Replace File Explorer With This Free Windows App

Windows Explorer has evolved and expanded over the years, but the core functionality has remained largely the same. And he’s just as awkward and ugly as ever.

Microsoft plans to provide File Explorer with a bit of TLC in the upcoming release of Windows 10X, but those looking for a simplified – or just prettier – option right now may look to a third-party alternative like Files UWP .

Fair warning: Files UWP is still in beta, so the usual warnings apply here; the application may not always work as expected, some bugs may occur, and some features are still in development. But even in the unfinished state, Files UWP has a lot to offer, especially as a free app.


The UWP files are optimized and easy to use, but the first thing I noticed when downloading it is how good the app looks. It’s not that it’s flashy; rather, it looks like a native Windows 10 app. I’d even say that it integrates better with the Windows 10 user interface than Microsoft Files Explorer ever did. This helps make switching to Files UWP more natural.

Functionally, Files UWP looks like a mixture of Windows 10 system menus and Edge Chromium. The left menu contains a familiar list of folder shortcuts, including:

  • Desktop
  • Documentation
  • Downloads
  • Photos
  • Music
  • video
  • Local drives
  • One disc
  • And a Home screen with shortcuts to frequently used and recently opened items.

This home screen is what you get when you open a new tab in Files UWP, which is the biggest difference compared to File Explorer. UWP Files allows you to open multiple folders as tabs in the same application window, making it more like a web browser than ever in a file explorer. This makes the desktop more organized (although I find the multi-window approach better for me as a person who often moves files to and from multiple folders on a daily basis). However, moving files between UWP Files tabs is a snap and works great for fast drag-and-drop, albeit inelegant.

Other features

When it comes to basic file management, Files UWP does everything you’d expect, but some of the features are in different places than what you’re probably used to.

For example, right-clicking allows you to move, copy, share, delete, rename, and view the properties of files and folders, but you will need to click the “+” in the upper-right corner of the application window to create new folders. It takes a little getting used to, but the button also includes shortcuts for creating new text documents or new image files, which is a nifty addition.

There is also a Layout Mode button that allows you to quickly customize the look and order of files in a folder. Quite frankly, the fact that Files UWP actually lists the contents of the Downloads folder in a logical way and not in the weird way that File Explorer likes to list it (on my laptop and PC at least) was enough to convince me to leave the app installed – even though UWP files are limited in ways that take getting used to.

What really stuck with me is that you have to press Shift + click or CTRL + click to select multiple files. You can’t click and drag like you do in Explorer, although there is a Select context menu that lets you quickly select everything, invert selection, or deselect. You also won’t find built-in shortcuts or quick pick options for opening files in WinRar, Photoshop, etc. Yes, and UWP Files loads a little slower and lacks some deeper search functionality in File Explorer.

However, Files UWP is already a sleeker and more beautiful alternative to Files Explorer, and it’s free. It may not replace File Explorer for everyone right away, but the potential is there and is a reliable add-on while development continues. You can download it and try it out in the Microsoft Store .

[ Windows Central ]


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