Copyright Michael Karbo, Denmark, Europe.

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    Chapter 11. File management

    It is important to keep your user data in order. It has to be put in the right folders and copies will have to be made often. How do you manage all these files and folders? Here are some options:

  • Use Windows Explorer

  • Use other tools for managing your files

  • Use text-based commands

    Windows Explorer is an excellent tool, especially if you can get the display right as shown of page 31.


    Here is another setting for Windows Explorer, which we can just as well tackle immediately. This is the search function.

    It is practical to use Windows Explorer to search for particular files. Searches like:




    All temporary files of the TMP type
    (can be deleted)


    All HTML documents ending with HTM.

    Standard template for Word


    All the Word templates


    All BAK files (typically backup versions) of different documents)

    Figure 59. Searching for particular types of files. Documents must not be open if the search function is to find them.

    Later in the booklet I am going to show you the file managing program Total Commander, which is also excellent for searching (with the command Find files). But it is often more logical to use Windows Explorer. The problem is that the explorer in Windows XP is equipped with a foolish guide, which slows a search down. It has to be deactivated:

    1.    Open Windows Explorer and mark, for example, the C drive's' root:

    2.    Press on 3, which will activate the search function. A sweet little doggy appears on the screen, which most children like a lot. Click on Change settings:

    3.    Click on Change files and folders. Select Advanced:

    4.    The search function works again! Type in, for example, *.tmp in the field and click on the button Search.

    5.    Windows Explorer will now find all the files and folders, which end with TMP.

    You can see the result in the window on the right and most of these files can be deleted. Find the oldest files and delete them, this shouldn't give any problems.

    Figure 60. The search function should look like this in Windows XP.

    Supplementary tools

    My experience is that Windows Explorer can advantageously be supplemented with one or two extra tools. There is a fantastic shareware program, which it is difficult to do without when managing files. It is Swiss and is called Total Commander.

    The program can be downloaded from the address, and there is a Danish version. It can be tested free of charge but otherwise it only costs a modest $32. This is cheap for a comprehensive and effective tool.

    Figure 61. Total Commander is a super tool!

    The Commander look

    Back in the 1980s nearly all computers were DOS based. This meant that file management was very troublesome. It was done exclusively with text-based commands like cd, md, rd, dir, copy, xcopy, etc.

    It was, therefore, a big step forward when the program Norton Commander arrived on the market. This was a more graphical interface, which completely revolutionarily worked with two windows each with its own folder structure.

    Figure 62. The classical text-based Commander look here in the form of the Windows program FAR Manager, which is a direct clone of the original Norton Commander (see

    The layout with two independent windows gives a good overview of the folders and makes the work of copying files, etc. easier. In fact, Norton was so successful that its interface lives on in many of today's programs.

    Total Commander

    Total Commander is a modern program, which can be used for all sorts of file management. On the face of it, the program's interface is a little too compact and overfilled. But underneath there is a hyper effective file tool, which can be used for many tasks.

    Figure 63. The interface consists of two independent windows, each displaying the contents of its folder.

    The display is divided into two windows, each displaying a folder hierarchy. What is smart is that you can navigate in the two windows independently.

    An example of a practical task could be that you select one folder in the left window and another one in the right. Then you mark a few files in one of the windows. Then they can be moved to the other window with 6 or they can be copied with F5. New folders are created with 7 and can be deleted with 8. It is an unbelievably effective interface, when you have got used to it.

    Function keys in Commander

    One of the real reasons of the Norton Commanders big success was the use of function keys. The original layout has lived on in all the later versions and it is also found in Total Commander. Here is a list of the most important keyboard shortcuts:


    View. A file's contents are displayed. Especially used for text files, which are displayed in the internal viewer called Lister.


    Edit. Edit text based files in own or external editor.


    Copy. Copies marked files and folders from one window to the other.


    Rename. Rename files or move them from one window to the other.


    Make Directory. Make a new directory in active folder.


    Delete. Delete the marked files and folders in the active window.

    Alt+F1 and Alt+F2

    Changes drive in the right and the left window respectively.


    Find files.


    Inserts bookmarks and opens favourite folders.


    Compares the contents of both folders.


    Marks all files and folders or removes all the marking.


    Connects to FTP server.

    Figure 64. Th most important shortcuts in Total Commander.

    When you have first got used to the interface, the shortcut keys are lightening fast to use. You learn very quickly to slide up and down in the folder structure with the help of the two windows and the files can fly from one window to the other with only a few keystrokes.

    Smart copying

    When you copy large amounts of documents from one folder to another (when security copying, for example), you can ask Total Commander only to overwrite the older files. In this way, it is only the files, which have been altered since the last security copying that will be copied. See also the description on page 79.

    Total Commander finds out itself that there are identical files in both maps. Click on the button Overwrite older:

    Figure 65. When making security copies it is practical to only overwrite the older files if there are many identical files in the two folders.


    Another rather special function you can take advantage of is the editing of the files' attributes. If you want to clear up an old hard disk, then it can be irritating if some files and folders apparently can't be deleted. This might be because some files are marked with the attributes write protected, hidden or system. This means that the files cannot be deleted.

    If you want to change this, mark the folder or file and select the menu File --> Change attributes. Then you can remove the four attributes by clicking or using the space key in the four fields. When you click on OK, the attributes are changed in all the files in the whole of the folder including the subfolders. With the exception of the files, which for some reason or another are locked in Windows.

    Figure 66. It can be necessary to change the files' attributes before they can be deleted. This is easy in Total Commander.

    Total Commander is warmly recommended for everyone, who seriously works at keeping order in a computer's folders. The program is extremely flexible and can be adapted in innumerable ways. I use it especially for clearing up, for taking security copies from a computer to an external hard disk and for uploading files to my website (FTP). It's good at doing this too.

    Figure 67. There are lots of setting options in Total Commander.

    Try PowerDesk too

    The company VCOM produces a lot of advanced software as well as the programs System Commander and Partition Commander, which can be used to control hard disk partitions and several systems on the same computer.

    VCOM also produce a tool for file management called PowerDesk. This is really just a high-potency version of Windows Explorer. The interface is, in fact, the same as the one we recognise from the Explorer; it is just pepped-up with a wealth of functions. You can download version 5.0 of PowerDesk completely free of charge from the company's website

    Figure 68. If you are happy with the interface in Windows Explorer then you will probably be just as happy with PowerDesk, which is found in a free version.

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