- File Explorer is a key feature in Windows, but for those who want more, there are alternative apps like Files that offer new features and a modern design.
- The latest update to Files introduces new icons, a redesigned user interface, modern copy-paste dialogs, Office file previews, a command palette, and the ability to keep the app running in the background.
- Whether or not you should use a third-party File Explorer alternative depends on how satisfied you are with Windows’ default option. If you need more advanced features, a third-party solution like Files may be worth considering.
File Explorer is a keystone feature within Windows, allowing you to navigate your computer’s storage without having to go through the Command Prompt. Microsoft keeps File Explorer updated with fixes and features, but for some, it’s just not enough.
Fortunately, there are plenty of File Explorer alternative apps you can use. One of them is simply called “Files,” and the app just received a huge update that may convince you to ditch Windows’ default File Explorer.
What is the new Files update?
As reported on Windows Central, Files is now on version three. This new version contains a healthy dose of both brand-new features and bug fixes.
The new feature changelog for Files reads as thus:
- New icons. Files v3 features brand-new icons for stable and preview builds, each featuring its distinct color. The public version is yellow (to retain familiarity with the stock File Explorer), while the developer and preview are purple and blue.
- New design. The Files app now has a more modern user interface with a rounded files area, adjusted background opacity, and a reworked from the ground-up sidebar. In addition, files pinned to the sidebar have a distinct icon.
- Modern copy-paste dialogs. This change will delight those unhappy with the outdated copy-paste progress dialogs in the stock File Explorer. You can click the progress icon in the upper-right corner of the app to check out the status of your current procedure.
- Office files preview. You can preview Office documents in the preview pane. Select a file, open the pane, and tap “Preview.” The Files app can also preview other file formats with registered shell preview handlers.
- Command Pallete. The Files app v3 has a built-in command system that lets you execute various actions using quick commands. Press Ctrl + Shift + P and type the action you need, such as “Create new folder,” “Group items by date created,” “Create a ZIP archive,” etc.
- Keep in the background. With the latest update, you can keep the File app running in the background to reduce its launch time.
If you want to check out Files, you can purchase it on the Microsoft Store Files App page for $8.99.
Should you install a third-party File Explorer alternative?
The idea of there being an alternative to File Explorer may come as a shock. After all, every time a Windows user needs to find a file, print off documents, or view their family photos, they usually turn to File Explorer to get the job done.
To be clear, there’s nothing inherently wrong with Windows’ File Explorer. Microsoft knows that it’s the main workhorse behind Windows and has made considerable strides in designing the new File Explorer UI and features for Windows 11. The truth is, though, that if you do decide to stick with Microsoft’s offerings, you’re tied to its update process for new features and updates. For some people, Microsoft either takes too long to push out updates, adds too little with each update, or both.
As such, whether or not you should download or even pay for a File Explorer alternative depends on how much you like Windows’ stock option. If you’re happy with it and you don’t use File Explorer for more than browsing or moving files, you may not get the full potential out of an alternative app. However, if you’re a power user and need more advanced features (like Files’ new Office previews and keyboard shortcut features, for instance) then a third-party solution may be just what you need. And even if you dislike it, you can always go back to Windows’ default File Explorer.
Despite Microsoft’s efforts to bring File Explorer into the modern era, there are still alternative apps that some people prefer. And with Files’ latest update, it makes it a strong contender against Microsoft’s offerings.