In two recent articles on Windows Explorer, I explained advanced settings and shared tips and tricks to improve your experience with the Windows file manager. To conclude this article trilogy, I will show you how you can add missing features using Windows Explorer add-ons, for example tabs, an enhanced copy process, and a tool to restore desktop icons.
Most of us have got used to tabs ever since tabbed browsing became cool almost a decade ago. Although Microsoft eventually gave in to the competition and has been offering tabbed browsing since the release of Internet Explorer 7 in 2006, they apparently never considered offering this feature for their file manager. Fortunately, a nifty software developer named Paul crafted an add-on to fill the gap.
QTTabBar adds an additional menu bar to the Windows Explorer interface, with buttons for advanced opening and closing of folders, a copy tool, an additional search field, and a list of recently closed folders. All options can be accessed separately using the [TAB] key. The folder tabs sit on top of that menu bar. Tabs can be re-arranged using drag & drop.
QTTabBar is available for Windows XP through Windows 7.
Windows Explorer is notoriously unreliable for copying large amount of files. The transfer can be slow, the procedure buggy, and if only a single file acts up, the whole process auto-aborts. Alternatives, such as using the command line or a backup program, are intricate and counter intuitive.
TeraCopy was designed to dramatically improve this process. The tool integrates with the Windows Explorer right-click menu, can be used to copy files per default, copy and move large amounts of files at the best speed possible, and transfers can be paused and resumed. Also, bad files don’t cause the whole process to abort, rather they are skipped and listed when the rest of the transfer was completed.
Doesn’t it drive you nuts when your neatly organized desktop icons are all dislocated when your desktop resolution is changed, for example after connecting to an external monitor or a projector? This used to drive me up the wall. Meanwhile, I no longer keep icons on my desktop. However, if you don’t fancy accessing file and folders via the QuickLaunch bar or other tools, Desktop Restore is a must have.
Desktop Restore records the exact positions of all your desktop icons and allows you to restore the layout, should your icons become scrambled. The tool integrates in the desktop right-click menu. You can easily save and restore current layouts. Via the Custom Layout Save/Restore menu option, you can switch between layouts at different desktop resolutions, as well as save or restore the layout data to or from a file.
StExBar is my +1 add-on. It is potentially useful, however, it did not prove compatible with QTTabBar. It adds another toolbar with advanced features to the Windows Explorer toolbar. You can read a full review of the tool here: The Ultimate Extension for Windows Explorer
Not strictly add-ons, but tools to improve the Windows Explorer open file dialogue arePlacesBar Editor and Places Utility. They enable you to change the default folders shown in the dialogue window.