There is no doubt that Windows Explorer is a useful tool and it enables you to browse the disks, folders and files on a Windows PC. You can view thumbnails of images, run programs, open documents, play music and much more. Is it the best way to explore the disk though? Q-Dir is four times better.
The main problem with Windows Explorer is that there is only one view of the disk. If you want to view two different folders, such as to move or copy files from one place to another, or to compare the contents of two folders, you have to open a second Explorer window.
Explorer is simply too cumbersome and tedious to use with multiple views and you can end up with two, three or even four separate windows. Q-Dir enables you to easily view multiple disk locations simultaneously and it is simpler and more compact than Explorer.
There are several different versions of Q-Dir, and they are all free. My personal preference is for the portable version because it does not need installing (the less you install in Windows, the better it will run). Get Q-Dir_Portable.zip for 32-bit Windows or Q-Dir_Portable_x64.zip for 64-bit Windows. Unzip the folder and run it from the Downloads folder whenever you need it. If you want to access Q-Dir from the Start menu then download the installer version.
When Q-Dir is run, it divides the window into four panes and each one is like an Explorer window. There is a toolbar and address bar at the top and a status bar at the bottom with more tools. This is not the only display possible and there are many more.
There is a series of buttons to the right of the menu at the top of the screen and these are used to select predefined layouts. There are two panes split horizontally or vertically, three panes with two small and one large one at the top, bottom or left, or four panes split in various ways. These predefined layouts can be adjusted by dragging the dividers between them.
Nearly every feature that is available in Explorer is available in Q-Dir. For example, the toolbar buttons access forward and back browsing buttons, there is a view selector (list, details, thumbnails and so on), delete, cut, copy and paste, and more. Right clicking files and folders in Q-Dir is like right clicking in Explorer and the same menu is displayed.
In addition to the standard Explorer functions and features, there are ones unique to Q-Dir. The Extras menu enables every feature of the window to be customised. There are too many to list them all and the options are extensive. For example, the title bar can show nothing, the full path, the name, the last open Favorites, or the full path of the selected file.
Q-Dir is an excellent free utility and it makes a good alternative to Explorer when you want to browse more than one folder or disk at once. Moving and copying files is much each with the multi-pane view.