Whether it's File Explorer on Windows or Finder on Mac, your computer's operating system comes with a basic file manager. Although they've added features slowly to these essential user interface elements, there is still a lot lacking in the way they function. Thankfully, there are third-party file managers that will unlock functionality you didn't even know you were missing.
A file manager is software you use to interact with files on your computer. We've already mentioned File Explorer and Finder, which anyone who has used a computer is familiar with. Third-party file management software is what happens when a developer puts the functionality of the file manager front and center, rather than viewing it as an afterthought to a more complex operating system design.
If you're used to the file manager on Windows 10, or you already know your way around the Mac file manager, what purpose does third-party file management provide? Let's look at some of the benefits.
The default file manager for your OS is meant to manage files on your computer and not much more. A good third-party file manager will give you options that extend beyond your computer. For example, the ability to quickly share files to your favorite social media sites allows your file manager to become an extended part of your social media experience.
Most file management software will also allow you to interact with other web-based services, such as your favorite cloud storage or file-sharing platforms. This reduces the friction of interacting with those services and helps to increase your productivity.
Good file management software will also make file sharing easier in other ways. For example, by connecting with your contacts, a file management solution may allow you to share a file with a given contact directly from within the file manager, using your sharing method of choice. This greatly simplifies the collaboration process.
Often you need to share multiple files in different formats. While you can compress a text file and an image file into a zip file and share that, there is needless friction involved as the recipient needs to extract the files before they can view them. File Management tools like WinZip allow you to combine those files into a PDF instead. You still only have one file to send, but it's in a ready-to-view format.
Duplicate files are also a thing of the past with a good file manager. The tools are smart enough to know when you have multiple copies of the same file, or several different sizes of the same image. They'll be able to provide you with a list of files that are doing nothing but taking up space on your drive so you can keep it clean and organized.
In the previous section, we told you how a good file management program could make your life easier. But not every file manager will have those features. When it comes to basic file management, Windows and Mac already provide you with built-in tools. If you are looking for a third-party solution to extend those tools, you want to make sure that it has features that will make it worth the price. While the features listed above are far from an exhaustive overview of what a good file manager provides, it should be viewed as the bare minimum of what you should expect from a potential solution.
You may not have even noticed all the ways that File Explorer and Finder slow you down, but once you've experienced a powerful third-party file manager, you likely won't want to go back to the basic tools that came with your computer. Despite its Windows-only origins, WinZip now works on Windows and Mac. It can even become your new favorite iOS file manager by downloading the mobile version.