DMEXBar is a free Windows explorer toolbar extension that provides the functionality of a dual-pane file management program straight from within any normal window. It integrates a wide range of functions into a toolbar embedded within Windows explorer and can, additionally, control and arrange multiple open windows on the desktop side by side in the style of a file management programs.
I am one of those people (I assume there are others like me ) who never could quite get myself to use dual pane file managers. I know that many people swear by these, and I can understand how they can be indispensable when it comes to doing certain tasks, but the reason I’ve not really used them myself, I think, is because of the primacy of the Windows explorer: jumping off to another app to manipulate files does not seem to make intuitive sense to me.
Which is why I find DMEXBar so exciting: it actually manages to provide a wide range of file and window management functions straight from Windows explorer, such as mass renaming or
changing file attributes, a ’favorite folders’ button on the taskbar, filtering (selecting/deselecting) files by wildcard, synchronizing files across 2 open windows, monitoring a folder for changes, copying filenames/paths, calculating directory sizes, DOS prompts on demand, mounting directories as drives (in NT compatible OS’s), aligning open windows side by side, and a handful of other functions (see screenshot above).
Installation: The DMEXBar setup comes with a number of other auxiliary extensions that you can optionally install. I tried all of these but for the purposes of this review I am limiting the scope to DMEXBar itself and the DMEXBar context menu extension. Another note about installing this program: on some machines I installed it on it committed the cardinal sin of ending the installation process with an error message. However, I do think this is a non-issue and if it happens to you just re-install the program immediately; the second installation will run its course 100%. DMEXBar uninstalls normally through the add/remove control panel.
Here are some notes on DMEXBar’s different functions:
- Arranging multiple windows: arranges multiple open (visible) windows horizontally or vertically, maximizes heights and widths, saves window positions, etc. Works remarkably well. Note that some DMEXBar operations assume by default that your file operations (copying/moving/syncing) pertain to the windows that are open on-screen.
- Filtering files by wildcard: this can be an extension or a string/substring within the filenames. Enter the filtering string in the box and choose “filter”. What’s really cool is that you can repeat the operation multiple times.
- Expand collapse treeview: this differs from expanding/collapsing using Windows in that it will expand/collapse the desired directory and subdirectories recursively all the way to the end of the tree structure.
- Folder favorites: very handy this one: click into any folder and add it as a favorite; there is also a folder configuration screen where you can add separators or edit paths manually.
- DOS prompt/favorite apps: you can invoke the command prompt from any window. You can also add executables as favorites and manage and launch them (with parameters) in the same way described in the ’folder favorites’ above.
- Change names, dates, and attributes of files: select the files you want and then perform any of these attribute changing functions. Provides a sophisticated yet simple rules-based interface for naming.
- Assign drive letter to directory: select a letter from the dropdown, and your open folder will be accessible from ’My Computer’ as a virtual drive. Uncheck the letter from the list to reverse this. Also works on network folders.
- Create new subdirectory or path: aside from the (self explanatory) directory creation, this option allows you to type in a path and have all the folders within it created instantly. For example you can type in “data’clientlist’clientA” and these three folders will be created within the folder that you have open.
- Calculate directory size: this is one of my favorite functions. Can calculate the folder sizes for all folders in the window that you’re browsing (in-which case it will also display percentage), or simply select a subset of folders and calculate the sizes for those. I am finding this function to be preferable to explorer extensions such as Folder Size or FileUsage in that it only calculates sizes when you tell it to for the folders you want, which can avoid a lot of CPU activity calculating folder sizes when you don’t need them.
- File operations: are not restricted to copying/moving/zipping/unzipping files, but have a number of powerful functions such as side-by-side directory comparison (on a 2-pane results page), folder clean up (i.e. deleting files) based on rules/filters, monitoring directories for changes, and even creating hardlinks/junctions for files and folders.
- Create file lists: this is a dropzone where you can drop files to add them to the list, save the list to a text file (and restore it for further modification later on).
- Split/re-combine files: several pre-defined file sizes are available (1.44 meg floppy, 1.72 floppy, 100 meg zip disk, 256 megs, or user defined).
Here are some notes on other aspects of this program:
- Resource consumption: given that explorer extensions do not appear as processes, I calculated this program’s memory using a roundabout way that might not be accurate and determined that it consumes approx 20 megs +/-. Please tell us in the notes if you have a better idea.
- Help: one thing worth mentioning is that most of the dialogs have little clickable question marks that display relevant data in the (rather well written) help file.
- Performance: is generally very good. It did hiccup when performing operations on a folder with 1000+ files and folders, but that is to be expected.
- Context menu: available if you choose to install DMEXMenu in the setup. Strangely, it does not seem to be available for items placed on the desktop, although it functions everywhere else.
- Other extensions in the installer: DMEXDir; shows the directory path as buttons, similar to Explorer Breadcrumbs and QT Address Bar, except I prefer those two. DMEXFav; adds a toolbar with clickable buttons for favorite folders. Seems unnecessary given that DMEXBar already has a favorites button. DMEXCpl allows you to add anything to the control panel. DMEXCol adds a new, sortable column to the explorers detail view which shows the current file extension, which can be useful. DMEXDrop adds a new item to the drag & drop menu that can can create Hard links to files and directories (seems similar to Link Shell Extensions). DMEXMenu adds a context menu to the explorer giving some of the options of DMEXBar tool (recommended). DMEXMenu brings the “Change directory” tool even to Windows’ open filedialogs.
The verdict: altogether very useful and, despite the many extensions that you can install, is rather a well designed and self-contained tool that works very well. I would advise on only installing the extensions that you want, though.
[Thanks go to reader deofmovestofcafor letting me know about this program!].
Version Tested: 13
Compatibility: Windows ME/2000/XP. Might also run on older versions of Windows (95/98/NT) if the Internet Explorer 4 is installed including the desktop enhancements.
Go to the program page to download the latest version (approx 355K).