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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

Functions: xplorer² Dual Pane File Manager

I'm not going over X2's entire suit of functions because you can go to ZABKAT and read about it yourself. Not only that, but if I were to go over every single aspect of X2 you'd probably be lying face down in your pepperoni pizza fast asleep. The power this thing has is astounding, however. So, let's hit a few of the incredible abilities of xplorer² and then give it up to you for further experimentation.

Dual Pane
X2's main claim to fame, but far from its only function, is that it's a fully integrated dual pane file manager utility. Fully customizable as far as window layout and pane information, including columns, previews, and disk information. When I went looking for a replacement for Windows Explorer, I went looking specifically for a dual pane model. What I didn't realize was the power that came with X2, such as previewing documents, like PDF files, Word and Open Office files, and most image files, including video.

The basic layout of X2 is the three pane layout, which can be vertical or horizontal. So, for instance, you can have the folder tree on the left and then two panes on the right, each with different directory paths open. You can turn it into four panes by opening the “preview” pane to view files, such as image files or doc type files—without opening any other programs. Or, you can simply drag the preview window below the vertical panes, or below the directory tree. Once laid out, you can simply click to close the panes you're not using, such as the preview pane. If you need them again, another click and they're back in their same location. You can save entire layouts and load them in a click, too. X2 also remembers the last directories you were using, and opens to those directories. (Image: (1) Directory tree, (2) File Pane, (3) File Pane set to "thumbnails," (4) Preview Pane.)


Command Line Access
You can start DOS commands by typing “$” right from X2's path bar. Below we see the information that the command “$ ipconfig” generates. You can copy text from the returned information and paste command line arguments into the command line, too, unlike a normal CMD window. Typing ">" is the symbol for "run” and is the same thing as using "run" or typing in the search box in the Win7 menu. X2 also saves a history of your commands. Try that with a CMD window and see what you get. (Image: DOS command from X2's path bar and its output.)


Tabbed Directories and Directory Bookmarks
Tabbing often used directories can be a real time saver, and works just like a browser. If you want to stay on "pane 1" and open another directory in that pane, just hit “tab” and you now have a tab ready for more input. So, you can have two panes with tabs in each one, and each tab can represent different locations. This way you can have infinite directories open simultaneously in each pane. Next, if you have directories you use often, bookmark them. This is just like web browser tabs, except X2's bookmarks are for directory locations. If you find yourself drilling down into specific directories often, this is going to make your day. (Image: (1) Directory pane with tabs, (2) Second directory pane with tabs. This is a Side by Side layout without a preview or tree window.)


Mass Renamer
For file junkies needing to rename large batches of files, you can do it with X2's mass renamer. It's not as robust as programs specifically created for renaming, but it gets the job done for fast mass renames. For instance, let's say you dumped a load of vacation pictures into a directory. If you want to rename them “vacation_2011_001.jpg” then the mass renamer will do that for you quite easily.


File Shredder
There really isn't any need for a picture of this. You simply select your file or files and choose “Actions>shred.” It's a nice touch, but the shredder only overwrites with zeros, and only overwrites once, without any options. So, if you need to make sure your files are really, really gone, it's better to go with a high powered shredder (or a blow torch). For most of us, the overwrite with zeros method will suffice. If a future drive necromancer ever finds my hard drive, for example, they're going to think the early 21st century was pretty boring. I mean, they'll find this document, right? (I do, however, use a high powered shredder to shred old bluprints for my antigravity, perpetual motion vehicles the government and corporations have been trying to steal from me.)

Heavy Duty Search Utility (Not available in the free edition.)
A really powerful search tool that replaces the Window's search utility completely, complete with Boolean search options. You can search inside files, outside of files, behind files, text in files, filter your searches, and anything else file search related. (It even found a decaying salami sandwich behind my refridgerator.) I've compared X2's file search to the venerable Agent Ransack, and it works, at the very least, as well.


Synchronize Directories or Checking a Build
This isn't like synchronizing a backup, as it doesn't delete files or back them up. There are two options. The first one is a quick link to synchronize what you have already setup with the second option, which allows you to choose what type of synchronization you want. The output highlights files that you specify in the options panel. Perform the sync, and then do what you want with the results. Then we have a build checker. This option is for programmers, allowing them to check the builds of compiled files.

Find Duplicates
Select a directory or drive, and simply click “Find Duplicates.” This finds any duplicate files on your system. This is great for those multi-terabyte mp3 collections.

Scrap Container
The scrap container is a window that keeps files you want to work on, without having to go find them again every time you need them. So let’s say I'm going to install some programs, then later work on a review, like this one, and I have a couple of RAW photos I need to get out to a client. I can pull those files into a “scrap container” and they sit there in their little container until I need them. The scrap container is simply a temporary box of file shortcuts, but with all the options that X2 supports.

Access to FTP and Webdav
Pretty much any directory you can open with another program, you can open it with xplorer².

A portable version is also available for the paid and free versions.

There are more features in X2, such as a fully customizable layouts and toolbars, but you should check those out yourself, if interested. For now, we need to wrap this up, so check out the conclusion.



# 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

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
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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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