File Explorer Face Off And Keyboard Short-cuts

As I mentioned in my last post, I would like to try out some other file explorer alternatives besides XYplorer.

Remembering this, I decided to give Directory Opus a chance, as that was my second favourite option from reading articles about it. I was also impressed by the history of the application, having started way back on the Amiga computers.

During installation, it offered a lot of useful settings suggestions, such as being able to take over from the default explorer on file opening, launching and managing short-cuts. When I ran it for the first time, hints popped up and a couple of tutorial notes, and I was pleased that the developers had gone to the trouble of trying to ease new users in like that. However, I immediately noticed some slowness with browsing my directories and the tree view didn’t seem to highlight where I was as XYplorer did. Maybe I wasn’t giving it a fair chance, but the interface didn’t appeal to me as much either and that with the slowness meant that I was uninstalling and rebooting not long after my initial download.

Not to be disheartened, I decided to keep looking and testing and so I came across another highly recommended alternative, xplorer².


I’ve downloaded and installed xplorer¬≤ and it at least keeps up with XYplorer in terms of speed, and it also shows helpful tips when launching on how to use it. I was lamenting the loss of my tabs bar, then noticed that by default it sat at the bottom! On further investigation, I found the setting to put them at the top and was much happier with the layout then, but again I found that it wasn’t highlighting where I was in the folder tree like XYplorer had. Perhaps I have been a little spoiled by XYplorer, but now that I’ve seen and used the features there, I notice their absence more in other applications.

Even though I would like to try other applications, I can’t get over my initial good impressions of XYplorer, and with the many other features there still to be used or uncovered, I feel like I would be doing myself a disservice by switching to something else, especially with the way I use it.

The only thing left to do now is to continue using and reviewing XYplorer now until the end of the trial period and then decide if I want the paid or free version at the end. The free version is officially discontinued, but that simply means that there will no longer be any updates and I can download and continue to use it from the site, I’ll just have to see what features I would lose if I switched or seriously consider paying for the full licensed version.

Today I stumbled across a Windows short-cut that could prove very useful to me and I wish I had known about before.

If you press the Windows key and a number, it will launch whichever app is at that location on your taskbar, or switch to it if it has already been launched. This would have been immensely useful to know some time ago, as I was often getting muddled up when trying to use Alt-Tab application switching.

One issue I’m having with it though is that it is not immediately obvious what number position each application is in. Although it is obviously completely customisable to your preferences, remembering which number you have put them all to could be a bit of a struggle to begin with. I’ll probably set up a key showing me which is which and refer to that for a while.

It is limited in the way that it will probably only go up to 9, but at that point you probably have too many things open at once anyway.

Another idea which I alluded to before was using AutoHotkey to launch or switch to specific programs, but I’m not sure if I really need to go that far.

Something else that comes to mind is that my concern about getting confused with lots of full screen applications is a little bit fixed by being able to easily switch to different applications using the Windows and number key combinations. It would at least allow me to keep Outlook, Trello and Excel all open in a single workspace, which would reduce the amount of workspace switching I need to do and enable me to free up the additional workspaces for ad-hoc work only. Not only that, but being able to switch quickly between apps like that is something I can easily share with other people and have them genuinely consider, thereby enriching their lives sooner and building trust in my knowledge of continuous improvement.

It’s cool to discover new short-cuts and I have to say that learning keyboard short-cuts in Excel and other Office programs, as well as Windows and popular web browsers, is one of the best productivity tips I can share.

For example, in Excel I have two short-cuts which are my new favourites and enable me to get a lot more done in less time than I could before.

Alt > E > S – Special Paste

In Excel, when you copy something, you may only need to paste it in a special way, such as only the value, only the formatting or only the formula. If you’ve needed to do this, you probably know about the Special Paste menu, but you may not know of this shortcut to bring the menu up.

Press Alt, then E, then S, after copying something and the whole Paste Special menu will appear. I use this even to just paste values so that I can continue strengthening the muscle memory for this short-cut. It may seem a bit long and contrived to do it this way compared to using the mouse, but once you’ve got the hang of it, it is much faster. I use this short-cut every single day and wish I had known about it sooner.

F5 > Alt + S

In Excel, you may want to select very specific items quickly over a large area. Going to each one and selecting it manually is an option, but it takes a lot of time and you can make mistakes.

If you instead highlight the whole area and press F5, this brings up the Go To window. If you then press Alt and S together, it will open the Go To Special menu which enables you to select all kinds of different options; cells with fixed (constant) values, cells with formulas, blank cells. There are a lot of options here and I use this one every week, not every day, but it definitely makes my work a lot easier.

That’s it for today, I hope you got something out of this post, even if it was only a couple of short-cuts!

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