At a Glance
- Cumbersome; Not enough keyboard shortcuts
Manage files and directories using multiple panes.
Windows’ built-in Explorer file manager has seen many
improvements over the years. It now has features thumbnails,
multiple folder views, and lots of other goodies. But it still
lacks basic functionality, such as tabbed windows and a dual-pane
view. If you occasionally feel the need for a file manager with a
bit more oomph–but find Total Commander to
be overkill–the free Q-Dir might pique your interest.
Q-Dir is a tiny application: Its executable weighs in at only
783KB, and in portable mode it uses just that single executable
plus two setting files. You could literally fit it onto an old
floppy, if you still have one of those lying around.
Q-Dir’s initial display may seem a bit overwhelming: It features
four equally-sized panes, each with an Explorer view of your file
system. It’s very much like taking four Explorer windows and gluing
If four isn’t your magic number, you can switch to a three-pane
layout with a single click. In fact, Q-Dir offers no less than
twelve different layouts, each accessible via a tiny (yet clearly
illustrated) toolbar button. If you’ve always wanted a
multiple-column layout similar to the Mac’s Finder app, Q-Dir
can easily accommodate that with a triple-pane vertical layout.
Q-Dir ships with multiple color schemes, with names like “I like
Barbie” and “The Black is my color” (the author’s native tongue is
German). But when applying a scheme, not all window elements are
affected and some retain their default system colors. The result
looks like an odd potpourri of colors thrown together.
For added power (or complexity), every pane can contain multiple
tabs. Simply hit Ctrl+T to open a new tab, and then Ctrl+Tab to
switch over to it. If the idea of four Explorer panes, each with
multiple tabs, is making you dizzy–I tend to agree. This
complexity is exacerbated by the fact Q-Dir doesn’t have
keyboard shortcuts for switching to specific panes. So if I’m in
the top-left pane and I wish to switch over to the bottom-right
pane, I need to either click it with the mouse, or hit Tab six
times (I counted) while carefully watching the screen to see what
element now has focus.
The fact Q-Dir uses vanilla Explorer panes to display your files
can either be an advantage or an annoyance, depending on your
personal preference. Explorer was made to be as simple as possible,
so operations such as selecting all EXE files in a folder (as you
can with Total Commander) are too much for Q-Dir’s humble
capabilities. On the other hand, if you’re very much used to
explorer and just require a bit of extra power every now and then,
you might feel right at home with Q-Dir.