When it comes to managing and organizing the files on your computer, most of us are perfectly content to use the Windows Explorer. In fact, many people don’t even realise there are alternatives to the built-in file manager, which is starting to get a little long in the tooth now (unless you’ve got Vista, which adds some interesting new tools). Once you’ve tried a different file manager, however, it’s often difficult to go back, especially if that file manager is Directory Opus.
From the outset it’s clear to see that Opus is like Windows Explorer on steroids. The default directory layout is very similar to Explorer but with one key difference – it shows two folders in separate tree-view panes (although you can switch to the more conventional single-folder Flat View). This makes moving files around much easier because you can instantly drag and drop files into other folders without having to open and close new windows.
However, the main difference you’ll notice between Directory Opus and its Windows rival lies at the top of the screen, within the programs toolbar and menu options. Upon closer inspection you start to realise this is much more than just a utility for organizing your files into folders.
When you first install the application it seems to want to take over your whole system, bombarding you with requests to make it your default image viewer, FTP client and the like. We were first dubious about surrendering all these tasks to one application, but after using Opus for a while we went back and checked all of these default radio buttons. It has enough might to handle a huge range of common tasks including viewing pictures, converting files, playing audio, opening Zip files, batch renaming and searching. All of these tools run quickly and can be accessed from one interface without a great deal of fuss. Another boon is the fact that Opus is infinitely customisable, giving you complete control over the layout and structure of your file manager and its supplementary tools.
In terms of sheer power, this is a real brute of a program and makes Explorer look positively weedy. The sheer scale of options and advanced settings means that Directory Opus can be a little overwhelming at first, but once you’ve learned how to tame the beast by customizing the program to your needs, you’ll be astonished at how much it offers. Since discovering the app, we haven’t gone back to Explorer and have subsequently ditched many of the apps we used to use on a regular basis such as WinZip and SmartFTP.