At Genbeta we have been following the development of the alternative Files explorer for a long time, it is probably the one that has been closest to bringing that modern design that many wanted, with functions as desired as tabbed browsing support.

Now that we have Windows 11 among us, the people behind this explorer have launched Files v2, the new version of the app specially designed for the new system, following the new lines of design and with more than one feature we miss in Windows Explorer 11 itself, including a ‘Downloads’ folder that opens immediately and colored labels.


The best alternative browser for Windows


Files v2 on the left – Windows Explorer 11 on the right

Since I tried Files v2 I have been convinced that it is simply the best alternative browser to Windows Explorer itself. And it is that despite the fact that it is not perfect and has a lack (at least for now) in particular that I cannot pass up, the fact that at times it works even better than the system, especially in Windows 11, it is more than remarkable.

Let’s first talk about the highlights Files has that Windows Explorer 11 doesn’t:

  • Tabbed browsing
  • Column view
  • Tags (experimental)
  • Custom themes
  • A Downloads folder that always opens immediately

Windows 11, analysis: the Windows of details ... of ignored details

Unlike the previous version, with the new Files, performance and stability has improved heaps. The explorer opens immediately, the transition between folders, files and tabs is instantaneous. Especially in that Downloads folder that keeps loading too long, something that everyone who uses Windows 10/11 has probably experienced at some time.

The design has been fully adapted to Windows 11 and it looks extremely similar to Windows Explorer itself, with the big difference of the upper panel in which there is space for the tabs.

Aside from other details like thumbnail sizes in icon views, or how – at least for my taste – Files uses better spacing, a distracted user probably wouldn’t notice much of a difference.

The only disadvantage that Files vs Windows Explorer 11 has is the right-click context menu. Files offers only the most basic options when you right-click on a file or folder, and although this is basically the same as the new context menu of Windows Explorer 11, with the latter when you click on “show more options” we have just that, including those of third-party apps that use that contextual menu and that are essential for many of us.

Files Right Click

If this is something that you can ignore or that is not that important to you, I really recommend that you give Files v2 a try, it is extremely comprehensive. The search works excellent, the level of improvements in the visualization of files with the column view for example, or how useful the labels can be, can give you a good hand in productivity.

Files even has FTP support so you can access your files on a web server. You have security options to control who can access system files, and now you can also group files by type, size, and date.

Windows 11 vs Windows 10: all the visual changes (in pictures)

Files is also an open source project hosted on GitHub under a GPL 3.0 license. It is a relatively new project with a lot of potential to improve, what they have done in a couple of years is more than remarkable, especially when we compare it with that new Windows Explorer 11. If it catches your attention, you just have to try for yourself same, it’s completely free.

Download | Files in the Microsoft Store