just exaggerating, people don't die when they look at you, you're just average ugly" then it's not really humour, just insulting and unprofessional.
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# RE: Zabcat xplorer² File Management SoftwareChris Hoffman 2011-12-16 23:27
I have tested it. IMO, Directory Opus is superior. There are only two downsides about Directory Opus...but one of them is also a strength. It is extremely configurable and customizable...which is great most of the time, but it also makes finding a certain option difficult on occasion. The second is...if you don't close it for a very long period of time, it will eventually run away with resources. Of course, all you have to do is close and reopen it, but still... I prefer it by a large margin. Of course, it could have something to do with me being used to where things are on it somewhat, though.
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# RE: Zabcat xplorer² File Management SoftwareDoug Dallam 2011-12-16 23:36
Does Directory Opus have the advanced search engine and the ability to run DOS from its interface, with the ability to copy and paste commands from it? Those are both really important to me as a power user. I also use the heck out of the scrap containers.

X2 also has a gazillion options, but as you noted, once you get used to it, it's fine. I'm curious why you think DO is superior? Maybe I'll check it out if it can do something I need that X2 cannot, but one thing I don't need is for my file utility to have a memory leak.
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# RE: Zabcat xplorer² File Management SoftwareChris Hoffman 2011-12-16 23:50
It does have an advanced and super fast search engine. I am sure it can run DOS commands, although I have not tried it. It has the ability to add many custom features by combining "functions". For example, I can add a button to the toolbar that sorts by modified date, and I can set it to show newer first or older first. You can customize all the menus, context menus, and toolbars...add any custom feature or existing feature wherever you want.
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# RE: Zabcat xplorer² File Management SoftwareChris Hoffman 2011-12-16 23:59
While you can add and remove buttons from the toolbar with X2, that's the extent of the customization. You can't arrange, add to menus, context menus, setup features that work a little differently, etc...for example, the sort by date feature I mentioned seems backwards to me...since I prefer the newest to the right. You can do all of that and much more. I created a button to send the selected files via email. You can even have it copy files to a specific location, for example if you move files to a certain folder frequently, with a single click. Granted, these features are for more advanced users. However, you can ask a question like "what would the function be to do this"? in the forum, and you'll get a reply.
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# RE: Zabcat xplorer² File Management SoftwareDoug Dallam 2011-12-17 00:06
Chris, I think you can do all that with X2, or at least most of it. As for toolbars and custom columns, only the commercial version does that. Did you install the evaluation version with the entire "Customize" options available?

As for commands, you sure can do all of that. Try Customize, User Commands. You can use any keyboard shortcut, icon, email, paths, etc.

If you contact Nikos at ZABKAT, he's write you fast back and explain it much better than I can. If you do contact him, please do write back with what you find.
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# RE: Zabcat xplorer² File Management SoftwareChris Hoffman 2011-12-17 00:11
I am replying from my phone currently. I will check it out further when I'm back to my PC. Thanks for the comments. I will surely give it another look.
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# RE: Zabcat xplorer² File Management Softwaredlb 2011-12-17 13:52
I honestly did not read >all< the comments above, but in case no-one posted above, there is a freeware version of xplorer2 and I've been using it for years. It doesn't have all the flexibility and features of the paid version (obviously), but it is truly an excellent alternative to the built-in Win Explorer. It has 3 panes: a tree on the left, and on the right there's a top/bottom scenario. So you essentially have have 3 panes to navigate between which makes file management simple. Yeah, I like it!
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# RE: RE: Zabcat xplorer² File Management Softwaredlb 2011-12-17 13:55
EDIT- I'm sure the top/bottom set up of the right panes isn't 'locked in'; it can probably be changed to a left/right scenario, but I have become so accustomed to the top/bottom config that I have no reason or desire to try it the other way....
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# RE: RE: RE: Zabcat xplorer² File Management SoftwareDoug Dallam 2011-12-17 15:59
I think the vertical orientation is locked in the free version; that is, left and right panes, not top and bottom. Can you confirm deny this on your LITE version? You should find an option "View>Tile Horizontally/Vertically" if it is there. In the pay version, the option is there.
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# RE: RE: RE: RE: Zabcat xplorer² File Management Softwaredlb 2011-12-18 14:49
Yup - the free 'lite' version allows the changing of the right panes from a "top/bottom" config (which I personally prefer) to a "left/right" config as shown in the screen shot on page 1 of the review. However, in that screen shot, it shows picture previews as being in the lower left corner beneath the "tree" pane, but in the free 'lite' version, previews only appear when the "Preview" box is highlighted, and the previews appear on the far right side of the xplorer2 window; a new pane opens for graphics image previews of PNG, JPG, etc; they appear on the far right in their own pane regardless of whether the panes are set up in a "top/bottom" or "left/right" config.
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# RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: Zabcat xplorer² File Management SoftwareDoug Dallam 2011-12-18 16:32
@dlb

Did you try dragging the preview pane to a different location?
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# RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: Zabcat xplorer² File Management Softwaredlb 2011-12-19 11:07
Yeah, I tried it just now and it does not drag. The preview pane location might be configurable via one of the options in the Customize or Layouts menus, but these are basically locked out in the freeware 'lite' version. The location of the Preview pane isn't really a big deal (to me personally anyway); I simply mentioned it because I found it an interesting difference between the free 'lite' version and the paid 'pro' version.
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# RE: Zabcat xplorer² File Management SoftwareChris Hoffman 2011-12-17 14:00
I can confirm that. It's definitely configurable. I am giving it another try now.
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# RE: Zabcat xplorer² File Management SoftwareDoug Dallam 2011-12-17 15:28
Thanks Chris. If you dig deep into X2's Customize options you might find stuff you never imagined was possible. That's one thing I really liked about this software: it gives the user incredible ways to customize its interface and possibilities. For example, you can use XN-view's plugins to view virtually any image file, including camera RAW files.
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# RE: Zabcat xplorer² File Management SoftwareJohn Naylor 2011-12-18 17:23
I have never stopped using a dual pane file manager. It's been around just about since Windows 3 and it's called PowerDesk .... started out w/ Mijenix and it had another tool which I still use called the toolbar which was reminiscent of HP's Dashboard. Once Avanquest bought it, they called it the Coolbar and it was dropped in the last version. The file management utility still exists as both a fee and paid for "pro" version

##avanquest.com/USA/software/powerdesk-pro-138876
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# RE: Zabcat xplorer² File Management Softwarebstag 2012-02-16 16:23
I have used this piece of software for years. Before it came out i used 2xplorer made by the same person back in 1999. I can not live with out it anymore.
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