StExBar: toolbar that adds useful functions to Windows’ folder view

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StExBar is a free Windows extension that adds a number of useful functions as a Windows explorer toolbar, including a filtering box, toggle show system files, copy names or paths, mass rename, and a command line console.

It allows you to add your own functions to the toolbar (or as keyboard shortcuts) if you have an executable or script.

This program takes some of the most frequently used file and folder functions and installs them as buttons on your Windows explorer folder toolbar (see screenshot). Here’s a quick summary of these.

  • The filter box: type anything in the filter box and it will instantly filter your files and folders as-you-type. A great way to, say, only display the MP3 files in a folder (by typing “.mp3” in the filter box) or, for example, only fetching those files or folders that have, say, “urgent” in their names. This is an excellent feature that is sorely missing in XP; however, if you have vista and do not want the filter box to be displayed simply disable it in the settings.
  • Copy names/Copy paths: selecting a number of files and folders and pressing these buttons on the toolbar will copy the names, or the path+name, respectively, to the clipboard. (Multiple items will be copied as a list).
  • Show system files: a toolbar button that can turn viewing system files and folders on and off in a single click. Very cool, albeit it kind of takes its time switching on and off for some reason.
  • StExBar screenshot - rename functionRename: press this to rename all files and folders in your folders (or otherwise select the ones you want). The rename function is based on finding and replacing characters using regular expressions, which gives it more power that you might originally assume (for example, its easy to add a prefix or suffix or rename all digits). I would say that the rename function is perfect for most on-the-fly mass-renaming needs, but there are times when you will probably find that you need something more powerful or versatile such as Bulk Rename Utility.
  • Create folder: quick and easy in 1 click. Or using the hotkey: Ctrl-Shift-N.
  • Console: this is a run of the mill command line console that can be opened at the current folder in a single click.

StExBar screenshot - custom functionAdding custom commands: provided you have an executable or script, StExBar allows you to add as many custom commands as you want. In the example shown to the right I was able to add PSPad, my preferred text editor, as a button on the toolbar that I could click on to use that program to open whatever files I have selected.

StExBar screenshot - how to add a button the the toolbarI could also specify a hotkey in addition to (or instead of) having a toolbar button. See the image to the right for an idea of the mechanics of adding custom functions.

Wish list (or how this program can be even better)

  • Toggle files/folders/all view: although I suppose you could think up any number of functions to add this one seems especially useful and would make a nice addition to this program.

Note on installation: once installed, on XP you need to open a folder, go to “view”, “toolbars”, and then check “StExBar” for the toolbar to be visible in your folder view. In Vista you may need to either activate the menu first, or hit the ALT key.

The verdict: very nice and rather useful. This is definitely a case of the whole being more than the sum of it’s parts; these functions together on the Windows toolbar provide a menu of options that will surely come in handy. The option to add your own functions to the toolbar is also very useful. In my case I found it especially useful in the case of adding an app that is not the default handler of certain file extensions that I liked to occasionally use to open certain files.

Version Tested: 1.6.0.187

Compatibility: Windows XP, Vista; 32bit and 64bit versions available.

Go to the program page to download the latest version (approx 377K).