If you were born in the late 90s, you probably have never used or even heard of the Windows File Manager, which was the Window's file management program before Windows Explorer. Originally included with Windows 3.x and then abandoned after Windows ME, you now have the opportunity to give it a try on Windows 7 and Windows 10 as it has been open sourced by Microsoft on Github.

File Manager (WinFile.exe) Compiled for Windows 10
File Manager (WinFile.exe) Compiled for Windows 10

While many people remember this program as File Manager, I personally remember it more as WinFile.exe. This program was an all-in-one toolbox that all IT consultants, help desk support, and power users commonly used to manage files and folders, set permissions, share folders, format drives, and even connect to remote shares. If you were an an IT consultant or support person, then it became second nature to open the Run dialog, enter winfile.exe, and then press enter to launch this program as soon as you started working on a computer. 

Released on Github under the MIT License by Microsoft developer, Craig Wittenberg, the Windows File Manager has been updated so that it can run on modern operating systems such as Windows 10. As long as you have Visual Studio 2015 or later, you can easily compile the File Manager, or WinFile.exe, and start playing with it.

If you do not have a development environment on your computer, you can install the free Visual Studio Express or download a free Windows 10 Developer Environment virtual machine. Once compiled, you will be left with a 307KB executable named WinFile.exe, which is about double the size of the the 151KB original version,

Compiling File Manager
Compiling File Manager

With the increase size, though, also comes some new features added by Wittenberg. These include support for modern Notepad replacements such as Notepad++, OLE drag & drop support, moving files using Ctrl+X and Ctrl+V, the ability to see junctions, and more. 

A full list of new features can be seen below.

  1. OLE drag/drop support
  2. control characters (e.g., ctrl+C) map to current short cut (e.g., ctrl+c -> copy) instead of changing drives
  3. cut (ctrl+X) followed by paste (ctrl+V) translates into a file move as one would expect
  4. left and right arrows in the tree view expand and collapse folders like in the Explorer
  5. added context menus in both panes
  6. improved the means by which icons are displayed for files
  7. F12 runs notepad or notepad++ on the selected file
  8. moved the ini file location to %AppData%\Roaming\Microsoft\WinFile
  9. File.Search can include a date which limits the files returned to those after the date provided; the output is also sorted by the date instead of by the name
  10. File.Search includes an option as to whether to include sub-directories
  11. ctrl+K starts a command shell (ConEmu if installed) in the current directory; shfit+ctrl+K starts an elevated command shell (cmd.exe only)
  12. File.Goto (ctrl+G) enables one to type a few words of a path and get a list of directories; selecting one changes to that directory. Only drive c: is indexed.
  13. UI shows reparse points (e.g., Junction points) as such
  14. added simple forward / back navigation (probably needs to be improved)
  15. View command has a new option to sort by date forward (oldest on top); normal date sorting is newest on top