Filebox Entender: Enhances Windows with favorite folders, recent folders, and windows management functions

Filebox Extender is a free windows explorer extension that adds a number of buttons on the top right of open windows next to the minimize, maximize and close buttons, including a “stay on top” pushpin button, a window roll-up button that hides all but the title bar of a window, a favorites folder button, and a recent folders button. Filebox Extender provides these functions in open folder and application windows, in open/save dialogs and in the system tray.

Although there are a number of programs similar to this that are also free and have been featured on Freewaregenius, Filebox Extender has done a terrific job in the brilliant placement of the functions that it provides on the top right of open windows (near the minimize, maximize, and close buttons). This is a good idea because it standardizes Filebox Extender’s interface whether the user is working with open folder windows, application windows, or even open/save dialogs. The end result is that Filebox Extender manages to provide a streamlined, more intuitive user experience than some of the other available freeware programs which provide similar functions. Here are more notes on this program:

  • The look and feel: the extra functions that Filebox Extender provides are very well placed and after a few days of use you might start to wonder why Windows didn’t have something like this built-in in the first place.I tried it on XP and the additional buttons have a distinct XP look that blends into the XP interface. You can switch this off to get buttons that look like older versions of Windows which I didn’t care for much. Not sure how this looks on Vista. I will confess that, although I have known about this program for a very long time, I stopped short of reviewing it previously simply because I didn’t care for the way the icons looked (although these can be customized, see below). Also I saw screenshots that featured Filebox Extender’s Windows 98/2000 look.
  • The favorite and recent folders: this is the main draw, at least for me. You can define favorites easily from within the settings or otherwise simply by browsing to the intended folder and adding it via an option on the favorites icon itself. Very cool. You can access your favorite folders or recent folders from the open/save dialog or from any folder window, as well as the system tray. Remarkably, it works with MS Office open/save dialogs, something which a number of similar programs that provide favorites in these dialogs failed to do.
  • The windows management functions: the two functions offered, stay on top and rollover windows are nicely implemented. The rollover function, in case you are wondering, minimizes the window in-place so that only the title bar is visible, similar to a window blind.
  • Shortcuts: if you are keyboard-inclined, you have the option to define shortcut keys that open the favorites and recent folder.
  • Customizablity/interface: this program is highly customizable; your favorite folders can be laid out in a tree structure with dividers, etc. You can choose to disable any of the buttons if you don’t want the functionality, disable them on either the folder or dialog windows or both, and/or disable the system tray icon. The placement of the buttons next to the minimize icon can be tweaked.
  • Cutsomizablity/folders: for folder opened using Filebox, you can set the program to customize the results: automatically switch to details view, auto size columns, sort by a certain column (ascending or descending), resize the folder box by a certain percentage, and a couple of other options.
  • Icons used: although I generally do not like the favorites and recent folder icons used, these can be changed, except you will need icons that contain 12×12, 16×16, 18×18, and 32×32 sizes, which I couldn’t find in any of the icon libraries that I use, so an icon editor like IcoFX might be the ticket to get these customized.
  • Memory use: takes up approx 5, which is about the average for this sort of program (for both the favorites folders and the windows management functions, this is not bad at all).
  • Program exceptions: in some instances a program such as this one may not work with certain apps, in which case you can specify exactly what you want Filebox Extender to do or not do with each of these apps should you encounter them.
  • Related freeware programs: DM2, Flashfolder, CFDButton, RadWinMan; also look at this posting.

Wish list

  • Adding a minimize to tray button for application windows, a mainstay of most windows management programs. I would have also wished for a window sizing function (also common in such programs), but I am satisfied using Sizer.
  • I was also wishing that the makers of this would provide a good variety of icons to choose from for the favorite/recent icons.

The verdict: a very useful and well made program overall that provides a unified and intuitive user experience. Highly recommended.

Version Tested: 2.00.01

Compatibility: WinAll. 32 and 64 bit versions available.

Go to the program page to download the latest version (approx 1.5 megs).


 
 
 
Samer Kurdi

Samer Kurdi

Has been reviewing software since 2006 when he started Freewaregenius.com
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  • http://www.tenkan.tk tenkan

    Thank you! I have just installed and tried it!

  • http://alekdavis.blogspot.com Alek Davis

    This is a nice program (with helpful functionality), but it causes certain programs to malfunction. For example, when running Filebox Extender, I could not open the Properties/Options dialog boxes in MS Office Communicator 2007 (once I stopped Filebox Extender, it started to work, and I tried it a few times to be certain).

  • Samer

    Alek,
    Yes there will be some programs that might not like Filebox Extender. I haven’t come across any, but it seems that you have.
    You don’t have to stop Filebox Extender, just go to the settings and add the program in question to the exclusion list (Filebox Extender will automatically not run on that program, but will run on everything else).

  • http://alekdavis.blogspot.com Alek Davis

    @Samer: I remember trying it and unfortunately it did not seem to help. Too bad; I liked the functionality.

  • Canuckster

    I have used Filebox Extender for 6 years (I paid for it back when it used to be shareware) and it is the singlemost useful utility on my system (and being a computer geek, I have lots of utilities!). It has probably saved me 2 minutes per day for 6 years, honestly.

    To me, the ability to make all your open/save/browse dialog boxes bigger than the unfathomably small size Windows makes them is worth the price of admission. And I can’t live without the easy access it gives me to my favourite folders. If there’s a program it won’t work with then that sucks, but I think I’d still get more out of using it and putting up with that glitch than not having it at all. :)

  • zippodemos

    PROS:
    The push-pin and roll-up buttons blend seamlessly to WinXP title bar at least in the default skin. Recent and Favorite buttons add functionality to Windows Explorer and File Dialogs.

    CONS:
    Unstable when configuring the favorites, when I click on the “Switch Config”
    the whole program crashes. Got to kill that bug ASAP.

    WISHLIST:
    – General switch on/off option in the tray icon.
    – Transparency and “Minimize to tray” buttons.
    – Option to change the Push-pin and Roll-up icons.
    – Option to change the position of the buttons (like push-pin at the left, then roll-up, then recent, etc.)
    – Option to display each particular folder’s icons in the Recent and Favorite buttons.
    – Option to resize the buttons.
    – Ability to work in unconventional title bars like Window Media Player’s.
    – (I may be asking too much!) Simmilar integration with another file managers like Total Commander, Directory Opus or ACDSee.

    HELP!:
    – I can’t find the option to change the default icons for the Recent and Favorite
    buttons, i found the folder with the icons but I don’t know how to change them.
    – Will these buttons blend well with different WinXP themes?

    CONCLUSION:
    Very good app, with a lot of room for improvement yet with some stability issues.
    Highly recommendable freebie. Def. a keeper.

  • GuesttWatt

    Unfortunately, this one seems to be buggy. Try FlashFolder instead (freeware): http://zett42.de/flashfolder/?cat=3

  • CT

    Well, I’ve been using it for 24 hours, and I Love it!
    Notes: The Program now has a few sets of Icons, and the ability to ‘Add your Own'; which helps – I’m an XP-Classic kind of user, and some were just ‘Too Much’! :-O

    Oddly, when I ‘Roll-Up’ Windows Explorer (File Manager), I get “seven question marks, square box, six question marks” (the ‘Reply’ box messes up special characters, so I used descriptive words) – All others seem fine; It might be other TSR’s I’m running, though — Does anyone call them “TSR’s” anymore?

    Added with ‘Resizer’, I’m a happy keyboarding geek! ;-)

  • http://alekdavis.blogspot.com Alek Davis

    GuesttWatt: The FlashFolder thing looks interesting. Gonna try it out. Thanks for the tip.

  • http://proreviewer.com/ Barry Cleave

    I have been using both Flashfolder and FileBox eXtender together for some time. I use FBEX to automatically display the details view in date order descending and for the “Always on Top” and “Roll Up” buttons. For a FlashFolder review see: http://proreviewer.com/2008/02/15/flashfolder-windows-explorer-extension-utility/

    Barry

  • Samer

    There’s a review of Flashfolder on your favorite freeware reviews site:
    http://www.freewaregenius.com/flashfolder/

    Published 7/7/2007. This was also linked to in the review text above, btw.

  • CT

    TO: “zippodemos”

    [quoting FileBox eXtender Help]

    How to Change FbX Button Images

    In the folder where you installed FileBox eXtender, there’s a sub-folder named ICONS. Inside that are several standard format Windows icon files. (These have the extension .ICO.)

    v Copy a pair of these files into the main program folder, and then rename them to FAVORITE.ICO and RECENT.ICO.

    v Now exit and restart FileBox eXtender. (In some cases you will have to reboot your machine—exiting and restarting the program may not be enough to effect the change.)

    v The new icons will then appear.

    You can edit these ICO files if you want, to make them look how you’d like. You’ll need an icon editing program for that.

    ;-)

  • zippodemos

    Will try it, thanks CT!

  • GuesttWatt

    Codesector.com has just released a new version of DirectFolders, free for personal use. But caution: its Test.exe module is reported to be a trojan by one of my antivirus. If you’re brave enough and have the means to find out for sure whether that’s really the case or not, this would be much appreciated.

  • Capt Om

    I’ve been trying both Filebox eXtender and FlashFolder, but so far, I find DirectFolders from Codesector.com to be a much more polished execution. It doesn’t do the “roll-up” thing, but it uses much less memory than FileBox and has a function for creating a custom Places Bar. As for GuesttWatt’s concern about Test.exe being a trojan, I’ve scanned it with Eset NOD32 and Spyware Termintator, neither of which reported any issue.

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  • The DataRat

    Been using it since XP. It works flawlessly on both my Vista 64-bit and 32-bit machines. Although I recently switched to Actual Title Buttons (shareware) on my Vista 64 box.

    http://www.actualtools.com/titlebuttons/

    But, FileBox eXtender is the best FREEWARE applet in the category !

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  • Daniel U. Thibault

    Version 2.00.04 from the Hyperionics web site refuses to install in either 32 or 64 bit versions under my Windows 7 (Home Premium 64 bit, French) system. I would appreciate any help in fixing this, as this utility is my top-rated one for Win XP…

    I get an error 2363, which is very unhelpful.

  • Daniel U. Thibault

    Well, never mind, the install succeeded when I tried it again after a reboot. Must have had something messed up.

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  • The DataRat

    .

    I’ve been using FileBox eXtender for ~years~ ! Too bad the developer no longer supports it.
    A great little applet that I’ve found to be stable and useful. Runs terrific on 64-bit Vista.

    .

    The Computer Rodent

    .

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