EF Commander Free is a dual pane file manager with an internal text editor, previewer, music player
Managing multiple folders simultaneously is easier with a dual pane file manager, and when it comes with a bunch of handy tools, that's a welcome bonus.
EF Commander Free is a freeware Windows Explorer replacement that offers plenty of useful features. It looks quite similar to Total Commander, but for the absence of the function bar at the bottom.
Though the download is delivered an archive, the program isn't portable. You may want uncheck the additional language packs that you do not require during the installation process.
The program has a two-pane interface which you can use to navigate and manage different folders at the same time. Use the drive bar at the top of the pane to jump between partitions and drives on your computer. Another way is to use the \\ button that takes you to the "This PC" view. One more method to switch drives is by clicking on the drive icon in the top left of a pane and using the menu that appears. The \ shortcut jumps to the root directory of the selected drive (C:, D: etc), while ... shifts to the parent folder of a directory. Click on the arrow button next to the volume label of a drive to view/open the folders that it contains.
The toolbar at the top has large icons that have a cartoonish look. You can use the arrow keys to go back/forward a folder, refresh the view, split a file into multiple archives or merge several into one. EF Commander Free has a built-in screen magnifier tool.
The first icon in the toolbar can be used to open the "Run command". Another useful shortcut in the bar is the "Open DOS" option which opens a Command prompt window in the current directory. Head to the Options menu to customize the shortcuts on the toolbar. It has a dark mode that you can toggle, and you may also customize the panel, font, icons, etc. The program has a folder comparison tool, a directory lister, and screen magnifier.
You can also use EF Commander to connect to network drives and FTP servers. The right-click menu in the program has the same options which are available in Windows Explorer.
EF Commander Free supports tabs for browsing folders, and the tab bar is located at the bottom of the pane. Right-click on the the tab bar to open a new tab, move, rename, close tabs. The command bar is located just below the tab bar.
The file manager has an internal editor that can read and edit text files, use the F3 hotkey or the toolbar icon to access it. Switch to different views from the Left/Right buttons in the toolbar, enable a tree side-panel or turn off one of the panes.
Save a text document containing the names of all files and folders in a directory with the Export List option.
Quick View changes the left/right pane to a preview panel, which can be used to view images and text documents.
Clicking on the music note/speaker icon below the toolbar invokes the built-in music player in EF Commander Free. It opens in a pop-window, and played most formats I threw at it including WAV, MP3, FLAC, and also supports M3U, M3U8, PLS playlists. The File menu has more tools, use it to encode/decrypt files, verify checksums, archive/extract files, and more.
The status bar at the bottom of the EF Commander window displays the number of files/sub-folders in the folder, their size, as well as the total free size on the drive, the amount of free memory that's available, the current date and the time.
EF Commander Free is a 32-bit application. The 64-bit version is exclusive to users who donate to the developer. There is a Premium version of the program with additional features, that you can try for free for 30 days.
EF Commander Free is a fine Explorer replacement, though its features may take time to get used to.