- Ridiculously powerful and customizable
- Tight integration with Windows
- Built-in file viewer and other utilities
- May not be worth it for casual users
- Learning curve for maximizing value
If you usually have more than two or three file explorer windows open at once, it’s well worth checking this out.
Every user has a handful of “must have” programs for their system, the first things installed on a new computer or re-installed after a disaster. For me, one of these is Directory Opus by GPSoftware. Version 11 continues to build on Directory Opus’ strengths, and the features and design philosophies that its core customers want. With so many venerable applications rushing to simplify in the hopes of grabbing the phone/tablet market, Directory Opus knows that it’s a desktop app, aimed at desktop users, and especially at those who don’t mind delving into deeply nested dialog boxes or learning command-line-esque toggles and flags.
Despite that, Directory Opus does not require weeks of study to begin to use. At the simplest level, it works just like File Explorer, with virtually no learning curve. The user is free to explore options and customizations at their own pace, and will quickly find a stable set of features they use daily, and delve into the rest as needed.
Directory Opus displays files and directories in “listers,” each of which has one window. I rarely need more than one lister open because my default lister is split horizontally, with each half having its own folder tree on the left, and multiple tabbed, open, folders on the right. I routinely have 6 to 10 total folders open, divided between the tabs as needed. If I need to open a new lister, it’s because I want to see my files in a new way: For example, I have a format I use when browsing directories full of PDFs, a custom setup that makes it easy to navigate among the files while viewing them in the built-in file display.
One of the nicer new features of Directory Opus 11 is that each folder view in a split lister has its own navigation toolbar, whereas previously, this was a lister-level control. Another new feature is that labeling rules can now be local to a given folder format. For example, I can create a format I use primarily for folders holding work projects, and create a rule to make newer files appear in bold, green, italic. If I look at a different folder—or the same folder with a different format momentaselected—this rule is not applied.
Another new feature is “thumbnails in details,” adding a “thumbnail” column to the options available for the “details” mode. Again, this can be set as part of a folder format, so it may be on when you view “Images” folders and off otherwise.
This doesn’t begin to cover all the functionality in Directory Opus. Among other things—complex searching by regular expression, a scripting language for bulk renaming according to complex rules, a robust viewer that supports many document and video formats, built-in compression/decompression tools, toolbar sets, “flat view” that shows an entire directory tree as a single folder, dynamic filtering as you type, and those are just the ones I happen to personally use regularly. There are plenty of features I haven’t needed to use, but which others will find vital.
There are no real issues or drawbacks to Directory Opus, if you’re the kind of user who would benefit from its features, and who is willing to invest at least a little time in learning the basics of how to configure and customize it. The 60 day trial offers full functionality, easily enough to determine if the price is worth it.