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

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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).