File Manager Commanders

The Norton Commander is the most useful DOS program ever written. Symantec (The makers of NC) dropped the ball when Windows 95 arrived. They now have Norton Navigator, which is not really any different than Windows Explorer. There is a Norton Commander for Windows 95 that was written overseas (Ireland, I believe), but many of these Shareware "Commanders" are better implementations. There does seem to be a Commander program for every OS: Unix, Linux, OS/2, Windows, and DOS. I haven't found one for the MacOS, but I don't have a Mac, so I haven't looked very hard.

I am going to try to include a link to every "Commander" available. However, I primarily use Windows 95/98 and only somewhat beyond the "novice" stage in Linux, so the selection listed here may be somewhat biased. A Commander program has to have the two panel interface and the standard F key assignments: F3 - View, F4 - Edit, F5 - Copy, F6 - Rename/Move, F7 - Make Directory, and F8 - Delete. Also, support for whatever compressed archive is standard for the OS, ZIP for DOS/Windows, tar.gz for Unix, etc. The ever present command line is also a super handy feature.

Windows Explorer and File manager are not very good at Exploring or managing. The Norton Commander interface is much more intuitive. Virtually all of these programs have built in ZIP/UNZIP capabilities, eliminating the need for third party compression programs. Since ZIP archives are handled the same as files and directories, there is no need to learn another interface.

Read a Paper on the "Commander" Phenomenon - The Orthodox File Manager Web Site

There is now an Official Total Commander discussion board. It can be found at:

I plan on organizing this page a little better in the next several weeks, suggestions are always welcome!

The List

Listed by Operating system supported, note that some are available on more than one platform!

Windows DOS Mode with Long Filename support
DOS Only
All (Java)

Windows 95/98/NT GUI

Total Commander
- Windows 3.1, Windows 95/98/NT/2000/XP; Shareware - $35; Internal Zip/Unzip; Internal Viewer

Even better than the original NC. Parallel port link for file transfer that includes a server that runs in DOS that allows you to transfer files between Total Commander and a DOS computer! Also has multi file rename tool. Too many features to mention here. Try it! Very customizable, and the best viewer implementation. Has built in FTP and file splitter. Directory Sychronization, File Compare, FTP or http download from list, and more.

WinNC.Net - Windows 95/98/NT/2000/XP; US $29.95 / Euro €29.95; Internal Zip.

Updated 2-6-2004
This one is shaping up nicely. The options for making self extracting zip files makes this one worth the price.  New in this version (.Net) is a CD/DVD burn feature, great for backup!  See the website for a complete list of what's new.

WinNc.Net is a file manager for Windows XP and 2000/ME/98/95 that replaces the use of the existing Windows Explorer. Developed by a small Dutch multimedia company called Dunes MultiMedia, WinNc uses the same key shortcuts and the same mouse functionality as a well-known DOS file manager. Lots of tool buttons and menu items provide access to standard file-management methods. You can e.g. easily format, copy, move, delete, view, and edit files.


WinNavigator - Shareware $29.

This seems to a pretty good one. Some unique features: Internet Dialer, MP3 -> .WAV converter, Resource Explorer for EXE files, font viewer, and more. Also includes built in viewer/editor. I couldn't figure out how to make a .zip file with it.

Description from Help file:
Powerful but easy-to use file manager -- a good replacement of Windows Explorer or Norton Commander. Besides usual file management (copy/move/delete etc), it contains built-in viewer for 9 most-popular graphic formats, and 11 sound/music format, as well as video clips (Microsoft AVI). In addition, it supports all compressed files like zip, arj, rar etc (showing them as regular folders), has the SysInfo panel, internet dialer, clipboard viewer, calculator, audio CD player, and resource explorer. As a bonus, the program contains two simple games (tetris-like one, and Life). Multi-language support is also there (now available: English, Italian, Polish, Russian, Czech, Hungarian, Spanish, Lithuanian, German).

Added 5-15-01
JExplorer - Seems to be a fairly nice commander. I haven't tried it yet, but am downloading it now (3-25-01). The price is right, it's free!

Added 5-15-01
2XExplorer - Not as "feature rich" as some of the others, but has it's own cool features, like the "separable" tree view and built in editor. The price is right. Freeware.

Frigate - Built in viewers, editor, Zip and other compression. Nice viewer and several useful tools, including a built in web browser (that I couldn't get to work) Shareware $39

Servant Salamander - Windows 95; Version 1.xx free; Version 2 and later Shareware $20. Version 2 relaeased 2-28-01, not yet evaluated. Uses internal viewer and external editor.

The Author's description:

Free file manager for Windows NT 4.0 and Windows 95; small, fast, stable, and user-friendly; supports drag&drop, right-click context menus; supports clipboard operations with files; two independent panels with directory listings; directory listings always up to date; hotkeys for all functions; command line for executing commands through the system shell; support for long filenames, compression on NTFS volumes; can send files to Recycle Bin and show system icons in listings; internal viewer for up to 2 GB files with text and hex modes; executable file about 300 KB (very fast execution); easy handling even with files over 4 GB; changing case of filenames; very fast files finding; user menu

Nico's Commander - Windows 95; Shareware - $20; Internal Zip; Internal Viewer/editor.

Description straight from Nico himself! (Thanks!):
"Nico's Commander is a Windows 95/98/NT file manager that resembles the old Norton Commander. It offers a dual directory/folder display and a host of useful options. In addition to performing all the various file-management tasks, it offers optional functions that can be accessed using your mouse or the function keys. A series of application buttons across the top of the main windows provides immediate access to your favorite programs. Other features include a built-in text editor, a text search facility, a file and directory compare function, a command prompt with command history, FTP support, built-in zip/unzip with long filename support, a tryout facility for Zip files, a desktop menu icon in the system tray for easy access to desktop icons, right-click mouse functionality (Explorer-like context menu for files or directories or click empty space in the program window to minimize the main screen), instant access to your screen saver by tapping the Esc key, and more."

Added 9-6-2000
TurboNavigator - Free! I haven't tried this one out yet.

Added 9-6-2000
Gyula's Windows Navigator - Free! I haven't tried this one out yet.

Norton Commander for Windows 95- Windows 95/NT; Commercial; Internal Zip; No Internal viewer, internal editor.

No mention of this on the Symantec web site. It was written overseas. The Link Feature and NC Scheduler make this one worth it. One BIG problem with it is that it has NO BUILT IN VIEWER, can only use Quick View Plus. Available directly from Symantec, the only way it is available now is for download. You have to go to the UK section of their web site to find it. It is 34 pounds (about US $55). Also, Version 2 now does FTP and is "Y2K compliant".

Disco Commander - Windows 95, Shareware, around $20

A GUI NC lookalike. Built in graphics viewer and a few other goodies. Demo version limited to C: drive and first level of subdirectories.

Added 9-30-2001
WinSCP - Windows 95, freeware

WinSCP is freeware SCP (Secure CoPy) client for Windows 95/98/2000/NT using SSH (Secure SHell). Its main purpose is safe copying files between local and remote computer. Beyond this basic function, WinSCP manages some other actions with files.

SpeedCommander - Windows 95; Shareware - $45; Built in viewer and editor.

Piquard - Windows 95; Freeware; Beta.
Note: this link is broken, please email me if you find another place to link to for this Commander.

Norbert Commander - This is a 16 bit Windows 3.1 program that supports long filenames, very basic file manager. I could not locate a home page for this program, so the link is to an Altavista web search.

Text Mode/DOS Based with Win95/98 Long Filename Support

UFO - DOS/Windows 95; Freeware as of 8-13-98!; Uses external Zip/Unzip; Built in viewer and editor

A DOS based NC clone that handles Windows 95 long filenames. Definitely worth the price! Will fit on a floppy.

Can be downloaded at:

FAR - Windows 95/NT (Text Mode); Shareware - $35; Uses external Zip/Unzip; Built in Viewer/Editor.

Contents of FILE_ID.DIZ-

FAR v1.50 (release) for Windows 95/NT
The File and ARchive manager, text mode
- This version is SHAREWARE
- NEW! "Process list" plugin
- NEW! Interface changes in FTP client
- Long file names support
- User defined view modes
- File descriptions and highlighting
- User menu, file associations
- FTP client, network browser
- Task list and control

Freeware File Manager

I haven't tried this one yet, available for Win95/98/NT, OS/2, and Linux

Byte Manager - DOS; Uses External Zip; Built in viewer, uses DOS editor.

Shareware, has a real cool viewer.

Description from FILE_ID.DIZ:
BM, more than a powerful file utility! Low disk space required, excellent performance, rational features. WIN'98 compatible, SHAREWARE.

EFS Commander - Windows 95/98/ME/NT/2000/XP, OS/2; Shareware - $39; Internal Zip; External Editor/viewer.

FileCommander V.2.12 for OS/2 and Win9x/NT. v2.12 released June 2000.

File Commander is a 32 bit text mode file manager and shell that allows you to locate, copy, move, delete, view, edit and execute your files in a quick, convenient and customizable manner.

It's main display provides dual directory view panels that may serve as source and destination of a copy or move operation or just two different views of your files. A panel may also be used to view a directory tree, drive statistics or may be turned off altogether, making visible the output of previously executed commands.

A command line is also provided and operates in conjuction with the directory panels to make it much more powerful than a regular CLI including pasting file names from the panel, a command history recall window and command completion from history.

DOS Only

Volkov Commander - One of the original clones, written entirely in assembler! v4.05 released June 2000.

Description from the homepage:

Volkov Commander (VC) is a great clone of the well-known Norton Commander by Symantec. It's a DOS based file manager, which in the eighties set the standard. This standard is still valid for most file managers after so many years. VC is no 100% exact clone of this tool, but it uses most of the features lots of users have made friends with. Its visual appearance and controls are nearly the same, but have been enhanced and improved in a number of ways.
Note: Beta version currently supports Win95/98. Latest official release does not.

Star Commander - "Giftware". I haven't tried it yet. For all you Commodore buffs.

Description from the Homepage:
The Star Commander is the ultimate DOS shell that can handle the image file formats of the C64 emulators for DOS, it copies files and disks between the PC and a Commodore 1541/1571/1581 drive, optionally in turbo mode, and also converts several popular Commodore archive formats. It is a comfortable, user-friendly and fast giftware program with online help and is very similar to The Norton Commander and The Volkov Commander.

Genesis Commander - DOS; Freeware; View contents of Zip files;Internal viewer and editor.


DOS Navigator - This is probably the best DOS clone I've seen. No long file name support for Windows 95/98. Now freeware, source code also available!

Owning Dos Navigator means that you own an award-winning file manager, powerful text Editor, Archive Manager, Serial Link, Spreadsheet, Calculator, Physical Disk Editor, powerful Terminal with, Phonebook, Floppy Disk Formatter, Environment Editor, File Uneraser, CD Player, Disk Image,Unpacker and even Tetris!

DirTree - A DOS NC clone, free. The page is in German.

Crash Commander - DOS; Shareware $10; Still beta.

A DOS NC clone.

Jet Commander- DOS/Windows 95, OS/2; Shareware - $39; Internal Zip; Internal Viewer/Editor.

Has file color coding.

DOS Controller - A DOS based NC Clone.  I can't find a homepage for this one, but here is a link to one of the many places on the net that has it.  There is a description here I don't see any mention of a price on this one, so I assume it to be freeware.

Gram's Commander Added 10-28-2001
A DOS and Unix Commander, be aware that you need to compile it yourself! I tried it and it works, a basic commander, but the great thing is that the source code is included.
Note from the author:
Gram's Commander. Freeware, source code, I wrote it years ago but it still works, compiled on DOS with Borland C, and on UNIX systems.


Midnight Commander - Linux, Unix, OS/2, Win 95/NT; Freeware; Built in .tar/.gz; internal viewer and editor.

I have used the Linux version of this. It is available for almost every platform.

X Northern Captain - Runs under X-Windows. Looks very good, does not appear to have as much functionality as Midnight Commander.

Krusader - A very good Commander for KDE 3.

More Linux OFM Links

I haven't tried these, but here are some more:

* TK Commander

* foXdesktop

* X-Files:

* File Runner:

* Gentoo:

* SmartBar

* emelFM

* Akkord Advanced KDE Commander

* KCommander

A couple of Emacs NC clones!

* - A Midnight Commander clone for Emacs.

* - A NC emulator for Emacs.

muCommander - muCommander is the first commander written in Java. It runs on any platform that supports Java2 v1.3 or up (Windows, Mac OS, Solaris, Linux...). Current version is 0.1, though it is perfectly usable.

If you have any information to add to this page, please email me and fill me in!

Thanks to Juhapekka Tolvanen for his contributions, especially the Linux stuff!

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